Gannon makes ‘Americas Best Colleges’ List


Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

Gannon University earned national recognition in the U.S. News & World Report’s recent “America’s Best Colleges” list.

This is the third consecutive year Gannon has ranked on the list.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Gannon 227th among 391 national universities, a ranking that Doug Oathout, chief of staff and director of Marketing and Communications at Gannon, said is a testament to Gannon’s progress.

“This is a moment to reflect on the fact that, with campuses in Ruskin, Fl., Erie and online, our reach has never been bigger,” he said.

According to U.S. World & News Report, national universities are those that offer a full range of undergraduate majors, master’s programs and doctoral programs, as well as place emphasis on faculty research or award professional practice doctorates.

Oathout said the criteria evaluated through this national ranking is outlined in Gannon’s mission through the academic, social and spiritual experiences and lifestyle the university strives to provide.

“The intentionality in the programming and atmosphere that can be found on campus speaks to the servant hearts and transformative experiences we foster here,” Oathout added.

In addition to the national ranking as a whole, multiple programs within the university ranked both in the undergraduate and graduate categories.

Gannon’s undergraduate engineering program ranked 129th among 239 colleges.

Its undergraduate nursing program ranked 432nd out of 694, and its undergraduate computer science program ranked No. 347 out of 538 colleges.

As for graduate programs, Gannon ranked 81st among 110 for best nurse-anesthesia schools

129th among 198 for best occupational therapy programs and 168th among 239 for best physical therapy programs.

Notably, Gannon’s physician assistant program ranked 46th out of 170 programs in the report, which is in the top 27% of the list.

Kimberly Cavanagh, chairperson of the physician assistant program and associate dean in the Morosky College of Health Professions & Sciences, said this recognition helps reaffirm the good things the program is doing.

“Part of the program’s vision is to be recognized for excellence in PA education, so I think that acknowledgement helps us affirm that we are doing good work,” she said.

This work is a testament to the program’s students and faculty, who Cavanagh said are committed to the educational process and developing the skills needed to be the best physician assistants they can be.

“We have a lot of students who are leaders in their community, and they translate and use those leadership skills as they move into the workforce,” she said.

“They are absolutely dedicated to their learning and committed to helping patients.”

Cavanagh said the pandemic made it even more obvious that there is a need for physician assistants who can advocate for the health of their patients, and that is what the program keeps in mind as it moves toward the future.

“Part of it is continuing,” she said. “That’s continuing to maintain high-quality education for our students. I think the pandemic has certainly reminded us of the need for access to care, and our ability to continue to train competent, qualified PAs that are ready to enter the workforce and impact patient lives remained really important.”

Oathout said having so many programs at Gannon be nationally recognized speaks to the academic experience at Gannon and, in tune with the goal of the physician assistant program, helps all programs look to the future.

“To be nationally ranked means we are checking all the boxes when it comes to offering a competitive academic experience,” he said.

“We are forward-thinking in not just what will help our students excel in the workforce now, but years from now.”

In addition to having several programs nationally ranked, Gannon also ranked 192nd among 391 colleges for social mobility.

Social mobility measures how well schools enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who were awarded federal Pell Grants.

According to Oathout, this speaks even further to Gannon’s mission.

“Gannon was founded on the fundamental belief that higher education should be attainable for anyone seeking to further their education, no matter their financial situation,” he said.

“This is a great reminder that we are providing this opportunity and more for any who seek out our institution.”

Rankings don’t mean everything, though, and while the university appreciates the recognition, it isn’t the true purpose of its mission. The true purpose, Oathout said, is to provide a positive, enriching experience for students and live out the mission for the Gannon family and for communities around Gannon’s campuses.

“The irony is that we don’t design programs or initiatives to drive those rankings,” Oathout said. “We just keep trying to improve our operation.

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