Illinois revives in college rankings

UIUC returns to top 50, but ISU and SIU drop in U.S. News rankings

 Lorado Taft's statue of the Alma Mater at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Lorado Taft's statue of the Alma Mater at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

The latest college rankings list from U.S. News finds the University of Illinois bouncing back from the two-year state budget impasse, but other state universities continue to suffer.

U.S. News and World Report released its latest rankings Monday for universities and liberal-arts colleges. Among Illinois schools, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign returned to the top 50 at 46 after dropping to 52 a year ago. That was still below the 44 ranking it posted in 2016.

The University of Illinois at Chicago rose to 129 this year, steady improvement from 145 a year ago and 152 in 2016.

But other state universities continued declines. Illinois State dropped to 171 from 159 a year ago. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale dropped to 226 after inching up from 218 to 216 a year ago.

Just last week, SIUC reported its undergraduate enrollment fell below 10,000 as the Edwardsville campus surpassed it in overall enrollment.

State universities suffered mightily during the two-year budget impasse under Gov. Rauner, even as they were touted as regional economic engines and job creators.

The state still boasts some of the top private schools. The University of Chicago remained tied for third among all U.S. universities, while Northwestern edged up from a tie for 11 to a tie for 10th.

Loyola University Chicago returned to the top 100 at 89 after being ranked 103 a year ago and 99 in 2016. The Illinois Institute of Technology also cracked the top 100 at 96 after being ranked 103 the last two years.

DePaul University inched up to 119 after being 120 a year ago and 124 in 2016. Benedictine University in Lisle made the list at 221.

The state's private liberal-arts colleges also showed improvement. Wheaton College ranked 61 among U.S. liberal-arts colleges, up from 63, and Galesburg's Knox College ranked 68, up from 71.

Lake Forest College dropped slightly from 101 to 103. Other state liberal-arts schools making the U.S. News list included Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington at 72, Principia College in Elsah at 81, Augustana in Rock Island at 95, Monmouth at 135, and Illinois College in Jacksonville at 143.