8 historically black Carolinas schools in U.S. News top 25

CHARLOTTE -- Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte is ranked 10th among historically-black colleges and universities in a new list from U.S. News & World Report.

School spokesman Benny Smith said the nod goes "hand in hand" with President Dorothy Cowser Yancy's vision for JCSU to be recognized as one of the nation's best liberal arts colleges.

This is the first year U.S. News has published the "America's Best Black Colleges" rankings, available online today at www. usnews.com/blackcolleges and in the magazine's Oct. 8 edition, which will hit newsstands Monday.

Many of the 81 schools listed in the report appear in other popular college rankings, and all are included in U.S. News' "America's Best Colleges" survey.

Some critics, however, say the criteria used in those surveys, including financial resources and selectivity, don't give black colleges a fair shake, especially when compared with larger, predominantly white schools. The president of Philander Smith College in Arkansas made news this summer in asking the leaders of other black universities and colleges to boycott the U.S. News rankings.

U.S. News' editor Brian Kelly said in a statement the news magazine created a specific ranking of black colleges "to allow apples-to-apples comparisons of these schools."

Claflin highest in Carolinas

Spelman College in Atlanta tops the list, followed by Howard University in Washington and Hampton (Va.) University. At No. 7, Claflin University in Orangeburg is the highest-ranking Carolinas school on the list. Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., is listed in the second tier with schools ranked below 34th.

Other schools on the list include: Winston-Salem State University (12); Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C.; Elizabeth City State University and Durham's N.C. Central University, in a three-way tie for 16th place; N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro (19); S.C. State University in Orangeburg (22); and N.C.'s Fayetteville State University (34).

Benedict and Voorhees colleges in South Carolina and St. Augustine's College in Raleigh also were in the second tier, while S.C. schools Allen University and Morris College were unranked.

Seventy-five percent of a school's score in the "Best Black Colleges" report is based on qualitative data such as graduation and retention rates, finances and faculty resources. The rest of the score is based on a peer-assessment.

That's different from another survey geared towards the families of black college-age students and published by Black Enterprise magazine. BE's list of the "top 50 colleges" for African Americans relies primarily on assessments by college administrators, and also includes non-black colleges. The different methodology results in different rankings for many of the colleges.

For example, Florida A&M University tops BE's poll, while it's ranked 13th on the U.S. News list. Johnson C. Smith isn't among the top 50 schools in the BE ranking.