By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — A flurry of positive news has been announced at St. Ambrose University this fall.
Two national publications have bestowed St. Ambrose with top rankings, more students are preparing for careers in health care and, although enrollment is down, the university has plans to increase adult and graduate student enrollment.
For the seventh year in a row, the Princeton Review has ranked St. Ambrose as one of the best universities in the Midwest, said John Cooper, vice president for enrollment management. Also, St. Ambrose has maintained an average placement in the top 40 among its peer institutions as calculated by U.S. News & World Report.
Princeton Review uses student opinion data to determine its rankings, Cooper said. St. Ambrose was one of 153 institutions receiving a “Best in the Midwest” designation.
U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Ambrose 40th — and in its top tier — among “Best Regional Universities — Midwest.”
“It is good to have outside organizations to confirm what we know — that St. Ambrose is a great institution and doing really great things,” Cooper said.
Among St. Ambrose’s strengths, he noted, is its nationally accredited academic programs in nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy. St. Ambrose offers one of only 41 post-doctoral orthopedic physical therapy clinical residencies nationwide. It also offers the only master’s level occupational therapy program in the state of Iowa. And its master of speech-language pathology degree program is growing.
“The growth in the number of students seeking degrees in health sciences reflects both a response to community need for highly qualified health care professionals, and the strength of our programs,” Cooper said.
Although fall enrollment is down 96 students overall from last year, Cooper said first-year student growth is up.
Part of the reason for the drop relates to fewer transfer students than expected. “We are working with the community colleges to create a seamless system for those students to transfer to St. Ambrose.”
This academic year, 2,752 undergraduate students and 815 graduate students are enrolled at the university. Cooper said St. Ambrose hopes to increase its graduate and adult student population. “We’d like to go from 815 graduate students to 1,000 (graduate students) in two years.”
Right now the most popular undergraduate programs include business and accounting, education, nursing, psychology and exercise science. Most popular graduate programs include MBA, master of organizational leadership, master of social work, master of occupational therapy, master of speech-language pathology and doctor of physical therapy. New this year is a mechanical engineering degree.
“We are showing the results of managed growth while focusing on building strong neighborhood relations and providing appropriate facilities to meet the needs of current students,” Cooper said.
The university is working with the Board of Trustees and the City of Davenport in its future planning.