UNC Asheville moved up on Kiplinger’s list

By Ashley Elder – [email protected] – Staff Writer | Feb. 4, 2015 |
UNC Asheville advanced from 58th to 51st this year as one of the top 100 “Best Values in Public Colleges”, according to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance used more than 1,200 public and private four-year schools to create its rankings. Affordability is weighted at 45 percent and academic quality measures are weighted at 55 percent.
Brian Hook, associate classics professor, came to UNCA in 2001. He currently serves as a humanities coordinator.
“I tend to think less about just economic value and more about values in general,” he said.
The values liberal colleges impart are still relevant to employment, even though they are not necessarily vocational, Hook said.
UNCA’s humanities program is interdisciplinary, with classes taught by professors from different departments, providing students an opportunity to learn from a diverse group of people, Hook said.
“UNCA’s mission statement includes diversity and sustainability. Those things are valuable,” Hook said.
Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked UNCA sixth nationally in total cost of attendance for in-state students, 10th lowest average debt at graduation, and 11th for lowest cost after need-based aid for in-state students.
“All states are having trouble funding education, so if our tuition is rising less quickly than other institutions, that’s great,” Hook said.
UNC Chapel Hill maintained its top spot on Kiplinger’s “Best Values in Public Colleges” list this year.
“I think UNCA is moving up in becoming more and more articulate about the value of the liberal arts education. Whether that’s reflected in rankings or not, I don’t know,” Hook said.
Eric Roubinek, assistant professor in the history department, continues his second year at UNCA this semester.
“I think what is most important is how we teach as a teaching institution. I think students receiving a good education and spreading it around is the best marketing that we can have,” he said.
UNCA placed eighth by U.S. News and World Report on the “Best Undergraduate Teaching” list of national liberal arts colleges.
No matter why students are here, Roubinek said he encourages students to take all the advantages a liberal discipline offers seriously.
“So they can get outside of their box, think outside their discipline, think outside of their job, and just learn to learn, and appreciate learning, and ask interesting questions and make interesting connections,” Roubinek said.
“For me the thing that makes UNCA special is the student interaction with faculty,” said Dan Pierce, chair of the history department. “There are a lot of places that students would not feel comfortable. It’s intentional and an important part of who we are.”
The Princeton Review and The Fiske Guide to Colleges also ranked UNCA as a “best value” this year.
“Our students get opportunities in terms of research and talking about ideas,” Pierce said. “There are a lot of places where you’re in classroom with 500 of your best friends and you don’t get that opportunity.”
NC State University, UNC Wilmington, Appalachian State University and Western Carolina University also placed in the top 100 public colleges on Kiplinger’s list.
“You’re in Asheville. You’re in western North Carolina. It’s not only a great institution but it’s in a great place. I think, finally, word is getting out,” Pierce said.