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Local colleges gain ground in U.S. News rankings

By Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 17, 2010; 11:31 AM

The 2011 U.S. News & World Report college rankings came out at midnight Tuesday, and the news is mostly good for universities in the D.C. region.

Climbing even a single place in the preeminent college rankings is an accomplishment in the top 50 spots. Several local institutions gained at least that much ground.

There's little movement at the top of the rankings. If there's a national headline, it may be that Columbia University has displaced MIT as the fourth-ranked national university. Harvard, Princeton and Yale rank 1-2-3, same as last year.

Rounding out this year's top 10: Stanford, Penn, Cal Tech, Dartmouth, Duke and the University of Chicago. Of that group, only Dartmouth missed the top 10 a year ago.

Among nationally ranked liberal arts schools, this year's top rankings mirror last year's precisely: Williams College, followed by Amherst, Swarthmore, Middlebury and Wellesley (tied -- again), Bowdoin and Pomona (tied -- again), then Carleton College, which last year tied with Davidson College but this year edges it out for non-alphabetical reasons.

Locally, Johns Hopkins University moves from 14th on last year's list to 13th this year on the ranking of top national universities, the most prestigious of the many U.S. News tabulations.

Georgetown University ascends from 23rd last year to 21st this year.

The University of Virginia, tied with UCLA for 24th place a year ago, falls just behind to claim the 25th spot on the national university rankings. They are again the top-ranked public universities in the nation, along with Berkeley.

The College of William and Mary ranks 31st, up from 33rd last year.

Proceeding to page two of the rankings, we have George Washington University, up from 53 in the rankings last year to 51 this year.

The University of Maryland suffers a small retreat, from 53rd in last year's rankings to 56th, where it is tied with several other schools.

Virginia Tech ranks 69th, up from 71st a year ago.

American University captures the 79 spot, up five places from last year's 84th rank. It is the last local institution ranked in the top 100.

In the national ranking of liberal arts colleges, Washington and Lee University claims the 14th spot, same as last year, and is the highest Mid-Atlantic school on the list.

The U.S. Naval Academy climbs three spots to 16th.

The University of Richmond sits at 32, down from 30 last year.

The Virginia Military Institute ranks 62nd, the same as last year. St. Mary's College of Maryland climbs four spots to 88th.

Administrators of Washington College must be celebrating. They rank 93rd this year, up from 112th in the 2010 rankings.

Hampden-Sydney College, meanwhile, drops from 97th to 111th.

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