Into college ratings? Here are 3 more

Tufts University has gotten more academically competitive, is welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and is a compassionate neighbor, according to three separate rankings published over the last month.

Tufts is among the 25 schools in the country christened the “New Ivies” in the latest Kaplan/Newsweek College Guide. The guide said the 25 schools have experienced a rise in stature among the nation’s top students, administrators and faculty, “edging them to a competitive status rivaling the Ivy League.” Other New England schools on the list are Boston College, the Olin College of Engineering, Bowdoin College and Colby College.

The university also has been named among the 20 best American college campuses for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, according to a new college ranking book. The Advocate College Guide, the first college reference book for LGBT students, rates schools’ policies, social organizations, support and health-care resources, LGBT studies curricula, housing options, campus safety and general atmosphere for “out” students and faculty.

“Certainly it’s an incredible honor to be named one of the top 20,” said Dona Yarbrough, director of Tufts’ LGBT Center. The university provides discussion and support groups, social and academic events and campus-wide education to its LGBT students. The course “Introduction to Queer Studies” is being offered for the second time this fall.

“We’re pretty lucky,” Yarbrough said. “Most schools don’t have the kind of resources that we do.” She said she often fields questions from prospective students about the atmosphere for LGBT students at Tufts. “It’s definitely something that LGBT high school students are looking for.”

The only other New England school to make the top-20 list was the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

And on yet another list—this one compiled by Evan Dobelle, president and CEO of the New England Board of Higher Education and the former president of the University of Hawaii—names Tufts among the top 25 colleges in the nation that care about the welfare of the communities in which they reside.

Dobelle’s list recognizes the “extraordinary efforts” made by schools in contributing to the educational, economic and civic well-being of their surrounding environment. It is a subject Dobelle knows well, having fostered and designed a widely heralded cooperative effort between Trinity College, where he was president for six years, and the City of Hartford, Conn., to revitalize the neighborhood adjacent to the school, the city’s worst.

Tufts appears at number 25 on that list. Ranked at the top is the University of Pennsylvania. Other New England colleges on the list include the Rhode Island School of Design, Clark University, Emerson College, Trinity College, Middlesex Community College in Lowell, Mass., Springfield College and Yale University.

All have figured prominently in lengthy cooperative efforts with community leaders to rehabilitate the cities around them, using their money and expertise to further the projects. “These are engines of renewal and revitalization in cities and towns that would be spiraling downward in every indices of quality of life without their direct and indirect involvement in neighborhoods and communities,” Dobelle said.