Oregon’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Oregon’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Oregon if you reward schools for making the best use of their limited resources? Academic Stewardship asks how effectively schools manage their financial and human resources to gain the influence that makes them academically excellent. Schools that are exemplary in Academic Stewardship are doing everything in their power to help students and faculty achieve their full potential.

Colleges and universities in Oregon deserve to be recognized when they do more with less. It’s impressive when a large wealthy school can spend money lavishly on expensive buildings and programs. But it’s even more impressive when a small school with limited means is able to train and inspire students that the larger wealthier schools tend to ignore.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities reported in late 2021 that almost 75 percent of higher-education professionals at US colleges and universities felt financial constraints prevented their schools from effectively attracting students. Distracted by the size and amenities of larger schools, prospective students tended especially to be overawed by the big research universities.

Oregon’s smaller colleges, especially its liberal arts colleges, need effective ways of communicating their value to a world that celebrates “bigger is better” and “you need the best.” Unfortunately, most college ranking companies, such as U.S. News & World Report, define “best” in a way that devalues schools with smaller budgets and fewer students even when these schools do remarkable work in advancing their students’ education. By and large, college rankings penalize schools that serve underserved populations.

Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, who for years now has criticized conventional college rankings for misrepresenting what’s good and valuable in education, we decided to construct a new ranking metric that highlights those schools that do more with less. That metric—called the Academic Stewardship metric—takes away both the size and the wealth advantage of schools, and focuses instead on how well schools use the resources available to them to advance the education of their students.

How We Measure the Academic Stewardship of Oregon’s Colleges and Universities

Oregon's Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship
Download Badge

As a metric, Academic Stewardship is defined by a precise mathematical formula, which can be found in our Academic Stewardship white paper. Measuring the Academic Stewardship of Oregon’s colleges requires measuring two forms of stewardship: 1) Stewardship of financial resources (using the money they have responsibility without waste) and 2) Stewardship of human resources (doing their best to help students, faculty, and administration to flourish). Together, these two types of stewardship form what we call  Academic Stewardship. If you want to learn more about the factors involved in Academic Stewardship, click the more button below.

  1. Stewardship of financial resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of financial resources, we factored in its undergraduate size, budget, endowments and reserves, as well as tuition and fees. All these data are available from the National Center for Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. In addition, we factored in a school’s financial responsibility as gauged by the Federal Student Aid Office at the US Department of Education through its financial responsibility composite scores.
  2. Stewardship of human resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of human resources, we used our InfluenceRanking engine to track the influence of the school’s faculty and alumni but also to control for size of the undergraduate student body. We’ve found that measuring a school’s influence based on the contributions of faculty and alumni make in their fields of study but then also controlling for size of the undergraduate population is the single best indicator of academic excellence. We call this Concentrated Influence. Schools that rank highly in Concentrated Influence are schools that, given their available human resources, invest heavily in their students and faculty, and the results are demonstrable.
    • We measure the influence of colleges and universities based on the publications and citations of the schools’ faculty and alumni who are teaching in and working in areas related to their degrees. To do this, we take publicly available databases, such as Semantic Scholar, Crossref, and Wikipedia and use these to measure the influence of academics in their disciplines. Having measured the influence of persons, we then identify the schools that they’re affiliated with, adding up the influence scores of the faculty and alumni to measure the influence of the schools and their disciplinary programs. Finally, we control these influence scores by size of undergraduate student body so that schools do not score high in influence simply because of a size advantage. We lay out these methodological considerations on our methodology page.
  3. Academic Stewardship: Having measured a school’s stewardship of financial and human resources in the two previous points, we now divide the second measure by the first to define the Academic Stewardship metric. This metric spotlights smaller schools, with fewer financial resources and people, that invest wisely and do proportionately better in building influence than large wealthy schools. Many of these smaller, less wealthy schools are incentivized to make better use of their resources but would never get recognized in conventional school rankings, which directly or indirectly put a premium on the wealth of schools.

Academic Stewardship as so defined is connected to keeping tuition and other costs down, but it should not be confused with affordability or frugality. The schools that this metric ranks as exemplary academic stewards tend to be all over the map when it comes to tuition and other costs. At issue is the influence of schools given the financial and human resources they have on hand. If a school is going to charge more for tuition, then that needs to be reflected in the school having proportionately greater influence.

Why Academic Stewardship Matters to Students and Their Families

The benefits of attending a school with strong academic stewardship include:

  • A clear reason for why students are at the school in the first place. Without the distraction of amenities and luxuries, these schools are at once unpretentious but also passionately committed to their educational mission. The schools in this ranking are financially efficient and academically rigorous. By avoiding frills, these schools take the most direct path to accomplishing their mission of educating students.
  • Valuing character over prestige and self-indulgence. A school that’s a good steward of its resources doesn’t instill shame in its students over what they are missing (such as elite cuisine) but rather pride in what they have and making the most of it. These schools exhibit a culture of good stewardship, which tends to build good character in the students that attend these schools.
  • Avoiding the spoiled-student syndrome. It’s easy to think that offering students endless options and opportunities will enrich their time at school in every way. But spoiling people—whether in business, sports, or academics—has the opposite effect, causing people to take their advantages for granted and in the end achieving less than they might otherwise, a point well-documented in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. Schools exhibiting academic stewardship avoid this pitfall.
  • The best schools vs. the schools that help students to be their best. Students at schools demonstrating outstanding academic stewardship aren’t so much concerned about being at the “best” school, whatever that may mean, as about being at a school that helps them to be their best. These schools pay attention to their students, hoping that any glory goes to them rather than to the school. Small schools, and especially liberal arts colleges, help themselves by communicating this advantage to prospective students.
  • Emphasizing development over talent and achievement. Schools like Harvard and Stanford have their pick of academic talent, and their students have a long record of achievement even before they apply to such elite schools. But if a school doesn’t have the resources of a Harvard or Stanford, how does it build a great team of students? In that case, it must focus on student development. Colleges exemplifying academic stewardship emphasize student growth and development, ensuring that the schools are doing everything in their power to help students reach their full potential and thereby become their best selves.
Back to Top

Oregon’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

  1. #1

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    What is Reed College known for?

    Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Willamette University

    Salem , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Willamette University known for?

    Willamette University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Economics
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Lewis & Clark College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/29

    What is Lewis & Clark College known for?

    Lewis & Clark College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Southern Oregon University

    Ashland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/21

    What is Southern Oregon University known for?

    Southern Oregon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Western Oregon University

    Monmouth , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/20

    What is Western Oregon University known for?

    Western Oregon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Pacific University

    Forest Grove , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/23

    What is Pacific University known for?

    Pacific University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #8

    George Fox University

    Newberg , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    What is George Fox University known for?

    George Fox University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Portland State University

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/21

    What is Portland State University known for?

    Portland State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    University of Oregon

    Eugene , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/25

    What is University of Oregon known for?

    University of Oregon’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Anthropology
    • Business
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #11

    Oregon State University

    Corvallis , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/24

    What is Oregon State University known for?

    Oregon State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    Eastern Oregon University

    La Grande , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    28%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1037/20

    What is Eastern Oregon University known for?

    Eastern Oregon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    Corban University

    Salem , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/22

    What is Corban University known for?

    Corban University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #14

    Oregon Institute of Technology

    Klamath Falls , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/23

    What is Oregon Institute of Technology known for?

    Oregon Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Bushnell University

    Eugene , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1081/19

    What is Bushnell University known for?

    Bushnell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #16

    Warner Pacific University

    Portland , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Warner Pacific University known for?

    Warner Pacific University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #17

    Linfield University

    McMinnville , OR

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    What is Linfield University known for?

    Linfield University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Law
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

Back to Top

Oregon’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

Back to Top

Colleges and Universities in Oregon

Oregon is home to over 40 higher education institutions, including Oregon State University, the largest in the state. More than 30,000 students are enrolled at this public research institution in Corvallis, and with a tuition of $11,000, the school comes in slightly above the national average. Students attending the next largest, the University of Oregon, will join in on a friendly intrastate rivalry against Oregon State. Though the tuition is higher at $12,000, the school boasts a student–faculty ratio of 16:1.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

Of the 21 private institutions, 10 are religiously based. Concordia University has the largest student population at just under 5,000 and a tuition of $31,000. Students who attend this private Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod university can study fields such as chemistry, psychology, and history. Oregon’s community colleges range in tuition from $4,000 to $6,000. The least expensive four-year institution in the state, Portland State University (PSU), comes in at $8,000. Students attending PSU can study a range of fields, including environmental engineering, film, and international business, right in the heart of the city.

Gaze at the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon Coast Highway, which travels along the entire coastal edge of the state. Taste Pacific Northwest wines from the Willamette Valley, or take a bike ride through the streets of Portland. Students looking to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in The Beaver State can enjoy a great higher education experience set against a stunning natural backdrop.

Discover what Oregon has to offer, and find a college that fits your career interests as well as your budget.


What are Oregon’s Colleges & Universities?

Oregon’s Best Overall