August 28, 2007

CosmoGirl ranks SIUC in '100 Best Colleges'

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The hot new trend, according to CosmoGirl magazine, is Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

SIUC debuted on the magazine's "100 Best Colleges" list as published online and in the October 2007 issue. It is the first time SIUC cracked the list, which has been published for about five years, though previously as a top 50. The magazine also ranked SIUC in the top five for "Niche Factor: Health Services for Women."

Think that's fluffy girl-stuff? The Hearst Corp. publication boasts a circulation of about 1.35 million, with a target audience of young women from about 16 to about 20 – high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen and sophomores. And, says deputy editor Michelle Lee Ribeiro, who was part of the team that formulated CosmoGirl's survey, the ranking reflects detailed scrutiny of the University with a particular eye to how well the school suits modern young women.

"We did the survey differently this year," Ribeiro said during a telephone interview. "We were a little bit pickier. We were prouder of it, too, this year because of that. We can really stand by this recommendation list."

Princeton Review was involved with the CosmoGirl ranking from the start, Ribeiro said. While she and three other CosmoGirl staff members designed the survey to reflect what their readership wants in an institute of higher education, Princeton Review staff crunched the numbers.

"We purposely left off the list colleges that are just for women because of course those are good choices for women," Ribeiro said. "We've already been getting a lot of emails from girls saying they like the list, they really like the way we did it this time."

Some of the criteria considered for the ranking are women's varsity sports programs and club sports teams, leadership opportunities, sorority activity, class size, financial aid opportunities, campus safety, diversity and student friendliness. The guide lists each college or university's undergraduate enrollment, annual tuition, student-to-faculty ratio, middle 50 percent SAT and ACT scores and a web address. Colleges and universities are not ranked within the top 100 – they either make the list or they don't.

Larry H. Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs, said he first heard about SIUC making the CosmoGirl list when an SIUC alumnus told him his daughter was applying to SIUC specifically because the University appears the 2007 list. He said he was delighted the University's efforts to address women's needs were acknowledged.

"All of this is recognition that we are doing a good job of serving our women students," he said.

Dietz said he was especially pleased at the niche ranking for health services. The new Student Health Center, which celebrated its grand opening in February 2006 and includes the Counseling Center, is a better location, a better facility, and focuses on women's issues, he said. According to CosmoGirl, some of the factors contributing to SIUC's inclusion in the niche ranking are availability of HIV and STD testing, counseling and support groups, contraception, nutrition counseling, self-defense courses and mental health counseling and support groups.

Dietz noted that the University recently received an award from former first lady Rosalyn Carter recognizing the University's relationship with the community-based Women's Center in Carbondale as the best in Illinois for university/community program collaboration and service learning.

And when it comes to leadership roles for women, SIUC offers plenty of role models, he said.

"We have women in top student and professional leadership positions," he said. "The SIUC student trustee is female, nine directors of Student Affairs departments are women and a woman was recently hired as the assistant vice chancellor of enrollment management. Our sororities are also very active and provide excellent opportunities for female students to hone their relationship skills."

In addition, he said, the University developed a strong, woman-friendly curriculum by hiring faculty whose specialties within their areas of study include women's studies and gender issues. And he praised the women's sports programs, including the highly successful softball, basketball and volleyball teams as well as a female Olympian in track and field.

In fact, the whole concept of making SIUC especially friendly to women is important to Dietz, and to the Inspiring Women's Board, which is all female except for Dietz. The committee's purpose is to recognize "inspiring women" in the Southern Illinois area, including an all-inspiring female alumna. The Inspiring Women's Gala, which this year is Oct. 13, honors these women and raises funds for scholarships for SIUC students.

"This year is the fourth year we've hosted the Inspiring Women Gala, and, not counting this year, we've raised more than $350,000 for scholarships. The credit for the event goes to the board, volunteers and to those who support the event. I can't wait to tell the Inspiring Women Board about SIUC being named in this CosmoGirl top 100 guide – they'll be really pumped up about it."

The guide is available inside the October 2007 issue or by going online at