Beloit College ranked at No. 5 on the U.S. News & World Report list of Most Innovative Liberal Arts Schools, according to information released by the college Monday.
This is the first year Beloit College has received the distinction since the category launched six years ago. Beloit College is the only liberal arts college in the Midwest listed in the top five.
Beloit College Vice President for Enrollment Management Leslie Davidson attributed the school’s success to its cutting-edge approaches, particularly a nimble response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Launching the Beloit Action Plan in response to COVID-19 unquestionably landed us on that list. It’s a perfect example of our innovative and student-centered culture. Beloit has a long history of responding to challenges in ways that are innovative,” Davidson said.
The Most Innovative Schools list highlights institutions taking bold steps to change their curriculum, campus life, facilities and technology and is based on peer review and nomination.
In addition to new and flexible programming, Beloit College is offering safer spaces for students and staff in light of the pandemic. Tents have been set up on campus and are used for classes, meetings and study space. Beloit College also was able to offer all students single rooms as living spaces.
Davidson said the college has historically responded well to change. When planning for challenges related to COVID-19, she said, the college found ways to address immediate needs of students and families and was proactive in planning longer-term solutions.
Since the pandemic started, the college has offered stronger support in the transition to college, offered more connections between college and career, and adopted a schedule giving the college the flexibility to minimize disruptions for students if it has to move between in-person and remote learning.
“Through a number of financial support programs, we responded to the needs of students and families through a difficult financial moment for many,” Davidson added.
The Beloit Action Plan, introduced in April, includes “mods” or semesters broken into two sections of two classes as opposed to the traditional four courses to minimize disruptions between online and in-person learning.
It also features the Midwest Flagship Match, allowing new students from six Midwestern states to enroll at Beloit without paying more than it would cost to attend their flagship state school.
“This responds to the desire of students and parents to keep closer to home and the increased financial pressures,” Davidson said.
The college is offering the Advanced Mentoring Program, Career Channels to help students imagine what they’re looking for in a career, and ninth and 10th semesters free to students who enroll full-time during the 2020-21 school year.
Students remain an important agent of adaptability on campus.
“Students have been very active in developing and updating our statement of culture and developing behavior expectations to guide the return to campus. Student leaders have taken leadership within our study body to encourage peers to adopt community safety,” Davidson said.
Other notable achievements for the college include the Beloit Powerhouse, a $38 million facility that repurposed the decommissioned Blackhawk Generating Station on the Rock River into a 120,000-square-foot student life center. The college also continues to pursue innovation in teaching.
“Beloit is a place that is very nimble and constantly looking for ways to improve learning,” Davidson said.
Beloit College excelled in other categories of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges list. The college is ranked in the Top 80 among national liberal arts colleges, in the Top 50 for Best Value Schools and in the Top 25 for Best First-Year Experience.
Beloit College offers more than 40 majors, 30 minors, a number of dual-degree and preprofessional programs, 100 study-abroad programs, and several domestic study programs.