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The UMBC community attracts inquisitive minds with the grit to tackle tough challenges and the vision to achieve greatness. The 2016 U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges Guide” reveals why.

UMBC continues to lead U.S. News national university rankings for strong commitment to undergraduate teaching, tied with Yale at #6 on the list and ranked ahead of Stanford and Duke. In a new ranking of “Most Innovative Schools,” UMBC is #4 in the nation, joining MIT and Stanford in the top five. The rankings reflect results of a poll of presidents, provosts, and admissions officers at other national research universities.

Just as higher education leaders are taking notice, students and families are as well. Freshman applications more than doubled in the past ten years, and we now enroll a record 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 100 countries.

As Retrievers across the nation gear up to celebrate our 50th anniversary in September 2016, we honor the vision it took to establish UMBC as Maryland’s first public university founded as a diverse institution. UMBC came into being as the Civil Rights Act and Higher Education Act of 1965 transformed college access in America. Our graduates represent the promise national leaders envisioned: that people from all economic and ethnic backgrounds can achieve great things together through a commitment to excellence and inclusion.

At UMBC, we know you don’t have to be rich to be smart or to be the best at what you do. You need grit. True Grit.

Fifty years into this national experiment in higher education, UMBC’s distinctive combination of innovative teaching and learning, research across disciplines, and a supportive, civically-engaged community empowers and inspires students. James P. Clements ’85, M.S. ’91, Ph.D. ’93, and president of Clemson University, has shared, “I’m glad to see that UMBC has been receiving some well-earned recognition for its stellar faculty, administration, and graduates, and I’m proud to be able to say I am part of that tradition.”

U.S. News is just one of many rankings to recognize UMBC as a community of distinctive achievement.

This year UMBC has again been honored as one of the world’s top higher education institutions by both the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) and Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which focus on such qualities as faculty research output and major awards. For the fourth consecutive year, UMBC also captured a coveted spot on Times Higher Education’s list of top 100 universities around the globe under age 50. This ranking recognizes institutions with strong research, innovation, and an international outlook and, like the U.S. News “Most Innovative” list, is meant to highlight rising, “forward-looking” leaders beyond “the academy’s traditional, ancient elite.”

Princeton Review featured UMBC in its 2015 Best Colleges guide this summer. The guide highlights UMBC’s standout academic reputation as a place where “students take education seriously.” As one student shared: “UMBC wants to see every student succeed—they provide you with the tools, people, and resources to make sure you get where you want to go in life.” Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the selective Fiske Guide to Colleges have named UMBC a “Best Value” and a “Best Buy,” respectively. We’re a place where it’s cool to be smart, and where students can be confident investing in their education.

The priority we place on sustaining a vibrant, supportive community is felt across UMBC. The Chronicle of Higher Education has named UMBC one of the best academic workplaces in the nation for the sixth year in a row. At home here in Maryland, The Baltimore Sun recognizes UMBC as one of the region’s top employers—an organization with solid leadership, vision, and direction, and one that operates by strong values and ethics.

Faculty, staff, and students across campus share a powerful sense of purpose. Diverse magazine just recognized UMBC as a “Most Promising Place to Work in Student Affairs,” reporting that UMBC’s Division of Student Affairs “embodies a true commitment to teamwork and community, while cultivating student development and growth.”

Publications from TIME to Diversity & Democracy have recognized BreakingGround, UMBC’s civic engagement initiative. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities praised BreakingGround as a model for helping students “think entrepreneurially about social challenges, work collectively to bridge differences, and contribute meaningfully to the common good.”

Congratulations to our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters who make UMBC a national model for educational excellence.