The Top 10 Public Universities On the Rise

3. Kent State University (Kent, OH)

Kent State University
Pacificboyksu, KSULibrary09NEW, CC BY 3.0

Both faculty and students at Kent State are among the midwest’s most impressive in any institution. 

An amazing 16 faculty members at Kent State have won the Pulitzer Prize, perhaps America’s most prestigious journalism & arts award. 

Students at the school are routine winners of academia’s top honors, including Fulbright and Goldwater scholarships.

In 2018, Kent State embarked on a $1bn master plan to transform both the appearance as well as the life of their school. Over the course of the next decade, Kent State will create a new College of Business building, renovations to campus facilities, and fostering even stronger connections with the city of Kent.

The end result will be an enhanced, dynamic campus lifestyle for the school’s students, staff, researchers, and local community.

The National Council for Home Safety and Security named Kent State one of the 25 safest campuses in the country in 2018. Considering there are thousands of schools nationwide, this is a rare honor for a school to have. 

2. Montana State University (Bozeman, MT)

Montana State University
Tim Evanson, Looking NW at Chemistry and Biochemistry Building – Montana State University – 2013-07-09, CC BY-SA 2.0

If I told you about a school that is a top-10 producers of Goldwater Scholarships, one of academia’s most prestigious awards for America’s top students, you would probably think I am talking about an Ivy League university.

In fact, I am talking about Montana State University, a rising public university which has additionally produced a substantial number of Rhodes and Truman scholars.

Throughout its history, Montana State has been belovedly called the “University of the Yellowstone” for very extensive research on the Yellowstone ecosystem. It is possible that no other school has undertaken as much formal scholarly research on Yellowstone as Montana State.

So what makes Montana State University on the rise?

Since their current president Waded Cruzado took her position less than a decade ago, enrollment has increased by nearly 25%! For a school as large as Montana State, that equates to thousands of new students in a brief time.

In 2019, Montana State University expended a record amount on research with nearly $140m spent, giving it a “very high research activity” designation on the Carnegie Classification.

Additionally, Montana State has built a number of facilities in the last decade, including an impressive 40,000 square foot facility dedicated to Animal Biosciences.

1. University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL)

Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

University of Central Florida’s brief 51-year history is characterized by extreme growth, influential research as a space-grant university, and rapidly increasing enrollments. Today, the University of Central Florida is the #1 school nationwide in terms of the total number of on-campus students enrolled.

When looking at the history of the University of Central Florida, it is easy to see why it is a public university currently – and historically – on the rise.

In the early 90s, the school hired John Hitt for the job of the university presidency. During his legendary 26-year tenure at the school, the University of Central Florida evolved into a premiere research university. 

Some of the university’s most significant accomplishments during this time period include substantially increasing admissions standards, creating the UCF College of Medicine, building a premiere football stadium, and more.

The University of Central Florida is particularly accomplished for its research into space. Through the affiliated Florida Space Institute, UCF will become Florida’s first university to lead a mission into outer space.

Faculty and alumni are among the most accomplished of any school nationwide. They include NASA astronauts, Pulitzer winners, a former prime minister of Libya, and dozens of professional athletes. 

After just 51 years in existence, with historical and recent accomplishments demonstrating the school’s multi-decade commitment towards growth, UCF has risen to become one of the nation’s top public universities.

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