CU lauded for its conscience
Survey ranks colleges based on social responsibility

By Elizabeth Mattern Clark, Camera Staff Writer
May 4, 2005

The University of Colorado has made another Princeton Review list, but this ranking is based on the school's "conscience" rather than its beer-drinking.

CU is named one of 81 "Colleges with a Conscience" in a first-time guide to be published next month. The schools were chosen for promoting social responsibility among students and helping them get involved in civic activism.

The Princeton Review named CU the No. 1 party school in 2003 and No. 9 last year, based on surveys of students about their use of textbooks, drugs and alcohol.

The $18.95 "Colleges with a Conscience" guide also was based partly on school surveys but was compiled with help from Campus Compact, a national group of college presidents that promotes civic responsibility.

Criteria for the book included student activism, support for service-learning programs and scholarships rewarding community service.

CU, which denounced the Princeton Review's party-school rankings as unscientific, issued a news release Tuesday about its inclusion in the new guide.

"I definitely think this ranking is valid in that it is a collaborative effort with Campus Compact — which is a very well-respected educational organization — and Random House, so it wasn't strictly a Princeton Review ranking," CU spokeswoman Monteith Mitchell said. "Their methodology was sound."

CU backing the new book "sort of validates what we do," said Princeton Review editorial director Erik Olson.

"We're not out to demonize any schools," he said.

Civic-engagement programs at CU include the Americorps Education Award Program, Engineers Without Borders and the President's Leadership Class. As part of its curriculum, the university also has a business class in which students develop a nonprofit organization to serve low-income children, and an English course in which students tutor incarcerated adults.

The school's Volunteer Clearing House helps students match themselves up with 400 organizations for community-service projects based on their own interests, Olson said.

"That sort of infrastructure you're not going to find at any other college its size," he said.

CU is developing a new Institute for Ethical and Civic Engagement, which hopes to make service learning a strong part of CU's reputation.

"It's a major feather in CU's cap to be recognized for promoting and providing a variety of venues for students to be engaged citizens and working to better their communities," said Peter Simons, coordinator for the institute.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Elizabeth Mattern Clark at (303) 473-1351 or

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