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Barton Named Among Most Innovative Schools in the South

WILSON, N.C. — September 22, 2020 — At #4, Barton has been recognized for the first time by U.S. News &World Report as one of the 2021 “Most Innovative Schools” Among Regional Colleges in the South, as ranked by academic leadership peers. This new ranking is one of five recognitions Barton College has received from U.S. News & World Report this fall.

This is also the first time Barton has been listed for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” Among Regional Colleges in the South, at #9. The College also earned placement at #19 for “Social Mobility” among Regional Colleges in the South.

This news, shared by the College, follows the announcement last week that Barton ranks as the highest North Carolina college listed in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report “Best Value” Among Regional Colleges in the South. Barton also continues to hold its impressive position among the “Top Ten” in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report’s overall rankings of the Best Regional Colleges in the South.

“Barton students, faculty, and staff are driven to be on the cutting edge — to push limits in and out of the classroom and learn at the highest level,” said Dr. Douglas N. Searcy, president of Barton College. “Too often, people accept mediocrity or allow expectations to be guided by the status quo. That’s not how Barton does business — our job, our attitude is to raise expectations, and when some say, ‘you can’t’ — we say, ‘we can, and we will.’ This spirit of innovation and progress will lead Barton, as we take the next steps to grow curriculum and programs that will benefit our students and the region.”

“The recognition of innovation on Barton’s campus is a sign that we’ve been working hard to make sure our curriculum and co-curriculum keep up with what students need in order to be successful,” added Dr. Gary Daynes, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “The innovations we pursue for Barton are not just for innovation’s sake. These are innovations that we know fit nicely within Barton College’s mission, apply well to our students and their needs, and point them to lives of meaning and success.”

Here are just a few examples of innovation and technology on campus.

  • The College’s commitment to innovation and technology has supported the installation of a new fiber-optic network across the campus. Through Barton’s partnership with Wilson’s Greenlight, the multi-gigabit campus now offers students the fastest wireless connection available today.
  • BodyViz, a 3D anatomy software, is currently being used in Barton’s newly renovated anatomy lab and in zoology classes. The software takes C/T scans of animal and body parts from a database and creates three-dimensional images that students can manipulate using an Xbox controller.
  • Nursing faculty are teaching students the comprehensive care of patients within a safe academic environment during this COVID-era, because of new technology and the acquisition of state-of-the-art simulation equipment and the most advanced tetherless mannequins.
  • Binaural microphones and a volumetric video system to extract 3D data from the recordings have been incorporated into the mass communications program. The goal of these additions is to expose students to augmented ways of experiencing video and audio as an entry point to further develop immersive storytelling techniques.
  • Drones for videotaping, 3D printers for design prototypes and hand props, and industry standard software, including Vectorworks for scenic and lighting design, have been incorporated into programming in the School of Visual, Communication, and Performing Arts.
  • The new Esports Arena provides a state-of-the-art gaming environment, ensuring Barton teams compete at the highest level of competition, including competition gaming computers, virtual reality space, and dedicated space for console games. The Esports Arena also serves as a technology center and classroom for all faculty and disciplines in the mornings.
  • The recently built Sports Performance Center provides an innovative approach to health and fitness for student athletes by expanding strength, fitness, and nutrition programming on campus. The Center features nine Sorinex Power Racks providing 18 total working stations, and it is designed to safely and efficiently train more than 70 student athletes at one time, supporting 24 teams.
  • Ground-breaking programming on campus includes, but is not limited to, Barton’s co-curricular cohort programs that continue to grow and expand with special interest focuses such as Esports, Healthcare+, Nursing Scholars, ArtWorks, and Presidential Leadership Fellows, to name a few. These cohort opportunities provide avenues for students to join peers immediately upon arrival to pursue like-minded interests and to develop leadership skill sets within their academic disciplines or through special interests.
  • Barton Fit’s creative campus wellness program at the College uses a functional and integrative medicine approach for students, faculty, and staff to create a culture of health on campus and in Wilson. Last fall, Barton joined 77 other institutions in a Partnership for a Healthier America’s “Healthy Campus Initiative” and won the National Healthy Campus Week Challenge’s largest physical activity challenge grand prize.

The “Best Undergraduate Teaching” recognition by U.S. News &World Report, another new ranking for Barton, provides external evidence of work and results that the College values highly. “Faculty members who teach at Barton choose to do so because they want to work in this type of an environment where classes are small and there is an opportunity to work side by side with students, to help them learn, and then apply their learning to their career, civic, and family goals,” Daynes explained. “For years, NSSE (National Survey of Student Engagement) data have shown that Barton students are much more likely (than students at a number of other colleges) to interact with their faculty members outside of class, thus providing a faculty/student relationship that goes beyond course content to support hands-on learning experiences and the application of course content to the everyday lives of students.”

Regarding the “Social Mobility” ranking, Daynes went on to note that one of the reasons higher education exists in the United States is to provide an opportunity for people to move across generations into more stable and more satisfying economic, social, and civic lives. He added, “Barton students often come from backgrounds that have not afforded them great opportunity, and so they choose to attend Barton because they understand that earning a degree here will afford them opportunities that serve themselves and that serve their families in the future.

“Barton’s curriculum is designed to help students move into a career and way of life that provides them greater stability, potentially a better income, but also a life of meaning,” Daynes emphasized. “So, Barton graduates social workers, teachers, nurses, and those in criminology and criminal justice, and small business, among a plethora of professions. When students who enroll at Barton College earn their degrees in any of our fields, but particularly in these professional fields, they are gaining access to social mobility, to have a more stable and prosperous life, and they will be educated in a discipline that provides for the common good. We live in a sector of the United States where social mobility is limited. The South has a lower level of social mobility than any other region in the United States. And, it is both our obligation and our opportunity to help respond to that through the education that we provide our students.

“These rankings indicate that the College’s peers recognize the excellence of Barton through initiatives that the campus community cares very much about,” Daynes concluded. “There is intentionality through the College’s strategic plan, through professional development, through the curriculum, and other measures that point directly toward innovation, toward quality teaching, and toward social mobility, which lead to important outcomes of a Barton education.”