Woodbury University was recently named a “College of Distinction” for a seventh consecutive year, receiving praise for its hands-on education and attentive faculty.
The organization that awarded the honor, Colleges of Distinction, says its methodology “includes a mix of qualitative and quantitative information gleaned from expert college presidents, provosts, deans and administrators across the country.” Its web page dedicated to Woodbury’s recognition commended, as it did in previous years, the institution’s emphasis on practical training for its students, and its internship and project requirements.
“I think it’s really a justification that we have been honored this way,” Woodbury University President David Steele-Figueredo said in an interview. “We want to make sure that our students have practical skills, that they have problem-solving skills.”
The local institution was one of more than 400 named across the United States as a College of Distinction this year. Other California colleges named included multiple California State Universities and Universities of California, Westmont College and Loyola Marymount University.
The Colleges of Distinction does not rank the institutions it recognizes.
Woodbury University received special honors for its business program and career development initiatives. It also boasts a student-to-professor ratio of 9 to 1 and an average class size of 15, according to the Colleges of Distinction.
“I’d say the faculty that we have is probably the best compared to the other three universities [at which I’ve worked],” Steele-Figueredo said. “You cannot hide in the classroom.”
Colleges of Distinction also reported that Woodbury has a 26% four-year graduation rate, though Steele-Figueredo said that figure was outdated. Sabrina Taylor-Encarnacion, the university’s associate vice president of admissions, highlighted figures presented by the National Center for Education Statistics, which show a four-year graduation rate of 36% for first-time freshmen who enrolled in fall 2014.
Woodbury University does not present a four-year graduation rate on its own website; many of its programs, such as architecture — its largest school — require five years or more of study to receive a degree. Students, Steele-Figueredo added, also often pursue minors to supplement their primary courses of study, potentially further extending their time at the university.
The current plan for Woodbury University is to offer full in-person classes, its president explained. Administrators “strongly encourage” students to be vaccinated, something that the university will require for those living on-campus. The classes in the fall will be in a hybrid format, allowing students who wish to remain remote to do so.
Steele-Figueredo also said the university will be using funds it received from federal grants to launch six new majors focusing on computer science, sustainability and environmental science over the next four or five years. The programs, he added, will present a transition for Woodbury University, which has previously attracted attention for its architecture and digital arts programs.
“I think we’re poised to enter kind of a different era in the evolution of Woodbury,” Steele-Figueredo said. “We’ve been around for 137 years and we keep adapting to the marketplace.”