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Washington Monthly Again Names UC San Diego No. 1 College in Nation for Positive Impact

The rankings’ methodology is newly modified this year to include college affordability

For the third consecutive year, the University of California, San Diego has been recognized by the Washington Monthly as the nation’s top college in rankings that measure “what colleges are doing for the country.” The rankings, listed in the September 2012 issue, are based on research, social mobility and commitment to service.

“Public service is integral to our mission,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.  “It is an honor to be recognized three years in a row as the number one university in the nation for our dedication to service, innovative research, and efforts to ensure accessibility and affordability for a diverse student body.”

According to the magazine, the rankings were modified this year to include the price of college because the cost of higher education has become so crucial.

The Washington Monthly editors noted that students at UC San Diego “are taught by example and design to look beyond themselves and give back.”

They added, “Six of our top twenty universities hail from the University of California system, a testament to their commitment to enroll an economically diverse student body while supporting world-class research.”

In the social mobility category of the rankings, UC San Diego earned praise for its affordability.

UC San Diego also was recognized by the Washington Monthly in the category of research production.

“Colleges that are both effective and inexpensive get the highest marks,” the Washington Monthly stated.

The social mobility category also measured the number of students who receive federal Pell Grants and their graduation rates. At UC San Diego, more than 60 percent of students receive some form of financial aid and 44 percent of students receive the Pell Grant.

In addition to the campus’s accessibility and affordability, UC San Diego’s academic mission to enhance public service was also lauded by the Washington Monthly.

It is this mission of civic engagement that allowed alumnus Mark J. Spalding to switch careers from practicing with a law firm representing Lloyd’s of London to working at a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the environment.

“In 1989, I was making a profitable living as an attorney in San Francisco, but I realized that I wanted my work to make a difference in the world so I decided to go back to college at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS),” Spalding said. “It was a life-changing experience. I was very inspired by my professors who helped me get where I am today.”

Spalding, who earned a Master of Pacific International Affairs (MPIA) degree in 1992, is now president of the nonprofit organization that he designed, The Ocean Foundation. The foundation awards grants to other nonprofits dedicated to marine conservation. Today, The Ocean Foundation annually spends $6.5 million to protect the world’s ocean, by supporting grantees and projects on every continent.

Candace Chu, a senior at UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College, also said that her college experience led her to commit to public service.

UC San Diego’s academic mission to enhance public service was also lauded by the Washington Monthly.

“I’ve helped with all different types of service from volunteering at the local soup kitchens and food banks, to habitat restorations, working with children, and fundraising for charities,” Chu said. “My time at UC San Diego inspired me use my knowledge and passion to help others and give. Here, I have the opportunity to learn in the classroom and apply it to everyday life, using my educational experience to empower others and contribute to society.”

UC San Diego also was recognized by the Washington Monthly in the category of research production, which measures the number of undergraduates who go on to earn PhDs, faculty awards and the number research expenditures.

Recently, research funding at UC San Diego surpassed $1 billion for the second time in the last three years. The funding supports research in medicine, the sciences, the arts, oceanography, engineering and other fields – research that UC San Diego is internationally recognized for translating into innovations, medical breakthroughs, jobs and new businesses all over the globe.

For more information on the Washington Monthly college guide, go to

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