KINGSTON, R.I. – JULY 15, 2015 – The University of Rhode Island rolled out its first branding campaign in 2008 with this invitation to high school seniors: “Study in a small, beautiful place with some of the biggest thinkers in the world.” It remains the headline on the recruitment brochure cover to this day.
Now, a national website, “Best Value Schools,” has affirmed the essence of that slogan by naming URI the third “Most Beautiful Coastal College Campus” in the nation. The only schools ranked ahead of URI in the list of 30 were Pepperdine University in Malibu and the University of San Diego. Newport’s Salve Regina University was ranked seventh.
In fact, Best Value Schools’ online story about the rankings uses language reflective of the URI brand.
Here’s what Best Value’s web story says: “Reading, writing, studying, and…surfing. For thousands of college students heading off to college this year, a campus close to the beach and water is an absolute must.”
Language in that first branded URI brochure reads: “The rolling farmlands. The stone walls. The pristine beaches.” And yes, URI students are part of the robust surfing community in South County, and University students and alumni fill the rosters of lifeguard crews at local saltwater beaches.
Best Value Schools said no matter which of the 30 schools students choose, they would be in for a beautiful four years.
Each school was evaluated on the following:
• Location: Each had to be located on the coast with easy access to beaches.
• Awards and recognition, including national and international accolades, with two points being awarded for international recognition, one point for national awards and one point for appearing on the National Register of Historic Places.
• Student enjoyment, with one point per notable feature. While most of the campuses have features that can be appreciated visually by students and visitors, those features that can be physically enjoyed by the school’s student body (such as botanical gardens) were given higher priority. URI has its own botanical gardens and the Heber W. Youngken Jr. Medicinal Garden, which have sitting areas, plush lawns, shaded areas and labels on the significant plants at each site.
• Number of notable features. Each campus was given one point per feature. Campuses with one or more significant feature or building were ranked higher than those with a single notable feature. Local and privately owned beaches were included in this category. The URI community, including students, has access to the beach at its Narragansett Bay Campus. The URI Sailing Center, featuring the Robert P. Arrigan Sailing Pavilion, is home to both the URI sailing club and the internationally renowned sailing team. Students can also take lessons at the facility on Salt Pond in South Kingstown, which is just 20 minutes from the Kingston Campus.
• Other categories for which points were awarded included historical significance and environmental friendliness. Numerous buildings on the Kingston Campus have been LEED (Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design) certified. For the sixth year, this spring URI was named one of America’s “Green Colleges” by The Princeton Review, acknowledging its exceptional commitment to sustainability.
Best Value Schools’ thumbnail about the University says it “combines the best of New England and coastal charm.” The 1,200-acre Kingston Campus is the quintessential New England campus, with historic granite ivy-covered buildings lining its central Quadrangle (a site alumni recall fondly), contemporary architecture and new state-of-the art science facilities (pharmacy, life sciences, and chemical and forensic sciences) that occupy the North Sciences District of the Kingston campus.
The article notes the stellar view of Narragansett Bay’s West Passage from URI’s Bay Campus in Narragansett, home to the Graduate School of Oceanography, which consistently ranks among the top five oceanographic institutions in the country.
Best Value Schools also makes note of URI’s W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich, highlighting the 2,300 acres of pristine forests, streams, ponds and a 75-acre lake.