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Gonzaga U. Moves up to No. 2 Nationwide for Alumni Serving as Peace Corps Volunteers

Ties 2008 All-Time High Ranking; 26 GU Alumni Now in Peace Corps

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University has climbed one spot to rank No. 2 nationwide among small colleges and universities whose graduates serve in the Peace Corps. Twenty-six Gonzaga undergraduate alumni are serving overseas as Peace Corps volunteers, lifting Gonzaga’s historical total to 298 alumni with Peace Corps service.

Gonzaga’s rapid ascent in the Peace Corps rankings began in 2011 when the federal agency, established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, announced the University had moved up four spots to No. 3 nationwide with 23 undergraduate alumni volunteers. Today’s (2012) Peace Corps rankings tie Gonzaga’s previous all-time high from 2008 when the University also ranked No. 2. The full top 25 rankings for each school size category – plus all-time and graduate school rankings – can be found on the Peace Corps website.

Gonzaga consistently ranks in the Peace Corps’ Top College rankings. The Peace Corps’ small universities category includes schools with approximately 5,000 undergraduates. Gonzaga also is among a select group of some 80 schools nationwide to offer a Master’s International program in collaboration with the Peace Corps. In 2008, Gonzaga’s Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MA/TESL) program became a partner in the Peace Corps Master’s International program.

Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams said colleges and universities prepare thousands of talented undergraduate and graduate alumni for Peace Corps service each year. These alumni apply their skills and knowledge to promote peace and friendship and improve people’s lives worldwide. Educating people for others is a component of Gonzaga’s mission.

“Every day, volunteers make countless contributions to projects in agriculture, education, the environment, health and HIV/AIDS education and prevention, small business development, and youth development,” Williams said. “I would like to extend my gratitude to all colleges and universities for their continued support of the Peace Corps and public service.”

Gonzaga alumna Leslie Otto recently returned from service as a girls education and empowerment volunteer in the West African nation of Burkina Faso.

“The women in the village needed a way to generate their own income so that they could afford medicines for their family and food,” Otto said. “So I taught the women how to take the shea butter that they make and turn it into soap to sell. The soap not only brought in money to the women but it also brought down the cost of soap because the women were able to make it cheaper than the soap sold in the village shop.”

In September (2011), U.S. News & World Report announced Gonzaga had moved up one spot to reclaim the West’s No. 3 best “Regional University” spot in its annual college rankings. Gonzaga ranks No. 2 in the West for both its average freshmen retention rate and average graduation rate. Additionally, Gonzaga’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is ranked the No. 27 best undergraduate engineering program in the nation (at engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s), tied with nine schools. Gonzaga also remains the No. 4 best value­ in the region.

Nationwide, only seven regional universities – six in the North and Santa Clara in the West – top Gonzaga’s 81 percent average graduation rate. Gonzaga’s 92 percent average freshmen retention rate (for freshmen entering in 2006 through 2009) tops all but four regional universities nationwide; in the West, only Santa Clara’s average freshman retention rate (93 percent) was higher.

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