FranU Named a College of Distinction

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Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University has been recognized for its honorable commitment to engaged, experiential education by Colleges of Distinction, which is celebrating its 20-year anniversary as a one-of-a-kind guide for college-bound students. Colleges of Distinction boasts its longstanding support for student-centered schools that traditional rankings often overlook. As an institution whose primary goals are based on student success and satisfaction, FranU confirms its honor as one of the renowned Colleges of Distinction.

Founder Wes Creel traces Colleges of Distinction’s beginnings back to when he was helping his eldest daughter search for schools. The institutions that dominated the rankings were drowning out all the others, and not speaking to what the student experience would be like. He then created Colleges of Distinction to draw more attention to schools like FranU whose student-centered education prevails in applying theory to practice while fostering a dynamic learning community.

While higher education has changed over the last 20 years, Colleges of Distinction’s selection process has stayed consistent—conducting in-depth research and detailed interviews with the schools themselves about each institution’s freshman experience and retention efforts alongside its general education programs, career development, strategic plan, student satisfaction, and more—and accepting only those that adhere to the Four Distinctions: Engaged Students, Great Teaching, Vibrant Community, and Successful Outcomes. Overlaid in the last few years have been a look into High-Impact Practices. This model prioritizes the opportunities institutions have for students who make for a fulfilling, individualized college experience.

“Each school is different, just as every student is different,” said Creel. “There is no number-one college for everyone, so we never rank those in our cohort.” FranU’s inclusion is informed by the unique ways it commits to achieving success.

Creel and his colleagues found that the most pervasive rankings systems rely on metrics like peer reputation, size of endowment, and alumni salaries. They knew instead that most critical to the student experience were the kinds of engaging experiences that are found at FranU: Convocation, Initial welcome of new students to campus; Welcome Week; Introduction to College Education; Introduction to Baccalaureate Education; Franciscan Research Society; Physician Assistant Student Organization; Student Nurses Association; two service-learning courses required for the bachelor’s degree; one service-learning course required for the associate’s degree; pilgrimage to Italy through Campus Ministry; Simulation Environment Teaching Hospital which includes three debriefing rooms, seven simulation suites with attached observation control rooms, and a task training/virtual reality suite; hands-on clinical training prepares students for professions in healthcare; physical therapy gymnasium; the Anesthesia Skills and Simulation Lab; an Anatomage Table; One-on-one appointments available to navigate the 4-year career plan; and an Annual Career Fair hosted on campus.

Creel continued, “It’s inspiring to see FranU commit to the learning styles and community involvement that will best allow their students to thrive.”

About Colleges of Distinction

Since 2000, Colleges of Distinction has been committed to honoring schools throughout the U.S. for true excellence in higher education. The member schools within the Colleges of Distinction consortium distinguish themselves through their dedicated focus on the undergraduate experience. Its website provides dynamic college profiles, customized tools, and resources for students, parents, and high school counselors. For more information, and to learn how to become a College of Distinction, visit

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