Less than two months after Cal State San Marcos President Ellen Neufeldt gave a speech to the community about his “bold” goal for CSUSM to become a national leader in social mobility, a new study has ranked North County University #1 in the United States

On Friday, CollegeNET released its ninth annual report Social mobility index report, and the CSUSM ranked first among the more than 1,400 schools the index measures. Social mobility scores measure a university’s efforts to affordably educate and graduate economically disadvantaged students into well-paying jobs.

To produce its ranking, the Social Mobility Index rates America’s four-year colleges and universities on how they toe the line on tuition, enroll students from low-income backgrounds, graduate those students in good jobs and apply their promotional message to solve our country’s social mobility problem.

For the past seven years, CSUSM has ranked among the top 5% of US universities for social mobility, but this is the first year it has come out on top. Seven other California State University schools were ranked in the top 20.

Although CSUSM officials have been working for years to become a leader in this area, the strategic plan defining these goals was not made fully public until Neufeldt discussed it in his annual report to the community on September 29. in front of a crowd of more than 350 people on campus. In a statement Friday, Neufeldt said she was delighted that the university’s efforts were recognized in this way.

“We are building on CSUSM’s reputation as an escalator for social mobility,” she said. “At a time when the value of higher education is being questioned, the CSUSM stands out as a beacon of hope and opportunity. This recognition reflects the incredible work of our entire campus community to put our students and our region first in everything we do.

The Social Mobility Index differs from most other college and university rankings in that it focuses directly on the factors that enable economic mobility.

The index has traditionally been calculated from the variables of published tuition, percentage of students whose families have incomes below $48,000 (slightly below the US median), graduation rate, median salary that graduates earn about five years after graduation and the size of the university’s endowment size. CollegeNET compares its rankings and the concept of social mobility in general with the annual rankings of US News & World Report, which are based more on prestige and institutional wealth.

Since its opening in 1989, the CSUSM has dedicated numerous programs to promote the social mobility of its ethnically and socio-economically diverse regional population. About half of CSUSM students are from underrepresented minorities, and at least 52% of graduates are the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. About 40% of students are Hispanic-Latin and the number of Native American students is growing rapidly. Additionally, one in nine students is a military veteran, service member, or military-affiliated dependent.

Neufeldt was hired in 2019 to lead the CSUSM, after serving nearly nine years at Old Dominion University in Virginia, where she co-founded a National Center for Social Mobility. Since then, social mobility has become even more integrated into the CSUSM’s mission, particularly as a pillar of the university’s five-year program. strategic plan.

During his presentation in September, Neufeldt said many other efforts are underway to expand CSUSM’s social mobility efforts. In May, the university received a $1 million gift long-time donors Steve and Laura Wagner to create a social mobility fund, and in June he hosted the two-day National colloquium on social mobilitymoderated by the Chairman of the CSU Board of Directors.

“I look forward to continuing our efforts to be a national role model in student success and social mobility – building on the important work already in place and taking it to new heights through innovation, collaboration and inclusion,” Neufeldt said in his statement.