WT Recognized for Student-Centered Approach in National Survey

Masked students at West Texas A&M University
Chip Chandler Aug 27, 2020
  • Community
  • Featured

WT Recognized for Student-Centered Approach in National Survey

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — West Texas A&M University has been recognized for its 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.

“The 2020-21 Colleges of Distinction list is based upon an exemplary commitment to areas such as student engagement, commitment to teaching excellence, community collaboration, and successful outcomes, all of which reflect the mission of West Texas A&M University and are core principles in the University’s generational plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World,” WT President Dr. Walter Wendler said.

While WT has received many accolades in recent months for its online programs, Colleges of Distinction primarily focuses on campus programs, Wendler said.

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 WT 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 that make for a fulfilling, individualized college experience.

“Each school is different, just as every student is different,” Creel said. “There is no No. 1 college for everyone, so we never rank those in our cohort.”

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 WT: first-year seminars, service-learning programs, diversity and global learning programs, undergraduate research and hands-on learning, and study abroad programs.

This is only the most recent honor in a series of accolades for the University. WT’s online program is ranked among the most affordable and best values in the state. The University was ranked among the Top 10 safest campuses in the country and the safest in Texas, and the University Police Department was, for a second time, named a Recognized Law Enforcement Agency from the Texas Police Chiefs Association Foundation.



About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. With enrollment of more than 10,000, WT offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 38 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 15 men’s and women’s athletics programs.


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