OAKLAND CITY, Ind. (WEHT) — Oakland City University President Ron Dempsey says he attributes the success of his faculty and staff to how the university has increased in the online rankings from a regional university to a national university.

In the last U.S. News and World Report rankings, Oakland City was ranked as seventh nationally for “social mobility.”

“Social mobility” refers to the number of low-income individuals or families who are recruited and eventually graduate from an institution.

“”I think our faculty are super important when it comes to helping out our students. And then also too our student life folks, just the folks on campus who are really willing to accept and work with — again — these students,” President Dempsey said. “They come from families who don’t have experience with college.”

President Dempsey says an aspect of higher education is uplifting students in their education.

The students who attend Oakland City say their faculty meanwhile have made a difference in their college experience and say they feel comfortable talking with their faculty.

“It’s actually a blessing to be so close to all your professors and faculty and coaches because — being a small, private school — everybody knows everybody and everybody helps everybody out,” Oakland City student-athlete Hunter Johnson said. “So, we’re able to get a close connection with everybody.”

“I just love the relationship of it, and they know you personally — not just a number, but your name,” Oakland City student-athlete Emily Deguire said.

With the latest U.S. News rankings expected to be published later in September, the university says it will continue to support their students that call Oakland City their college home.

“I think we’ll continue doing that,” President Dempsey said. “To be number seventh in the nation and a small, private college is extremely important, and we’re ranked against a lot of large universities.”