JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Milligan University ranks 15th in the newly released U.S. News & World Report’s Best Regional Universities in the South, according to a Milligan news release that also shows the school has 10% higher enrollment than a year ago.

The release notes the university is the only one in the Northeast Tennessee/Southwest Virginia region to land in the top 15 of the sub-ranking, which lists universities with some master’s programs but few doctoral programs. Two other private liberal arts Northeast Tennessee schools in the category, King and Tusculum Universities, ranked 59th and 86th respectively.

Milligan, which enrolled one of its largest first-time freshman classes ever, has a total enrollment of 1,219 this year, up from 1,106 last fall.

The release pointed to Milligan’s focus on retention. Its overall undergraduate retention rate of 93% and freshman-to-sophomore retention rate of 84% far exceed the national average, according to the release.

“Milligan’s long-term success in rankings, enrollment and outcomes stem from our commitment to mission,” Milligan President Bill Greer said.

“With everything we do, we focus on our mission of honoring God by educating men and women to be servant-leaders. This singular focus inspires our faculty, staff and student’s relentless pursuit of excellence, as well as our commitment to helping every student succeed.”

U.S. News reported that it uses as many as 19 measures in its ranking methodology and that they “only pertain to measures reflecting academic quality and graduate outcomes.”

The magazine also reported that this year’s rankings dropped five previously longstanding factors while modifying the weights of several others and introducing a few new factors.

“We increased the emphasis on how often schools’ students from all socioeconomic backgrounds earned degrees and took advantage of information on graduate outcomes that was not available until recently,” the methodology explanation added.

Milligan also ranked No. 7 for Best Value Schools among Southern regional universities and No. 8 for Social Mobility. The social mobility sub-ranking considers schools’ success at enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students who receive Pell grants, as well as borrower debt.