America’s Top Ten Universities

If you want to stir up a heated debate, talk religion, politics, or – alma maters. There are unlimited lists of America’s best colleges and universities. For our purposes, we consulted the current list from Forbes, one of the most respected analyses of American institutions of higher education.

Up front, I will offer one obvious oversight – Houston Baptist University. There is no better university in the land. HBU proudly affirms, “Jesus Christ is Lord,” and has great programs in nursing, theology, education, business, and the arts. HBU offers graduate programs including a Ph.D. in Education. The Huskies compete in NCAA Division 1 athletics as a member of the Southland Conference. And HBU has the nation’s best president, Dr. Robert Sloan.

I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out where I went to college. Having gotten that out of my system, I give you America’s best universities – other than HBU.

1. Princeton – The ivy-covered campus is a private institution, located in the quiet town of Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton was the first university to offer a “no loan” policy to financially needy students, giving grants instead of loans to accepted students who need help paying tuition.

2. Harvard – A private institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is located just outside of Boston. This Ivy League school is the oldest higher education institution in the country and has the largest endowment of any school in the world.

3. Yale – Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University offers a small college life with the resources of a major research institution. Yale students are divided into 12 residential colleges that foster a supportive environment for living, learning, and socializing.

4. Columbia – Made up of three undergraduate schools, Columbia is a private school that guarantees students housing for all four years on campus in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood in New York City.

5. Stanford – The highest rated non-Ivy League institution, Stanford sits in California’s Bay Area, about 30 miles from San Francisco. They stress a multidisciplinary combination of teaching, learning, and research, and students have many opportunities to get involved in research projects.

6 University of Chicago – Situated in Chicago’s Hyde Park community, this institution offers a rich campus life in a big city setting. Since 1987, the private university has hosted a four-day scavenger hunt, regarded as the largest in the world.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Though MIT may be best known for its math, science, and engineering education, this private research university also offers architecture, humanities, management, and social science programs. The school is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across the Charles River from downtown Boston.

8. Duke – Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is a private institution that has liberal arts and engineering programs for undergraduates. The Duke Blue Devils sports teams have a fierce rivalry with the University of North Carolina, and they are best known for their men’s basketball program, which has won numerous national championships.

9. Penn – The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin. It is a private institution in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia. Students can study in one of four schools that grant undergraduate degrees: Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Wharton.

10. California Institute of Technology – With a focus on science and engineering, the school features a low student-to-faculty ration of 3:1. The private institution is found in Pasadena, California, and is actively involved in research projects with grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lost Wallet

It happened in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. A man was simply walking down the street. We don’t know where he was going or even who he is. But then he saw it. Laying on the pavement in front of him was a wallet. He did what we all would do. He picked it up. Then he looked inside. He found some money, some credit cards, and a driver’s license.

To his shock, the wallet belonged to Steve Martin, famed actor and comedian. Mr. Martin was in town to play a bluegrass concert. He had been riding a bike down that street just moments before, when his wallet fell out.

Now the stranger had a dilemma. Would he simply turn the wallet in to the authorities? Or would he keep the cash and throw it back down? Or maybe he would seek a hefty reward from the wealthy actor. Nobody was looking. If he took the money, no one would know. What did he do?

To his credit, he turned in the wallet, refusing any possible reward. That is the definition of character. It’s doing the right thing, and waiting on God to bless our obedience according to his plan. It’s what you do when no one is watching.

What would you have done?

Babe Ruth

In 1926, Johnny Sylvester got kicked in the head by a horse. The wound got badly infected. Doctors told his parents the bad news. Johnny would die.

“I wish I could see Babe Ruth wallop a homer before I die,” Johnny told his parents.

So they sent a telegram to the great slugger of the New York Yankees. And Babe Ruth sent an answer. He would hit a homer just for Johnny in the next game.

Johnny Sylvester instantly became one of the most famous boys in baseball history. Did Babe Ruth slug one for Johnny? Yes! In fact, he hit three homers in that game. It was an incredible gift for young Johnny.

But let’s get back to his injury. Were the doctors right? Did Johnny Sylvester die?

Yes, they were right. Johnny did die – but not until he was 74.

The Bible says, “It is appointed to man once to die.”

Babe Ruth was a legend. He still is. Perhaps it was his inspiration that led Johnny Sylvester to become one of America’s great business executives.

We can learn from that. Inspire someone today. You never know when their last days will come. But God does.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Revelation 14:13).

The Rushmore Report: How Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s Faith Impacts His Coaching

The Alabama Crimson Tide play in the semi-final game in their quest for another national championship this Saturday night. Prohibitive favorites, Alabama is clearly the superior program in college football. It’s not even close. As Saban nears iconic coach Bear Bryant’s record of six national championships, he is opening up about his faith. And it is that faith that helps him prepare young athletes to be the best they can be.

A devoted Catholic, he was asked by a reporter, “Does your Catholic faith play into the success of your career as a football coach?”

Saban answered, “I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that character, moral development – they are a part of leadership.” He continued, “I look at it as, we always say, ‘God have mercy,’ but that mercy is not a well. It’s not a cistern. It’s a channel that should run through us to other people. That’s part of what we try to do for our players so they have a chance to be more successful in life.”

Saban was also asked about the new student center at his church, St. Francis of Assisi University Parish in Tuscaloosa. It is called the Saban Catholic Student Center, obviously named after the famous coach.

Said Saban, “We’ve tried to raise money for it as well as making a significant contribution ourselves. My wife, Terry (married 44 years), is very involved in it. We have a lot of Catholic participation by our students here. We felt it would be great for them to have a place where they can go to socialize and develop the kind of relationships that might be helpful to them and their faith development.”

The Sabans started attending the church when he took over as head coach in 2007.

Saban has also been honored with a statue on campus at the University of Alabama. Whether he wins his record sixth national title or not, he will continue to lean heavily on his Catholic faith, and impart the blessings of faith to his players and staff.

About the Author

Mark Heim is a sports writer for the Press-Register newspaper and AL.com, based in Mobile, Alabama. He has covered the football program of the University of Alabama for the past 16 years.

The Rushmore Report: The First Key to a Better Future

2017 is just three days away. If you are like me, you will set goals for the new year. If you aren’t like me, you’ll still set goals for the new year. There are many factors that go into having a better future: setting goals, a positive attitude, mapping out a plan, and perseverance. But in order to have a better future – and a spectacular 2017 – there is one step you absolutely must take first. If you do this one thing, you will be well on your way to a better future.

Do you want to have a better future and a great new year? Then do this one thing; it really is that simple . . .

If you want to have a better future, stop trying to have a better past.

There is a reason cars are made with huge windshields and small rear view mirrors. It’s good to glance back from time to time. We need to learn from our mistakes – or we will repeat them. What God has allowed in your past, he wants to redeem in your future. So it’s okay to visit your past; just don’t live there.

If you want to have a better future, stop trying to have a better past.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called my heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). The fact is, we all have a past. Paul had a past – a horrible past. But he learned to “forget what is behind.”

If you want to have a better future, stop trying to have a better past.

Every success story has a past. For every Superman there is a kryptonite. No one wins every race, makes every deal, or gets the prize every time. We all have a past. As you look to 2017, you will be tempted to judge the year you can’t see by the one you can. But that’s not how God works. His name is “I AM,” not “I WAS.” God does not live in the past – why would you want to live where God cannot be found.

If you want to have a better future, stop trying to have a better past.

Don’t run from your past; just run toward your future. Nothing will help you claim your best future than a decision to not live in the past. Everything in your past – I said everything – will inform and bless your future. But it will never replace your future. God’s promise is sure – “I know the plans I have for you. They are plans to prosper you and not to harm you” (Jeremiah 29:11).

You can have a year like none other. 2017 can be your best. God wants it that way. But there is one undeniable step you must take first, in order to have an incredible future.

If you want to have a better future, stop trying to have a better past.

Cleaning Up the Mess

We used to have a cocker spaniel named Duffy. She was one happy mess. Every time a guest would come over to our house, she would lick them to death and then wet the floor. Duffy’s bladder was unable to control her joy.

We were always cleaning up after her. She slobbered horribly. When she would run or shake her head, slobber flew everywhere, and we’d clean it up.

But we loved her anyway. She was incredibly loving, loyal, and fun. And messy.

One day, due to a back problem that is common among Cockers, Duffy became paralyzed. She couldn’t walk or get to her food dish. We spent a king’s ransom on her back surgery, knowing it may not be successful. Then we just had to wait and see. We fed her by hand and carried her outside where she could at least enjoy the view.

One day, she began to move again, and she eventually recovered fully. But Duffy remained a mess. That was okay, because she was our mess. We loved that dog. We didn’t like the messes, but we were willing to clean them up because we loved Duffy more than we hated the mess.

The truth is, we are all a mess. You are a mess. But God loves you more than he hates your mess.

And as you enter the New Year, know this. God loves you enough to clean up after you.

The Rushmore Report: The Historic Decline of the Democratic Party

As President Obama prepares to leave office, his party is smaller, weaker, and ricketier than it has been since at least the 1940s. The Democratic Party has frittered away tremendous power – from 2009 through the aftermath of the 2016 elections. The decline of the Democratic Party is indisputable and historic. For those who think the Democratic Party is not in crisis, the following data will destroy this fallacious argument.

  • Democrats surrendered the White House to a political neophyte.
  • Democrats’ seats in the Senate have slipped from 55 to 46 – down 16 percent.
  • Democrats’ House seats have dropped from 256 to 194 – down 24 percent.
  • In 2009, Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Now they control neither.
  • Governorships have dropped from 28 to 16 – down 43 percent.
  • State legislatures plunged from 27 to 14 – down 48 percent.
  • States with Democratic governors and legislatures are down from 17 to 6 – off 65 percent.

Since FDR, eight presidents have served at least two terms or bowed to their vice presidents due to death or resignation. Among them, Obama ranks eighth (last) in total state legislative seats that his party preserved during his tenure.

Obama has supervised the net loss of 959 such Democratic positions, down 23.5 percent, according to Ballotpedia, which generated most of the data cited here. This far outpaces the 843 net seats the Republicans yielded under President Eisenhower.

By this measure, Ronald Reagan is No. 1. While he was president, Republicans gained six statehouse seats.

In terms of boosting his party’s state-level strength, Obama is the worst president since World War II. Reagan is he best.

“My legacy’s on the ballot,” Obama said in September, just as he had said before the shellacking his party received in the 2014 midterms.

Democrats have paid the ultimate price. The political cadavers of more than 1,000 Democratic incumbents and nominees, from Hillary Clinton on down, confirm that Obama is poison at the polls.

Rather than enjoy a traditional, low-key post-presidency in Chicago, Obama plans to hunker down in Washington, D.C., comment on current events, and counsel his party’s candidates and officeholders. Democrats should find this as appetizing as dinner cooked by Typhoon Mary.

About the author

Deroy Murdock is an American political commentator and a contributing editor with the National Review. Murdock is a first-generational American, with roots in Costa Rica.

The Rushmore Report: Vegas Odds on 2020 Presidential Winner

Donald Trump has not yet been inaugurated, but that isn’t stopping Vegas from taking bets on the next presidential election. The gambling site Bovada is laying the odds on who will win the election in 2020. Twenty-one names are on the list, including eight Republicans. Some of the names will surprise – the list includes potential candidates named Biden, Clinton, Sanders, and Obama. Yes – Obama. Here’s the list.

John Kasich (40/1) – Bovada ranks several Republicans, which means they would have to replace Trump as the Republican nominee. Ohio’s governor famously skipped the GOP convention because he didn’t support Donald Trump.

Marco Rubio (33/1) – Note that several people are tied at 33-to-1 odds. Rubio, a Florida senator, famously feuded with Trump during the 2016 primaries, earning the nickname “Little Marco.”

Kamala Harris (33/1) – The first Democrat on the list, she was just elected as a California senator after previously serving as the state’s attorney general. She’ll only have four years of experience in 2020, but President Obama also only had four years experience when he was elected president in 2008.

Nikki Haley (33/1) – The South Carolina governor and new member of the Trump cabinet is a rising Republican star and favorite among young conservatives.

Trey Gowdy (33/1) – The South Carolina Republican congressman is known for talking tough and he has a strong legal background.

Kristen Gillibrand (33/1) – The Democratic junior senator from New York has vowed to recruit more women for political office.

Ted Cruz (33/1) – The Republican Texas senator battled Trump for the 2016 nomination and unenthusiastically endorsed him.

Catherine Cortez Masto (33/1) – The Democratic senator-elect from Nevada will be the first Latina senator. Like Harris, she will only have had four years of Senate experience in 2020.

Michael Bloomberg (33/1) – The former mayor of New York City considered running in 2016 and probably regrets that he didn’t, so 2020 could be his year.

Joe Biden (33/1) – The outgoing vice-president considered running against Hillary Clinton in 2016 but decided not to after the 2015 death of his son Beau. Biden is popular, particularly with working class voters whom Trump lured from the Democrats. He’ll be 77 in 2020, which would make him the oldest person to win the presidency if he won.

Bernie Sanders (20/1) – The Vermont senator came close to upsetting Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. But in 2020, he’ll be 79.

Amy Klobuchar (20/1) – The Minnesota senator is extremely popular in her home state and a rising star in the Democratic party.

Hillary Clinton (20/1) – After losing the Democratic nomination in 2008 and coming so close to the presidency in 2016, does the former Secretary of State have it in her to try again? She’ll turn 73 in 2020, but Trump is eight months older.

Julian Castro (20/1) – The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development is a Texas native and considered a future leader among Democrats. He could put the state of Texas in play for the Democrats.

Cory Booker (20/1) – The New Jersey senator is a talented campaigner and speaker and is one of the most prominent African-American Democrats. He is also very popular among his peers.

Elizabeth Warren (14/1) – The Massachusetts senator could pick up supporters of the Sanders movement. She has feuded with Trump, but also has expressed a willingness to work with him on certain issues.

Tim Kaine (14/1) – Clinton’s running mate knows his way around Washington and may be the de facto candidate given his role as her understudy.

Michelle Obama (12/1) – The First Lady is terrifically popular, but has said the job doesn’t interest her. That may change after a few years of Donald Trump.

Paul Ryan (10/1) – The House Speaker is a star among traditional conservatives, but it will take a TV drama worth of surprises for him to somehow replace Trump as the presidential nominee, but that’s true of every other Republican on this list, too.

Mike Pence (10/1) – The new vice-president would be the obvious candidate to replace Trump if he opts to not seek a second term.

Donald Trump (2/1) – The president-elect will be the man to beat, assuming he seeks a second term. So far, there’s no reason to think he won’t.

The Rushmore Report: Prediction – Trump Will Be Impeached

The man dubbed “Prediction Professor” for accurately calling almost every election since 1984, including the 2016 election, now forecasts the impeachment of President-elect Donald Trump. “There’s a very good chance that Donald Trump could face impeachment,” Allan Lichtman told Erin Burnett on “Erin Burnett Out Front.” Impeachment – what is the basis for this prediction by one of the few who said Trump would beat Hillary Clinton?

Lichtman, a political historian who teaches at the American University in Washington, says he uses his own system of 13 true or false statements to judge whether the incumbent party will retain the White House. However, when it comes to his bold prediction of a Trump impeachment, he told Burnett it’s based on instinct.

“First of all, throughout his life he has played fast and loose with the law,” Lichtman said. “He has run an illegal charity in New York state and he has made an illegal campaign contribution through that charity. He has used the charity to settle personal business debts. He faces a RICO lawsuit.”

Burnett pushed back at Lichtman’s claim, noting his allegations have not been proven in a court of law and went on to ask why he thought Trump could be impeached when Republicans hold both the House and Senate.

“The Republicans are nervous about Donald Trump,” Lichtman said. “He is a loose cannon. Nobody knows what he really believes or really where he stands. He can’t be controlled. The Republicans would vastly prefer to have Mike Pence, an absolutely predictable down-the-pipe conservative Republican.”

About the Author

Leinz Vales is a producer for CNN. Having received his Bachelors degree in journalism and media studies from Rutgers University and a Master’s degree from Columbia University, Vales is also a freelance reporter and frequent speaker on college campuses.

The Rushmore Report: Obama’s Top 5 Achievements & Top 5 Failures

As President Obama’s eight years in the White House wind toward closure, his presidency is already being judged by historians and pundits. A recent USA Today poll gives him a 57 percent approval rating. And to be sure, he can boast of some significant achievements over the past eight years. But there have been failures, as well. Here, we will identify five of his greatest successes – and failures. You be the judge.

Five Achievements

1. The Affordable Care Act – Obama supporters consider this to be his chief domestic achievement. It is indisputable that Obamacare provided health insurance for millions of previously uninsured Americans.

2. The killing of Osama Bin Laden – Obama authorized the raid that took out the terrorist dictator. As Commander in Chief, he deserves credit for that which happened on his watch. This was a great victory for national security.

3. Stimulating the auto industry – After the Great Recession, the auto industry was on life support. Through initiatives early in office, the President provided relief, resulting in 250,000 new jobs for GM and Chrysler under Obama’s watch.

4. Dodd-Frank Act – Mr. Obama led Congressional passage of this new law which holds Wall Street accountable in the event of another financial crisis.

5. Economic recovery – Taking over a poor economy, President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law, cutting taxes and saving millions of jobs. The jobless rate has hit historic lows (though millions have quit looking for jobs.)

Five Failures

1. Partisan division – The president jammed through the Affordable Care Act without a single Republican vote. This set the tone for historic partisanship, as he governed with little input from Republicans while by-passing Congress with a record number of executive orders. Meanwhile, he blames Republicans for failure to pass immigration reform, when he could have done so with no Republican input (as he did with Obamacare) during his first two years in office, while Democrats still controlled both the House and the Senate.

2. Exploding national debt – After calling President Bush’s $10 trillion debt “unpatriotic” and “un-American,” his policies led to more debt than the previous 43 presidents accumulated – combined.

3. Failure to deter Iran and ISIS – The world’s chief export of international terrorism is stronger than ever. They scoff at Obama’s unenforced rhetoric (“red line”), while he continues to free terrorists whose stated intent is to re-engage in American attacks. As for ISIS, his miscalculation (remember “the JV team” quote?) and refusal to even identify the enemy (radical Islamic terrorists) have led to an utter failure to defeat the enemy.

4. Failing housing market – The burst of the housing bubble has cost Americans more than $7 trillion in home equity. Home values have fallen under Obama, and now stand at 2002 levels.

5. Overpromising economic recovery – Referring to the recession, Obama told Matt Lauer in 2009, “If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s gonna be a one-term proposition.” Instead, Obama has engineered the slowest economic recovery in American history.