St. Mary’s University has joined with hundreds of independent colleges and universities nationwide in a first-ever effort to make more information more easily available to parents and prospective students.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) created U-CAN, which stands for Universities and Colleges Accountability Network, to help higher education consumers make the best choice possible when selecting a college or university. It provides concise, Web-based and user-friendly profiles of hundreds of private colleges and universities, including almost 30 in Texas.

“U-CAN seeks to provide both accountability and transparency by giving prospective students and their families a simple and accessible method for gathering information that, while available, can often be difficult to find and discern,” said St. Mary’s President Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. “U-CAN and the almost 600 participating colleges and universities are at the front of an emerging national trend in higher education to provide greater institutional transparency and accountability.”

Each profile shows data such as admissions, enrollment, geographic and diversity, graduation rates, cost, financial aid and graduation rates, all in a common format. It also gives institutions the flexibility to talk about more intangible elements that make a particular school distinctive, such as outcomes, community atmosphere and service learning opportunities.

“A St. Mary’s education is about academic excellence, but it is also about expanding and integrating the educational experience so that our graduates are prepared to become outstanding professionals and leaders in their communities,” Cotrell said. “While there is no substitute for a real-world campus visit, U-CAN provides a virtual window to help prospective students and their families see the whole value of a St. Mary’s University education – or any of the other independent colleges and universities participating. It is a potent tool offering accountability and transparency to help them make one of the most important and lasting decisions of their lives.”

The site is located at

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