For the second year in a row, Bowdoin increased its ranking in the U.S. News & World Report survey of the nation's best liberal arts colleges.

The College also reclaimed its position as the top food service in the United States, according to The Princeton Review.

With an overall score of 91, Bowdoin tied for sixth with Pomona College in the U.S. News rankings. Last year Bowdoin and Davidson College shared the seventh spot and a combined score of 89.

In an interview with the Orient, President Barry Mills expressed his pleasure that the U.S. News recognized Bowdoin for its excellence and underscored the importance of the rankings to the College.

"I think the rankings are clearly important and must be taken regard of," he said. "Parents and students who are thinking about Bowdoin pay attention to the rankings."

Released last month, the rankings named Williams College the premier liberal arts institution, with Amherst College a close second. Colby and Bates colleges came in 20th and 21st, respectively.

The College's peer assessment score and the percentage of first-year students from the top ten percent of their high school class increased from the previous year. The average peer assessment?based on an evaluation of Bowdoin by administrators of other schools?rose to 4.4 from 4.3 in 2004.

Bowdoin's faculty resources rank of 38th continued to be the College's weak link in the survey. The rank consists of various criteria including faculty compensation, student-faculty ratio, and class sizes. Of the top nine schools listed in the survey, Bowdoin's student-faculty ratio, at 10 to 1, is the highest.

Mills questioned whether the high ratio lessens the value of a Bowdoin education.

"It's not at all clear," he said, "that in order to be an excellent place one needs to have a student-to-faculty ratio of less than 10 to 1."

Mills also pointed to the young average age of faculty members at Bowdoin as a factor in lowering our faculty resources score.

"Although our faculty are paid very, very competitively in terms of total compensation, the fact that many of them are younger than in some other institutions has a negative effect on the rankings," he said.

U.S. News also recognized Bowdoin for its economic diversity. The College ranked ninth in a list of liberal arts schools with the highest percentage of Pell Grant recipients. Currently, 13 percent of Bowdoin students receive the grants.

Despite Bowdoin's annual tuition of 41,660 dollars, it was ranked the 11th best value among liberal arts colleges based on both the quality of the school and the generosity of its financial program.

While Mills acknowledged that some schools may manipulate school policy to increase their standing in the rankings, he maintained that Bowdoin avoids such practices.

"I'm neither leading nor managing Bowdoin on a day to day basis to increase our U.S. News ranking," he said. "What I'm doing is leading the College in a way that makes us the best place we can be. To the extent that raises us in U.S. News, that's great."

Bowdoin also fluctuated in The Princeton Review's recently-released "Best 361 Colleges" rankings. The College moved up to first in the Review's list of schools with the best campus food.

While the campus administration maintained its 19th spot on the list that recognizes schools that "run like butter," Bowdoin fell from 10th to 16th in the "Dorms like palaces" category, and altogether dropped off the list for "Best quality of life."

The Princeton Review, whose rankings are based on unscientific surveys of student opinion, formally surveys each campus every three years.

According to Senior Editor Lisa Marie Rovito, the 2003-2004 school year was the last time that the Review surveyed Bowdoin students.

As a result, this year's rankings changes are predominantly due to changing opinion at schools other than Bowdoin.

Evan Kohn contributed to this report.