UTAH JOINS THE A.A.U.
"It is difficult to overstate the importance of AAU Membership. This elevates the U to an exceptional category of peer institutions."
- Dean Peter Trapa
The University of Utah is one of the newest members of the prestigious Association of American Universities, which for more than 100 years has recognized the most outstanding academic institutions in the nation.
Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), announced Wednesday that University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins has accepted an invitation to join the association, along with the University of California, Santa Cruz and Dartmouth College. The three new members bring the number of AAU institutions to 65.
AAU invitations are infrequent; this year’s invitations are the first since 2012.
“AAU’s membership is limited to institutions at the forefront of scientific inquiry and educational excellence,” said Coleman. “These world-class institutions are a welcome addition, and we look forward to working with them as we continue to shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation.” - Mary Sue Coleman
About the AAU
The AAU formed in 1900 to promote and raise standards for university research and education. Today its mission is to “provide a forum for the development and implementation of institutional and national policies promoting strong programs of academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate and professional education.”
A current list of member institutions can be found here. The membership criteria are based on a university’s research funding (the U reached a milestone of $547 million in research funding in FY2019); the proportion of faculty elected to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine; the impact of research and scholarship; and student outcomes. The U has 21 National Academies members, with some elected to more than one academy.
An AAU committee periodically reviews universities and recommends them to the full association for membership, where a three-fourths vote is required to confirm the invitation.
Leaders of AAU member universities meet to discuss common challenges and future directions in higher education. The U’s leaders will now join those meetings, which include the leaders of all the top 10 and 56 of the top 100 universities in the United States.
“We already knew that the U was one of the jewels of Utah and of the Intermountain West. This invitation shows that we are one of the jewels of the entire nation.” - H. David Burton
U on the rise
In FY2019 the U celebrated a historic high of $547 million in sponsored project funding, covering a wide range of research activities. These prestigious awards from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation are supporting work in geothermal energy, cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches to research that challenge existing paradigms and effects of cannabinoids on pain management.
They also are funding educational research programs with significant community engagement, such as the U’s STEM Ambassador Program and the Genetic Science Learning Center’s participation in the All of Us Research Program.
“AAU is a confirmation of the quality and caliber of our faculty and the innovative work they are doing to advance knowledge and address grand societal challenges. Our students and our community will be the ultimate beneficiaries of these endeavors. " - President Ruth Watkins
On Nov. 4, 2019, the U announced a $150 million gift, the largest single-project donation in its history, to establish the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. These gifts and awards are in addition to the ongoing support of the U from the Utah State Legislature.
This fall the university welcomed its most academically prepared class of first-year students. The freshman cohort includes 4,249 students boasting an impressive 3.66 average high school GPA and an average ACT composite score of 25.8. The incoming class also brings more diversity to campus with both a 54% increase in international students and more bilingual students than the previous year’s freshman class. Among our freshmen who are U.S. citizens, 30% are students of color.
The U’s focus on student success has led to an increased six-year graduation rate, which now sits at 70%—well above the national average for four-year schools. The rate has jumped 19 percentage points over the past decade, making it one of only two public higher education research institutions to achieve this success.
U.S. News & World Report has released their 2019-2020 National University Rankings. The University of Utah is now ranked No. 1 in Utah, No. 104 nationally, and No. 44 nationally among public universities.
The College of Science fared even better. National rankings for science departments at public universities put Biology at No. 27, Chemistry at No. 18, Mathematics at No. 16 and Physics & Astronomy at No. 37. An aggregate of these rankings puts the College of Science at No. 46 nationally and No. 27 nationally among public universities.
There are many factors used to determine a school’s final ranking in the U.S. News & World Report but one factor that is not considered is cost. When cost is factored, there are few universities that challenge the University of Utah.
U.S. News & World Report does not specifically rank Science Colleges. The college rankings published here are an aggregate of their national department rankings.
Science has a long and sweeping legacy at the University of Utah, helping to drive many of the U’s most significant advances. The University’s first Ph.D. was awarded to Jim Sugihara in Chemistry, who studied under the legendary Henry Eyring. Eyring, the inaugural Dean of the Graduate School, turned his administrative offices in the Park Building into a laboratory where he educated generations of scientists. Among them was Peter Gibbs, who went on to chair the Physics & Astronomy Department and established the longest-running lecture series on campus; Frontiers of Science. The series featured 30 Nobel laureates, including Mario Cappechi, who originally joined the U as a faculty member in the Department of Biology. Elsewhere in the College, graduates from Physics and Mathematics, like Alan Ashton (co-founder of WordPerfect), Ed Catmull (co-founder of Pixar), and John Warnock (co-founder of Adobe), went on to pioneering developments in the nascent field of computer science.
This spirit of excellence is alive and well today. The College’s research prominence helped propel the U to ever greater heights, including the University’s recently announced membership in the prestigious Association American of Universities. AAU invitations are infrequent: this year’s invitations are the first since 2012. Membership elevates the University to an exceptional category of 64 peer institutions of the highest research caliber. This recognition is supported by a rising tide of faculty and student achievement in the College of Science, from faculty membership in the National Academies to the most competitive students awards (including a string of four consecutive Churchill Scholars).
Our passion for knowledge extends from the lab into the classroom. Never content to accept the status quo, we are working to innovatively intertwine our research and education missions. The Science Research Initiative (SRI) will, over time, give every incoming College of Science student the opportunity to participate in discovery-based research in state-of-the-art space on the third floor of the Crocker Science Center. The program will help develop high-demand skills in our students, preparing them for exciting careers in the fastest-growing segments of today’s STEM economy.
As we continue to build on the College’s legacy, it is an exciting time for the remarkable students we serve, the dedicated faculty in our ranks, and the accomplished alumni that enhance our reputation nationwide. Extraordinary things are happening at the College of Science. Thank you for being part of our journey.
The College of Science is home to a dazzling collection of world-class researchers and research facilities. Our faculty pursue fundamental questions at the forefront of science and mathematics, from global ecology to physics of the subatomic, and all the theoretical and experimental domains in between. These are the frontiers that will define the most important scientific advances of our time. Generating more than $40M in annual research expenditures, the College's three departments (Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics & Astronomy) and its School of Biological Sciences collectively rank 26th among public universities in the US.
We place students on exciting career paths in the fastest growing segments of today's STEM economy. Innovative educational programs and close faculty-student interactions provide tremendous opportunities for our majors. You will find our internationally-acclaimed faculty in our lecture halls and at our lab benches working with students. The value of a University of Utah science education is unsurpassed: our tuition is a fifth of the cost of many of our peers. We provide opportunity to those who cannot afford to pay more for a lesser education.
These are exceptional opportunities for all of our students. We are constantly seeking ways to study and implement best-practices for student success and inclusiveness for the diverse community of learners we serve. You belong here. We're here to help you succeed.
Research Funding Tops $540 Million
Through the accumulated efforts of University faculty, students and staff, the U achieved its most successful research funding year ever in 2019, passing a $540 million milestone. The final total is $547 million, composed of grants large and small, from donors in all 50 states.
Recognized as a Top-Tier 1 research university—The University’s research vision is to cultivate national and international research community through excellence, innovation, and interdisciplinary research at the University of Utah.
In addition to the U’s diverse research portfolio, the institution is also a catalyst for economic growth and innovation, creating over 302 spin-out companies—and 16,000 jobs—from the university’s inventions and technologies.
With the determination and support of our research community, the University of Utah will continue to develop cutting-edge research to enhance the lives of current and future generations to come.
Thanks to the extraordinary efforts and quality of faculty, trainees and staff, University of Utah research funding reached $547 million in FY 2019, the highest in the U’s history.
Funding grew at around 4 percent per year since 2003, and 7 percent per yer during the past five years. Since 2013, funding has consistently increased every year.
Extramural funding comes mostly from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.
The U’s increase in federal funding builds on the remarkable achievement of Max Wintrobe in 1945 who received the very first grant from NIH to study muscular dystrophy.
The University of Utah produces 49% of total STEM degrees from Utah System of Higher Education schools and 72% of STEM graduate degrees.