University of Arkansas Elevated to Highest Carnegie Classification Among U.S. Universities and Colleges

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas has been elevated to the highest possible classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching during its recent reclassification of the nation’s 4,633 universities and colleges. The University of Arkansas is one of just 108 schools with this distinction.

University of Arkansas Chancellor G. David Gearhart said the new status “documents the University of Arkansas’ advancement as a nationally and internationally influential research university.”

Speaking Monday at a news conference on campus, Gearhart said the new classifications of the Carnegie Foundation “reflect the fact that the U of A is now among the nation’s most productive schools when it comes to advancing higher learning and stimulating economic opportunity through innovation and creativity.

“This new status reflects the kind of return on investment the University of Arkansas is producing for our state, our nation and our many public and private sector partners,” Gearhart added.

Since their initial publication in 1973, the Carnegie classifications have been widely accepted as the standard categorization of accredited U.S. universities and colleges. The classifications are based on a range of quantitative data related to the number and nature of doctoral degrees awarded annually, the amount of research grants and activity occurring, and other measures of scholarly productivity.

The Carnegie Foundation’s latest reclassification, published in January, was the sixth time in 34 years that it has re-categorized the nation’s public and private universities and colleges. The action was based on each institution’s 2008-2010 performance numbers. According to the Carnegie Foundation, its classifications reflect the nature and performance of U.S. institutions, and do not imply quality differences among the 4,633 universities and colleges it analyzes.

The University of Arkansas’ new category is RU/VH, which is defined as a doctoral-granting, research university with very high levels of research activity. Prior to 2011, the university was categorized as RU/H, the second-highest of the Carnegie Foundation’s 33 categories. The elevation to the highest classification was primarily a result of sustained increases in the number and diversity of doctoral degrees awarded and in research grants and contracts received. See more about the classifications at the Carnegie Foundation website.

Gearhart said that the new Carnegie classification “is a reflection of the university’s transformation as a truly world-class institution.

“It documents our advancement as a nationally and internationally influential research university,” he said. “We have reached this top status as a result of the innovation, productivity and successful collaboration of our university’s faculty, students and staff.”

Sharon L. Gaber, the chief academic officer at the University of Arkansas, agreed.

“This upward movement highlights the quality and depth of the academic opportunities that our faculty and students experience at this institution,” said Gaber, the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The change in Carnegie classification reflects the university’s growth in ways that have enhanced its educational, economic, social and cultural value and reputation here in Arkansas and around the world.”

For James Rankin, vice provost for research and economic development, the new classification will enhance the university’s reputation and appeal as it moves toward its goal of $250 million in research awards by the year 2021.

“The new classification will raise greater awareness within the research, business and venture capital communities that we are one of the top performing world class research universities and that we are located in Arkansas,” Rankin said.

“This accomplishment is a direct reflection of the faculty, their hard work, their dedication and really to the quality students that the faculty are recruiting and mentoring,” said University Professor Ro DiBrezzo, chair of the Faculty Senate.

Amy Apon, professor of computer science and computer engineering, and herself a leading researcher, said the new classification recognizes the quality of research being done on campus.

“The Carnegie classification is further evidence the University of Arkansas is world class and it will help attract more world-class researchers,” Apon said. “We have great faculty and these great faculty attract great students of great talent to Arkansas.”

For students, the new classification also means more opportunities. Amy Stokes is a graduate student who is about to complete research that led to her recent doctoral degree. She is also soon to start a new job. She said everyone benefits from this recognition.

“Graduates of the U of A are able to compete nationally for jobs, and when they get and are successful in those jobs, they become the university’s and the state’s best form of advertising,” Stokes said. “At the same time students from all across the country are now looking at Arkansas as a top choice for receiving a quality education. This new classification just lets everybody else know what we’ve known all along: Arkansas is at the top of its class.”

Established in 1871, the University of Arkansas is the state’s first land-grant institution and the flagship of the University of Arkansas System. Its fall student population totaled 21,405, and features students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 123 nations of the world. More than 62,315 of its alumni currently live in Arkansas.

Follow the University of Arkansas on Facebook and Twitter.

Contacts

John Diamond, associate vice chancellor
University of Relations
479-575-5555, diamond@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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