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The U of M receives R1 status: What's next?

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions for Higher Education recently named the University of Memphis an R1, or Research 1, institution. R1 status means the institution has very high research activity.

University President Dr. M David Rudd explained, “Achieving R1 status means the U of M is now ranked in the top tier of all public and private research universities nationally.”

The classification system was created in 1970 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is now managed by the postsecondary research center at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

Every three years, Carnegie updates the status of each university ranking them as either an R1, R2, or R3 school. R2 institutions have high research activity while R3 or Doctoral/Professional Universities have moderate research levels.

Prior to the recent milestone, Memphis was an R2 school for several years. To reach the R1 level of prestige, universities must have a high level of research activity, grants received by the university and other awards.

While the coveted title may not mean much to some students, the achievement will greatly benefit the university in the coming years. It provides prospects for more federal research grants and national partnership opportunities. The honor gives the school more recognition to the school and improves what Rudd calls the “perceived value of a degree” from the University of Memphis.

“The designation will make us more competitive nationally, not only in expanding our national footprint with students, but also in the recruitment and retention of staff,” he said.

Only 146 universities are currently listed as R1 institutions. Three of those are in the state of Tennessee. The University of Memphis is now ranked with schools like Harvard University and Brown University.

“It’s a designation of excellence in our research and scientific mission and means that the state of Tennessee now has two flagship public universities, one in east Tennessee and the U of M,” Rudd explained.

The three universities in the state with R1 status are University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Vanderbilt University, and now the University of Memphis. The university spent several years working towards this accomplishment, but it wasn’t until Rudd became president that the efforts were streamlined.

“We developed a thoughtful strategic plan and made a broad range of investments when I started as president eight years ago,” he said.

Moving forward, the university looks to sustain and develop the R1 classification. Included in that is the expansion of the campus’s research portfolio and gaining support from the State.

In Governor Bill Lee’s recent State of the State Address, he recommended the University of Memphis receive $50 million to go towards research.

“At this point, it’s simply about working to generate sustainable support at the state level while the legislative session is continuing,” Rudd explained.

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