UTSA attains prestigious Carnegie R1 Classification, elevating San Antonio as a destination for innovation

DECEMBER 16, 2021 — The University of Texas at San Antonio today announced that it has achieved the R1 Classification (“very high research activity”), sometimes referred to as Tier One or Top Tier, from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This elite designation validates the breadth and strength of UTSA’s knowledge enterprise and aligns the university with the nation’s top public and private research institutions.

UTSA joins an exclusive group of Carnegie R1 institutions across the United States, including in Texas: UT-Austin, UT-Dallas, UT-Arlington, UT-El Paso, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, University of Houston, University of North Texas and Rice University. Baylor University also joins this group this year.

“Carnegie R1 is a historic waypoint on our trajectory to transform UTSA into one of the nation’s great public research universities.”

“From the moment it was founded just more than 50 years ago, UTSA has been on the fast track to excellence,” UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. “For a university this young to have achieved so much so quickly speaks to great leadership, quality faculty and a broad community of supporters who all share a vision for a forward-thinking university that values innovative research and all the good that comes from it.”

“Carnegie R1 is a historic waypoint on our trajectory to transform UTSA into one of the nation’s great public research universities,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “It is one of the most prestigious research designations that a U.S. research university can attain. I am so proud of our faculty and staff; their extensive contributions made this possible. What is really unique is that UTSA is now one of about 20 universities nationally that are both Hispanic serving and Carnegie R1. I believe we represent the future of public research universities for our state and nation.”

The Carnegie Classification was developed in 1970 by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education to recognize the diversity of U.S. colleges and universities through a systematic evaluation. It is based on several data sources, including an institution’s annual research expenditures, the density of its research staff and the number of doctoral degrees it confers each year.

Today, the Carnegie R1 designation is synonymous with academic excellence and research innovation and impact. The recognition of Carnegie R1 status is just one of the important waypoints on the trajectory of UTSA becoming a great public research university as noted in its strategic plan. Other waypoints include National Research University Fund eligibility and growing the doctoral discovery enterprise.

“UTSA faculty have been central in our journey to reach this distinction,” said UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “Our faculty exemplify scholarly excellence in all of its varieties—fundamental, interdisciplinary, applied, community engaged and translational—which are particularly relevant to UTSA’s mission as a Hispanic Serving Institution and urban serving university. Most importantly, we recognize the impact our outstanding faculty and the R1 designation has in outstanding education for our community that promotes the success of UTSA students.”

Achieving Carnegie R1 designation is a significant milestone in UTSA’s strategic vision to become a model for student success and a great public research university. To advance its Research Excellence destination and earn the designation, UTSA increased its annual research expenditures, expanded its pipeline of doctoral students, garnered national recognition for its researchers and added National Academy members by nomination and recruitment to its faculty.

Under the leadership of Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA’s research enterprise has grown tremendously. Over the past five years, the institution’s research expenditures have steadily increased by 106%, from $68 million in FY 2017 to $140 million in FY 2021. Additionally, UTSA faculty received more than 300 funding grants each year in that five-year span, a significant factor in Carnegie attainment.

“UTSA is committed to tackling the grand challenges facing San Antonio and the nation. The receipt of Carnegie R1 demonstrates the value and impact of the research and scholarly work taking place across our university,” Arulanandam said. “To earn R1, we maximized support for our faculty, developed transdisciplinary research programs, and expanded our research collaborations with the brightest minds in government, industry and academia.”

The growing number of doctoral degrees awarded by UTSA was also key to the university’s receipt of Carnegie R1. Between fall 2017 and fall 2021, the university’s doctoral enrollment increased by nearly 20% (19.4% overall) and in 2020 UTSA conferred 153 doctoral degrees.

UTSA’s academic colleges are currently home to 26 competitive doctoral programs, including a newly approved Ph.D. program in school psychology, and the university has a doctoral program in molecular microbiology and immunology in the review pipeline for approval.

“UTSA faculty, staff and graduate students have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excel and advance UTSA as a world-class institution. Carnegie R1 designation is a testament to their innovative research and transformational community leadership,” said Vice Provost of Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School Ambika Mathur. “There is tremendous excitement across UTSA, knowing that R1 will bring new research and career development opportunities to graduate students, faculty and alumni.”

UTSA’s new R1 Carnegie designation will impact San Antonio as a knowledge economy. UTSA has extensive research collaborations with local research organizations such as UT Health San Antonio, Southwest Research Institute, Texas Biomedical Research Institute, Brooke Army Medical Center and Joint Base Saint Antonio. These relationships have accelerated the establishment of research centers and institutes within the university—including the National Security Collaboration Center, the School of Data Science and the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute—and the founding of the San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics.

Moreover, Carnegie R1 status further aligns with the focus on research and development under the Greater San Antonio Regional Economic Development Plan brought forward by Greater: SATX.

Note: The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education notified selected institutions and launched their public review period on December 15, 2021. The public review will last approximately six weeks, with the official classification to be announced by the end of January 2022.

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