UT Arlington, UNT take strides in Tier 1 push

🕐 6 min read

The University of Texas at Arlington and the University of North Texas took some strides toward becoming a Tier 1 university this week, when they were named to a higher research category by the Carnegie Classification on Institutions of Higher Education.

Both universities have been seeking so-called Tier 1 status, which is generally defined as schools that receive at least $100 million annually in research grants, have tight admission standards and low student-faculty ratios, and competitive faculty salaries.

On Monday, UT Arlington and UNT were ranked as R-1 doctoral universities with highest research activity by the Carnegie Classification on Institutions of Higher Education. The R-1 designation places the two schools among a group of 115 institutions that includes Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the “highest research” or R-1 category.

The Carnegie Classification analyzes IPEDS data from all U.S. post-secondary institutions and evaluates measures of research activity for doctoral universities in making its assessments, which are released every five years.

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“This is a tremendous validation of UTA’s emergence as a preeminent university on the national stage. Being ranked as a Research 1 university places us truly among the best of the best,” UT Arlington President Vistasp M. Karbhari said in a news release.

This achievement is commonly considered the most significant step in the evolution of a research university and marks a key milestone in UNT’s commitment toward national prominence, UNT President Neal Smatresk said.

“We moved up in the Carnegie classifications by staying true to our roots as an institution focused on creativity as expressed through our research, scholarship and educational activities,” Smatresk said in a statement. “All along, we’ve paid attention to what matters most, providing our students a great education and helping to build tomorrow’s workforce and the next generation of globally relevant scholars.”

Tom McCoy, UNT’s vice president for research and economic development, said being ranked in Carnegie’s top tier is a result of UNT’s focus on its level of research activity and helping doctoral students succeed.

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“UNT’s official Carnegie Classification as a Doctoral University: Highest Research Activity (R1) matters for many reasons,” McCoy said. “Tier One universities attract top students and faculty, drive innovation and technology through high-level research and scholarship, and contribute significantly to the region and state through intellectual capital and economic development.”

For UT Arlington, the news comes as UTA is recruiting 50 new faculty hires in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA), Education, Science, Liberal Arts, and Nursing and Health Innovation, with more openings to be posted for fall 2016.

“These positions we expect to fill this spring, and the added number of fall recruitments, serve to fuel this continuing drive towards national preeminence in teaching, research, outreach, and service, both at the undergraduate and graduate level,” said Linda Johnsrud, interim vice president for academic affairs and provost.

Last year also saw the school launch the UTA Strategic Plan 2020, one of several initiatives and strategic hires to advance the institution’s mission, reputation and service to the community, according to school officials. In 2015, UT Arlington also announced it will add a 200,000-square-foot Science and Engineering Innovation Research building largely made possible through funding from the Texas legislature and UT System. This building will be used for health science teaching and research. Groundbreaking is expected in October of this year.

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Another Texas school to find its way into the classification is Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

“Designation as a Carnegie Tier One university is not accomplished overnight,” said John Opperman, Texas Tech interim president. “It is the culmination of years of dedication to research, teaching and learning by our administration, faculty, staff and students.”

Other Texas schools with the R-1 designation include UT Dallas, University of Houston, University of Texas, Rice University and Texas A&M University.  


A Texas Tribune article on same subject:

Four Texas Colleges Reach Carnegie “Tier One” Status

by Matthew Watkins, The Texas Tribune

February 2, 2016

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the University of Texas at Dallas among the universities given the “Carnegie Tier One” status. 

Four Texas universities — Texas Tech University, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas — have reached a major milestone in their quests to join the top tier of the nation’s colleges.  

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education listed the universities among 115 schools designated in its highest ranking for research activity. The designation, often referred to as “Carnegie Tier One,” was previously held only by four Texas schools — the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M; University, Rice University and the University of Houston.  

The rankings focus solely on research prominence. But the designation is a sign that the universities are moving closer to state leaders’ goal of increasing the number of overall “tier one” universities in Texas, university and state leaders said.  

“It is quite an accomplishment,” said Raymund Paredes, commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. “It is obviously an indication that our emerging research universities are in fact emerging and becoming top research universities.”   

There is no universally accepted standard for what overall “tier one” means, but in general, schools are expected to bring in at least $100 million per year in research grants, plus have selective admissions and high-quality faculty. Another common measuring stick is membership in the prestigious, invitation-only American Association of Universities. Currently, UT-Austin, A&M; and Rice are widely considered to be tier one. The University of Houston also frequently claims that designation based on its top Carnegie ranking, though it isn’t a member of AAU.  

The universities that moved up in the research rankings celebrated the recognition Tuesday. Tech Interim President John Opperman said the ranking was the “culmination of years of dedication to research, teaching and learning by our administration, faculty and students.” UT-Arlington credited its strategic hiring and investment. UNT called it a major step in its drive for national prominence.  

“This achievement reflects our commitment to excellence in our education and research mission and the quality of our students and graduates,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said. “Today’s recognition is an important step in our journey − but it’s not the end.” 

Disclosure: Texas A&M; University, Texas Tech University, The University of Texas-Arlington and The University of Texas at Austin are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. The University of North Texas was a sponsor in 2014. Rice University and the University of Houston were sponsors in 2013. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2016/02/02/unt-ut-arlington-and-texas-tech-reach-carnegie-tie/.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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