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BC Recognized With Highest Classification for Research Institutions

After a series of investments in research over the last several years, Boston College qualified for the highest ranking in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education on Feb. 1.

Just as BC moved up into this exclusive bracket, several schools, including Dartmouth College, were dislodged.

“This latest recognition of Boston College’s place among the nation’s leading research universities affirms the wisdom of the investments we’ve made over many years to strengthen our research enterprise and our graduate and professional programs,” David Quigley, provost and dean of faculties said.

“If I were to point to one critical investment, it would have to be in our faculty, and not just in their productivity of scholarship, but in the quality of their innovative and high-impact research.”

-Thomas Chiles, vice provost for research and academic planning

Beginning in 2008, the University’s Light the World campaign raised $468 million toward academic excellence.

The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education began issuing the classification of schools in 1973. According to the Commission, the project was undertaken in order to support its program’s research and policy analysis.

At first, there was no standardized amount of time between updates, but now the committee releases a report every five years. This means that the most recent rankings are from 2010 and 2015.

There are a total of 335 doctoral universities that are classified by the committee into three different divisions that work as a scale. R1 is the label used to identify the “highest” ranking of research activity on one end of the spectrum, while R3 is used to denote the “moderate” level.

The R1 ranking currently consists of 115 institutions, including Arizona State, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the University of Michigan, and BC. 15 of these schools moved up from the R2 category to the R1 division between 2010 and 2015.

Northeastern accompanied BC as another local institution in Boston to advance into the most acclaimed level of research activity, the R1 division. Other schools that moved up include Clemson, Florida International, George Mason, and Kansas State.

“I believe the R1 designation reflects, in part, the investment that the University has made across the board to support faculty research/scholarship, as well as the caliber of many of our doctoral programs, the impact of research being carried out at BC, and the investments in infrastructure to support research,” Thomas Chiles, vice provost for research and academic planning, said.

According to Chiles, the professors conducting their own research on campus are the driving force behind this newly praised success.

“If I were to point to one critical investment, it would have to be in our faculty, and not just in their productivity of scholarship, but in the quality of their innovative and high-impact research,” Chiles said.

BC representatives have asserted that this new label is a sign of the school’s growth and rising caliber. Dartmouth also dropped out of the R1 division, into R2. In the recent Washington Post article, Diana Lawrence, a Dartmouth spokeswoman, suggested that the university’s smaller scale could be to blame for its drop in ranking.

Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, which also moved up in the rankings this year, spoke on behalf of the schools that transitioned up into the highest level of research recognition. He described the various effects that this acknowledgement has on an institution such as his, and highlighted the boost he hopes it will provide for the school’s reputation in comparison to its competitors.

Gee also said that the R1 label assists in the process of hiring and retaining faculty. Membership in this bracket also presents schools as more well-rounded, especially if they are known for their athletics.

“If you’re in the group of 115, you’re clearly a significant player on the national research stage,” Gee said to the Washington Post.

Featured Image by Kelsey McGee / Heights Graphics

February 10, 2016

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