Carnegie Foundation Gives University of Houston its Highest Classification for Research Success, Elevating UH to Tier One Status

In what promises to be a transformative moment in the history of the University of Houston, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced Tuesday that UH has been categorized as a research university with “very high research activity,” the highest classification given to research universities and the equivalent of Tier One status. 

“I am so happy and so proud,” UH President Renu Khator said. “Our students – who today begin a new semester with this incredible news – can say with pride they are getting a Tier One education. They will finally be able to take their diplomas and say ‘I have graduated from a Carnegie Tier One university.’”

The university will host a “Celebration of Excellence” event at 11 a.m., Jan. 28 at Cullen Performance Hall in recognition of the Tier One achievement.

Khator said her administration has been firmly committed to this Tier One goal.

“I give the credit to our faculty, our staff, our students and our Board of Regents who have been so supportive the last two or three years,” she said. “But, at the end of the day, great communities build great universities. It is a compliment to the city and the state and to our fabulous delegation members, our legislative leaders who believed this was an important initiative.”

The Carnegie Foundation is a nationally recognized policy and research center that systematically evaluates and classifies colleges and universities based on empirical data. Universities are reclassified approximately every five years. UH, which previously was in the “high research activity” category, now becomes the third public university in Texas in the top-tier group, joining The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. 

UH faculty reported receiving more than $100 million in research grants last year, more than any of the state’s other emerging research universities. UH’s goal is $200 million by 2021.

Within the academic community, the Carnegie classification is commonly regarded to be one of three indicators that reflect an institution’s rank as a Tier One institution.  The other two are its rank in the Center for Measuring University Performance’s Top American Research University (TARU) reports and membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU).  Recognition by any of these three is generally taken as an indication of Tier One status.

“This phenomenal achievement has come more quickly than almost anyone imagined,” said Carroll Ray, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents. “On behalf of the entire UH System Board of Regents, I send sincere congratulations to Renu Khator, the UH faculty and staff for their hard work. We look forward to further progress in bringing the best and brightest to Houston as we continue to build UH as a research center of Houston and for Texas.”

Khator, who this week begins her fourth year in office, had predicted a five-to-seven year journey toward Tier One status.

“I knew there was work to be done,” Khator said. “But we have been focusing so hard on every single piece, trying to make sure we can support the faculty, support the staff in doing the kinds of things that will take us toward Tier One.  The reason we have achieved this now in 2011 is sheer perseverance and absolute quality and excellence of the university and the community.”

The Carnegie Foundation classifies more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States.  Fewer than 300 are classified as research universities. In its newly published classifications, it cites 109 universities for Top Tier designation – very high research activity.

Khator said the Carnegie designation will bring greater visibility to Houston and will lead to more economic development for the region and sustained research productivity from UH. Tier One recognition for research success, however, is not an end in itself.  UH remains committed to broadening its overall excellence and, in particular, strengthening its performance and reputation for student success.

“Yes, we have obtained the designation of Tier One research, but I want to see our university be nationally competitive in the support and services it provides to students, and in the kinds of students it attracts, and the kind of student success it celebrates,” she said.  “We are not resting until our student success rate reaches the level of national excellence we aspire to achieve.  We have unfinished business.”


About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a comprehensive national research institution serving the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. UH serves more than 38,500 students in the nation’s fourth-largest city, located in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region of the country.

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