SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah is one of the newest members to join the Association of American Universities, an organization made up of the country’s leading research universities, the association announced on Wednesday.
The U. is joining the association alongside Dartmouth College and the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Before this year’s invitations, the last time new members joined the association was in 2012, according to the a news release.
“We are delighted to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, the most prestigious association in higher education,” said University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins in a statement.
All three universities are uniquely qualified to join the AAU, according to AAU President Mary Sue Coleman.
“Dartmouth College; the University of California, Santa Cruz; and the University of Utah are all distinguished institutions in their own right, and we were delighted to invite them to join the ranks of AAU,” Coleman said in a statement. “AAU’s membership is limited to institutions at the forefront of scientific inquiry and educational excellence.”
The three new additions bring the association’s number of research universities up to 65. The University of Utah is the first university in Utah to join the AAU.
“These world-class institutions are a welcome addition, and we look forward to working with them as we continue to shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation,” Coleman said.
According to AAU, membership in the prestigious organization is by invitation only and “based on an extensive set of quantitative indicators and qualitative judgments that assess the breadth and quality of a university’s research, graduate, and undergraduate education programs,” a news release reads.
Watkins said the university’s new membership shows the school has excelled in research, scholarship and education.
“Our selection as one of AAU’s newest members reflects the excellence the University of Utah has achieved in each of these areas,” she said in a statement.
Additionally, schools are selected based on research funding. In 2019’s fiscal year, the U. reached a historic $547 million in research funding, a news release stated.
Wednesday’s announcement comes just days after the university announced it had received the largest single-project donation in the university’s history from the Huntsman Foundation to create the Huntsman Mental Health Institute.
Member universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that “improves public health, seeks to address national challenges, and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators,” according to AAU’s website.