Brandview / 

Photo courtesy of University of Utah

University of Utah asked to join the elite Association of American Universities

By University Of Utah | Posted - Jul. 23, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

What do the top universities in the nation have in common?

They develop breakthrough technologies, conduct cutting-edge research, and prepare the innovative leaders of tomorrow.

That’s why the University of Utah is one of the newest universities to join the ranks of the prestigious Association of American Universities, which has recognized the most outstanding academic institutions in the nation for more than 100 years.

The University of Utah joined Dartmouth College and the University of California, Santa Cruz in accepting the invitation, bringing the total number of AAU institutions to 65. Due to the thorough reviews and vetting required to admit new members, these universities are the first to be invited to the association since 2012.

"AAU’s membership is limited to institutions at the forefront of scientific inquiry and educational excellence," said Mary Sue Coleman, the AAU president.

"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."

University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins said the university was "delighted to be invited to join the Association of American Universities, the most prestigious association in higher education."

"This will open new paths for our researchers and our institution to be at the forefront of higher education research, education, programs and policies," she said.

Photo courtesy of University of Utah

About the AAU

Since 1900, the Association of American Universities has been recognizing the nation’s top research universities that are transforming lives through education, research and innovation.

"Our 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," states the association’s website.

An AAU committee periodically reviews universities and recommends them to the full association for membership, where a three-fourths vote is required to confirm the invitation.

The 65 member universities are leading in innovation, scholarship, and solutions that contribute to scientific progress, economic development, security, and well-being. Its members include Harvard University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and others.

One of the leading research universities in the nation

As one of the country’s top research universities, the University of Utah is dedicated to finding solutions to some of the greatest issues of the day through groundbreaking research and top-tier healthcare.

Whether it’s finding new ways to fight opioid addiction, unlocking new cancer treatments, or offering world-class patient care, the U strives to make the world a better place.

This includes helping in the current fight against the global coronavirus pandemic.

Electrical and computer engineering professor Massood Tabib-Azar is working to develop a portable, reusable coronavirus sensor that people can always carry with them. The sensor, about the size of a quarter, works with a cellphone and can detect COVID-19 in just 60 seconds.

Meanwhile, biomedical engineering assistant professor Jessica R. Kramer has received a new grant to research how mucins, the slimy substance in human tissue, plays a role in spreading coronaviruses such as COVID-19.

In the fiscal year 2019, the University of Utah celebrated a historic high of $547 million in sponsored project funding, covering a wide range of research activities.

Education that transforms lives

With more than 32,000 students from across the U.S. and the world, the University of Utah is the state’s flagship of higher learning. By offering more than 72 major subjects for undergraduates and over 90 major fields of study for graduates, students are prepared to compete in the global workplace.

In the fall of 2019, the university welcomed its most academically prepared class of first-year students. The average high school GPA for incoming freshmen was 3.66 with a composite ACT score of 25.8.

The incoming class also brings more diversity to campus with both a 54% increase in international students and more bilingual students than the previous year’s freshman class. Among freshmen who are U.S. citizens, 30% are students of color.

The University of Utah’s focus on student success has led to an increased six-year graduation rate, which now sits at 70%—well above the national average for four-year schools. The rate has jumped 19% over the past decade, making it one of only two public higher education research institutions to achieve this success.

H. David Burton, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, said the AAU invitation is the result of the investment Utahns make in the university.

"We already knew that the U was one of the jewels of Utah and of the Intermountain West. This invitation shows that we are one of the jewels of the entire nation," Burton said.

For more information, news, and events about the University of Utah, visit

University Of Utah

    KSL Weather Forecast