- The University of Miami (UM) and the University of South Florida (USF) have joined the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), along with four other institutions.
- AAU’s membership now totals 71 universities, including renowned institutions like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford.
- To join AAU, universities must meet specific criteria, emphasizing research excellence, academic reputation, and possessing ample institutional resources.
The University of Miami (UM) and the University of South Florida (USF) both announced on Thursday that they have joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization composed of leading research universities across the United States and Canada.
UM and USF both received membership invitations alongside Arizona State University, the George Washington University, the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Notre Dame. The additions bring AAU’s membership total to 71 institutions—69 American and two Canadian universities. Prior to today’s crop of new members, just four universities had been invited to join in the past decade.
Membership in the AAU, which is regarded as the highest academic distinction in higher education, includes institutions like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Stanford. To become a member, universities must fulfill specific criteria, including a strong emphasis on research. This involves a proven record of obtaining external research grants, publishing in reputable journals, and making valuable contributions to the scientific community.
Academic reputation also plays a role in admittance, with member institutions being recognized for their overall excellence in higher education. Universities must additionally possess ample institutional resources such as faculty, well-equipped research facilities, high-end libraries, and financial stability.
“There are special moments in the life of a university that not only reward our hard work but, more importantly, reaffirm our strategic vision and time-honored mission,” said University President Julio Frenk. “Today is a great day for all of us who love and support the University of Miami and who have invested our efforts and hearts in its continuous quest for excellence.”
UM’s invitation comes as its research and sponsored program expenditures totaled more than $413 million in Fiscal Year 2022, approaching record spending.
Joining the AAU will allow USF to grow its research profile, the institution states, as members earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research. Per the AAU database, faculty at their member universities perform 63 percent of the total amount of federally funded basic research, amounting to $28.8 billion.
“This is a historic and momentous achievement for USF,” said USF President Rhea Law. “Especially when considering we were founded in 1956, to now officially be recognized by our peers as one of America’s leading research universities, is a shining example of our university community’s determination, innovative spirit, and relentless pursuit of excellence. Reaching this milestone only strengthens our ambition to improve lives and positively shape the future of our society.”
Last year, the USF achieved its highest-ever placement in the annual ranking of the best colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report. Among all public institutions, USF ranked 42nd, and among all public and private colleges, it secured the 97th position. This marked the fourth consecutive year that USF has been recognized in the top 50 public institutions and the first time it has made it to the top 100 among all universities.
USF has established itself as one of the fastest-rising institutions in recent years. Over the past decade, the university has made significant progress in the rankings, climbing 52 places among public colleges from 94th to 42nd, and a remarkable 73 places overall from 170th to 97th.