The physics lab of Ferris Professor Michael Naughton. (Photo by Gary Wayne Gilbert)

Boston College has received another affirmation of its growing strength among the nation’s best research universities with the announcement that it has been elevated to an 'R1' institution—a designation assigned by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education to doctoral universities with the highest levels of research activity.

Boston College is now one of only 115 universities in the “highest research activity” classification, and was one of only 15 universities to move into the top echelon this year.  

Derived from empirical data, the 2015 edition of the Carnegie report is the most comprehensive review of research prowess at more than 4,660 colleges and universities in the United States.

"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,” said Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley. “We remain committed to research that seeks to make a difference across disciplines and around the globe."

“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,” said Tom Chiles, the DeLuca chair in biology and vice provost for research and academic planning.   

“However, 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.  One needs only to look, for example, at the natural sciences and math, where our faculty are routinely being awarded prestigious fellowships and federal grants from the NIH and NSF.”  

Of the 108 institutions given the highest-level research designation in the previous Carnegie report issued in 2010, 100 remained in the R1 category in the 2015 edition, while 15 institutions moved from level 2 to level 1, and eight moved from level 1 to level 2. Joining Boston College in its rise this cycle were Northeastern, Clemson and Syracuse universities.  

 “If you’re in the group of 115, you’re clearly a significant player on the national research stage,” said West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, whose school rose in the classification this year.  “It helps recruit faculty. It helps retain faculty. It helps us to increase the quality of the student body.”

The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed the Carnegie Classification of colleges and universities in 1970 to support its program of research and policy analysis. First published in 1973, it subsequently has been updated in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005 and 2010.

In 2014, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching transferred responsibility for the project to IU Bloomington's Center for Postsecondary Research in the IU School of Education, which oversaw this classification.

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