Office of the President

Presidential initiative on research excellence

August 3, 2018
Presidential initiative on research excellence

Dear Roadrunners,

I have a conviction that I know many of you share: San Antonio deserves a world-class public research university.

As many of you have heard me say, the city of Boston has eight universities that hold an R1 Carnegie classificationsignifying they engage in the highest levels of research activity.

San Antonio needs a Carnegie R1 institution, and we would like for UTSA to be its first.

Similarly, UTSA is positioned to gain access to the National University Research Fund (NRUF), monies designated by the Texas State Legislature to help our state’s universities achieve prominence on the national stage. The designation comes with about $8 million annually in state dollars that will help us attract leading scholars to UTSA and ensure they have the support they need to pursue groundbreaking research.

To help us reach these goals, I am pleased to announce the launch of the Presidential Initiative on Research Excellence. Led by Dr. Bernard Arulanandam, Interim Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise, this initiative will have a monumental impact on UTSA’s future as a multicultural discovery enterprise.

Dr. Arulanandam and his team have already set the wheels in motion, implementing several strategies over the last year to align our resources and intellectual talents with NRUF and Carnegie R1 criteria. This initiative establishes a task force to shepherd us through the final miles as we prepare for upcoming review cycles.

To be NRUF eligible, we need to meet a slate of targets that encompass research expenditures, faculty awards and Ph.D. graduates, among others. Having helped lead the NRUF journey during my time at Texas Tech, I can say with certainty that this goal is well within UTSA’s reach (just as it was for UT Dallas which announced their NRUF eligibility last week). Our goal is to meet all NRUF criteria in 2020 and 2021. Maintaining our numbers for the mandatory two-year evaluation period will result in full eligibility in the year 2023.

We are on the right path. UTSA’s restricted research expenditures grew from $36.4 million in FY 2016 to $40.1 million in FY 2017, and we’ve seen increases in federal partnerships as part of the National Security Collaboration Center initiative and our other emerging areas of scholarly expertise.

For the Carnegie Classification, we have our sights set on the 2021 evaluation cycle (which will be based on data from our 2020 fiscal year). Seven of our ten peer models of excellence are classified as R1 institutions, and we will emulate their successful practices. Increasing UTSA’s Ph.D. student population will be key to our success, in addition to continuing our research expenditure upward trajectory. As with our NRUF efforts, we have already made great progress in maximizing our Carnegie criteria standings.

Attaining these milestones amounts to much more than additional feathers in our cap. While they will bring new levels of prestige to UTSA and to San Antonio, they will also serve as endorsements of the education we provide to our students. NRUF and Carnegie R1 underpin our commitment to providing transformational experiences inside and outside of the classroom, engagement opportunities with world-renown scholars, and preparation for careers and meaningful work that tackles our society’s grandest challenges. They set the stage for UTSA to align with those institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities – in fact, our peer model U.C. Irvine is already an AAU member institution.

If you look ahead ten years, UTSA’s impact will be even deeper than it is today – with multiple campuses, more faculty, a larger graduate student population and a research enterprise among the best in Texas. NRUF and Carnegie designations are waypoints along this path, and I am grateful to you, our faculty and staff, for the critical roles you all play in charting our course forward.

With appreciation,