Thursday, May 26, 2022

UTSA achieves National Research Fund eligibility, joining Texas’ elite research institutions

UTSA achieves National Research Fund eligibility, joining Texas’ elite research institutions

MAY 19, 2022 — The University of Texas at San Antonio today announced that it has met the State of Texas’ eligibility criteria to participate in the National Research University Fund (NRUF), a fund created by the Texas Legislature in 2009 with the passage of House Bill 51 to incentivize and support Texas’ emerging research institutions. NRUF-eligibility, also known as Texas Tier One, provides a dedicated source of funding to eligible institutions, helping them to achieve national prominence.

NRUF eligibility is a significant milestone in UTSA’s quest to become a great public research university that advances social mobility and economic prosperity in San Antonio. University leaders estimate that achieving NRUF eligibility will provide the university with access to approximately $6 million annually in designated state dollars to further attract world-class scholars to the university and to ensure they have the support they need to advance their groundbreaking research programs.

“Meeting the state's eligibility criteria to participate in NRUF is a critical waypoint on our path to becoming the next great public research university,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said. “We are now Texas Tier One, and our faculty’s commitment to research excellence and student success only continues to elevate UTSA’s capabilities to tackle society’s grandest challenges on local, state and national scales. We are deeply appreciative to everyone who worked so hard to help us reach this milestone.”


“We are now Texas Tier One, and our faculty’s commitment to research excellence and student success only continues to elevate UTSA’s capabilities to tackle society’s grandest challenges on local, state and national scales.”





Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, added, “NRUF recognition is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and students, who together are forging new ground to further UTSA’s position among the top tier research institutions in Texas. Through working with our outstanding faculty in research, our doctoral graduates are well prepared to fill the important roles of thought leaders and problem solvers in their future careers.”

In addition to being recognized as an emerging research institution by the Texas Legislature, UTSA had to report restricted research expenditures of $45 million or more for two consecutive fiscal years to become NRUF-eligible. The university exceeded this threshold in FY 2020 and FY 2021 with $56 million and $58 million in restricted research expenditures.

The Presidential Initiative on Research Excellence, launched by Eighmy in 2018, has guided UTSA’s work to earn NRUF-eligibility. Its Research Excellence Task Force, led by Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA vice president for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise, implemented an array of strategies to align UTSA’s resources and intellectual talents with the criteria enabling UTSA to earn state and national recognition for its high-quality research enterprise.

These efforts enabled UTSA to meet four additional criteria set forth by HB 51 to earn NRUF eligibility. Notably:

  • UTSA attracted a freshman class of high academic achievement. To meet this criterion, at least half of UTSA’s first-time freshmen had to graduate in the top quartile of their high school classes. In FY 2020 (the fall 2019 entering class), 58% of UTSA’s freshmen were in the top quartile of their high school classes and in FY 2021 (the fall 2020 cohort), 55% of its freshman reached this milestone.

  • UTSA demonstrated recognition of its research capabilities and scholarship attainment by becoming a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation's oldest and most selective all-discipline honor society. The university chartered its Phi Kappa Phi chapter in 2012.

  • UTSA demonstrated its high-quality faculty by meeting the threshold set forth by the State to have five National Academies members on its tenured/tenure-track faculty.

  • To demonstrate its high-quality graduate education, UTSA requested a comprehensive review of the faculty in five of its doctoral degree programs, including Anthropology, Biomedical Engineering, Cellular (Cell) and Molecular Biology, Computer Science, and Management and Organization Studies. Each of these programs successfully passed external reviews conducted by eminent faculty from prestigious Association of American Universities institutions.

“The five doctoral programs reviewed—Anthropology, Biomedical Engineering, Cell and Molecular Biology, Computer Science, and Management and Organization—are examples of UTSA’s commitment to providing transformational experiences to graduate students through competitive, high-quality programs,” said Ambika Mathur, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of the UTSA Graduate School. “We are grateful for our internationally renowned faculty, who guide our students both in and out of the classroom and through research projects across the globe leading to a strong success record of post-graduation placement. We are delighted that these additional funds will allow us to further our work in pursuit of academic excellence for the benefit of our students.”

UTSA’s NRUF designation comes just five months after the university announced it achieved the prestigious R1 Classification from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, an elite national designation known as Tier One that validates the breadth and strength of UTSA’s knowledge enterprise and aligns the university with the nation’s top public and private research institutions.

Arulanandam added, “UTSA has developed an unparalleled knowledge enterprise right here in San Antonio that is driven by world-class investigators who are committed to collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship. As an urban serving university, UTSA is leveraging its research and development capabilities to benefit the San Antonio community and the world beyond. I am immensely grateful to our faculty and staff, who have contributed their time and their talents to achieving this tremendous accomplishment.”

UTSA expects to receive its first biennial distribution from the NRUF in FY 2022, following a mandatory audit by the Texas Comptroller’s office. It joins NRUF-eligible Texas Tech, University of Houston, UT-Dallas and UT-Arlington.

Christi Fish



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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.