The Association of American Universities (AAU) is a binational organization of leading research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education. It consists of 60 universities in the United States (both public and private) and two universities in Canada.
The AAU was founded in 1900 by a group of 14 Ph.D.-granting universities in the United States to strengthen and standardize American doctoral programs. American universities—starting with the Johns Hopkins University in 1876—were adopting the research-intensive German model of higher education. Lack of standardization damaged European universities' opinions of their American counterparts, however, and many American students attended graduate school in Europe instead of staying in the US. The presidents of Johns Hopkins, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of California sent a letter of invitation to nine other universities to meet at Chicago in February 1900 to promote and raise standards.
In 1914 the AAU began accrediting undergraduate education at its members and other schools. German universities used the "AAU Accepted List" to determine whether a college's graduates were qualified for graduate programs. Regional accreditation agencies existed in the US by the 1920s, and the AAU ended accrediting schools in 1948.
Today, 62 universities in the U.S. and Canada are members and the primary purpose of the organization is to provide a forum for the development and implementation of institutional and national policies, in order to promote strong programs in academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.
The largest attraction of the AAU for many schools, especially nonmembers, is prestige. For example, in 2010 the chancellor of nonmember North Carolina State University described it as "the pre-eminent research-intensive membership group. To be a part of that organization is something N.C. State aspires to." A spokesman for nonmember University of Connecticut called it "perhaps the most elite organization in higher education. You'd probably be hard-pressed to find a major research university that didn't want to be a member of the AAU." In 2012, the new elected chancellor of University of Massachusetts Amherst, a nonmember of AAU, reaffirmed the framework goal of elevating the campus to AAU standards which inspire them to become a member in the near future, and called it a distinctive status. Because of the lengthy and difficult entrance process, boards of trustees, state legislators, and donors often see membership as evidence of the quality of a university.
The AAU acts as a lobbyist at its headquarters in the city of Washington, D.C. for research and higher education funding and for policy and regulatory issues affecting research universities. The association holds two meetings annually, both in Washington. Separate meetings are held for university presidents, provosts, and other officials. Because the meetings are private they offer the opportunity for discussion without media coverage. Prominent government officials, businessmen, and others often speak to the groups.
|Thomas A. Bartlett||1977–1982|
|Robert M. Rosenzweig||1983–1993|
|Cornelius J. Pings||1993–1998|
|Robert M. Berdahl||2006–2011|
|Hunter R. Rawlings III||2011–2016|
|Mary Sue Coleman||2016–present|
As of 2004, AAU members accounted for 58% of U.S. universities' research grants and contract income and 52% of all doctorates awarded in the United States. Since 1999, 43% of all Nobel Prize winners and 74% of winners at U.S. institutions have been affiliated with an AAU university. Approximately two thirds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2006 Class of Fellows are affiliated with an AAU university. The faculties at AAU universities include 2,993 members of the United States National Academies (82% of all members): the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine (2004).
AAU membership is by invitation only, which requires an affirmative vote of three fourths of current members. Invitations are considered periodically, based in part on an assessment of the breadth and quality of university programs of research and graduate education, as well as undergraduate education. The association ranks its members using four criteria: research spending, the percentage of faculty who are members of the National Academies, faculty awards, and citations. Two thirds of members can vote to revoke membership for poor rankings. As of 2010[update] annual dues are $80,500. All 60 US members of the AAU are also classified as Highest Research Activity (R1) Universities by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
|Institution||State or Province||Control||Established||Year joined||Total students|
|Brown University||Rhode Island||Private||1764||1933||8,619|
|California Institute of Technology||California||Private||1891||1934||2,231|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||Private||1900||1982||12,908|
|Case Western Reserve University||Ohio||Private||1826||1969||11,340|
|Columbia University||New York||Private||1754||1900||29,250|
|Cornell University||New York||Private||1865||1900||21,904|
|Duke University||North Carolina||Private||1838||1938||14,600|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia||Public||1885||2010||29,370|
|Indiana University Bloomington||Indiana||Public||1820||1909||42,731|
|Iowa State University||Iowa||Public||1858||1958||36,001|
|Johns Hopkins University||Maryland||Private||1876||1900||23,073|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts||Private||1865||1934||11,301|
|Michigan State University||Michigan||Public||1855||1964||49,300|
|New York University||New York||Private||1831||1950||53,711|
|The Ohio State University||Ohio||Public||1870||1916||57,466|
|Pennsylvania State University||Pennsylvania||Public||1855||1958||45,518|
|Princeton University||New Jersey||Private||1746||1900||8,010|
|Rutgers University–New Brunswick||New Jersey||Public||1766||1989||41,565|
|Stony Brook University||New York||Public||1957||2001||25,272|
|Texas A&M University||Texas||Public||1876||2001||62,185|
|The University of Arizona||Arizona||Public||1885||1985||40,223|
|The State University of New York at Buffalo||New York||Public||1846||1989||30,183|
|University of California, Berkeley||California||Public||1868||1900||36,204|
|University of California, Davis||California||Public||1905||1996||34,175|
|University of California, Irvine||California||Public||1965||1996||29,588|
|University of California, Los Angeles||California||Public||1919||1974||42,163|
|University of California, San Diego||California||Public||1960||1982||30,310|
|University of California, Santa Barbara||California||Public||1944||1995||24,346|
|The University of Chicago||Illinois||Private||1890||1900||14,954|
|University of Colorado Boulder||Colorado||Public||1876||1966||32,775|
|University of Florida||Florida||Public||1853||1985||49,042|
|University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign||Illinois||Public||1867||1908||44,520|
|The University of Iowa||Iowa||Public||1847||1909||31,065|
|The University of Kansas||Kansas||Public||1865||1909||27,983|
|University of Maryland, College Park||Maryland||Public||1856||1969||37,631|
|University of Michigan||Michigan||Public||1817||1900||43,426|
|University of Minnesota||Minnesota||Public||1851||1908||51,853|
|University of Missouri||Missouri||Public||1839||1908||35,441|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||North Carolina||Public||1789||1922||29,390|
|University of Oregon||Oregon||Public||1876||1969||22,980|
|University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania||Private||1740||1900||24,630|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pennsylvania||Public||1787||1974||28,649|
|University of Rochester||New York||Private||1850||1941||10,290|
|University of Southern California||California||Private||1880||1969||39,958|
|University of Texas at Austin||Texas||Public||1883||1929||51,000|
|University of Toronto||Ontario||Public||1827||1926||84,000|
|University of Virginia||Virginia||Public||1819||1904||22,391|
|University of Washington||Washington||Public||1861||1950||43,762|
|University of Wisconsin–Madison||Wisconsin||Public||1848||1900||43,275|
|Washington University in St. Louis||Missouri||Private||1853||1923||14,117|
The AAU supported the Research and Development Efficiency Act (H.R. 5056; 113th Congress) arguing that the legislation "can lead to a long-needed reduction in the regulatory burden currently imposed on universities and their faculty members who conduct research on behalf of the federal government." According to the AAU, "too often federal requirements" for accounting for federal grant money "are ill-conceived, ineffective, and/or duplicative." This wastes the researchers' times and "reduces the time they can devote to discovery and innovation and increases institutional compliance costs." AAU institutions are frequently involved in U.S. science policy debates. In 2008, AAU Vice President for Policy, Tobin Smith, co-authored a textbook on U.S. science policy.
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