In December, just as we were wrapping up the winter semester, some incredible news began percolating through the administration and faculty. The latest Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education had been released quietly, with UNLV elevated to the organization’s top status — the rather esoterically named “R1: very high research activity” classification.
What made the classification surprising was that we achieved this part of our Top Tier Strategic Plan much sooner than originally projected, thanks to decades of hard work, dedication, and passion on the part of every member of UNLV and the unwavering support of our incredible community.
Carnegie’s “very high research classification” is the gold standard for higher education institutions. UNLV is now one of just 130 institutions out of 4,000 universities and colleges nationwide with the R1 distinction.
UNLV earned this designation based on a number of metrics from the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the College Board. Our NSF-reported research expenditures, for example, rose from $42 million in fiscal year 2015 to $66 million in 2017. By 2025, we expect that number to climb to $150 million a year.
Another measure is the number of doctoral students we graduate. UNLV has grown its doctoral programs across the disciplines and is awarding more doctoral degrees overall — moving from 124 research doctoral degrees in 2013-14 to 162 degrees in 2017-18. And last year, UNLV awarded 171 professional practice degrees — in law and dental medicine — a number that will jump considerably as we begin graduating new doctors from the UNLV School of Medicine in 2021.
The R1 designation is much more than a new ranking to tout. It enhances our ability to recruit and retain top faculty and keep our state’s best students here. It will further broaden our research efforts and help attract new businesses to our community. And it validates the extraordinary efforts of our faculty, staff, and students.
But we are not resting on our laurels. We will continue to press forward with our Top Tier Strategic Plan, which recognizes the singular role that UNLV plays in stimulating economic development and diversification, fostering a climate of innovation, promoting the health of Nevadans, and enriching the cultural vitality of the communities we serve.
This ranking is part of our journey, not a destination. There is still much work to be done, but I look forward to celebrating many more accomplishments as we continually strive to be the best university we can be for our students, alumni, and all Nevadans. Thank you for partnering with us at every step!