Seven years ahead of schedule, University of Nevada, Las Vegas is now the first public university in Nevada to achieve “Tier 1” status.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education gave UNLV “R1” status, a designation reserved for institutions with “very high research activity.”
The shift is the result of Carnegie reshaping categories to count advanced professional degrees such as medical or law degrees as part of their evaluation, where it hadn’t before.
“In addition to the former threshold (conferring 20 or more ‘research/scholarship’ doctoral degrees), institutions that conferred 30 or more ‘professional practice’ doctoral degrees in two or more programs were also included,” Carnegie said in announcing the adjustments. Universities achieving R1 status also had to report at least $5 million of research spending.
According to UNLV, reported research expenditures are on the rise at UNLV, from $42 million in fiscal year 2015 to $66 million in 2017.
The reshaping means that a small handful of universities moved up to R1 or “very high research” activity designation— the classification includes 120 institutions, up from 115 in 2015, according to Inside Higher Ed’s analysis. Across all categories, nine institutions moved up in classification, while four moved down.
UNLV has long and publicly sought the R1 designation, aiming to be “recognized as a top-tier public university in research, education and community impact” by 2025.
In documents outlining that effort, the university has envisioned top-tier status as a key part of stimulating economic development and diversification, promoting health and community well-being, and “enrich(ing) the cultural vitality of the communities that we serve.”
“This achievement is validation of the commitment and efforts of many individuals, and a step along our journey for UNLV to be the very best it can be,” said acting UNLV President Marta Meana in a statement. “Reaching the highest Carnegie classification is years in the making and will have a wide-ranging impact from recruitment of top faculty and students, to broadening our research efforts, to attracting new businesses that will boost economic growth in our state. This is a proud day for UNLV and the community, and we will continue our meaningful work in Southern Nevada and beyond.”