Montana State University

MSU rises to top tier of research universities

March 17, 2006 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

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BOZEMAN -- Montana State University is now in the top tier of research universities in the United States.

A new classification system by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognizes MSU as one of 108 research universities with "very high research activity." Other such institutions are Yale University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington and Oregon State University.

MSU's expenditures from sponsored research programs reached almost $100 million in Fiscal Year 2005 and are expected to keep going.

"Given all indications and trend comparisons, MSU will definitely exceed the $100 million level this year and will likely be well over $105 million," said Tom McCoy, Vice-President of Research, Creativity and Technology Transfer.

Research institutions were those that awarded at least 20 doctorates in 2003-04. MSU awarded 42 during that time. Carnegie determined tier placement by looking at research and development expenditures, science and engineering research staff, and doctorates awarded. The foundation then created two indexes of research activity and sorted the institutions accordingly.

"This is a wonderful recognition of the superior efforts of our faculty, staff and students," MSU President Geoff Gamble said of MSU's classification.

Institutions in the second tier have "high research activity." Among the 102 institutions in that category are the University of Montana, North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota, South Dakota State University, the University of Idaho, University of Wyoming, Utah State University and the University of Oregon.

The 82 institutions in the third tier are called "doctoral/research universities." They include the University of South Dakota, Idaho State University and Portland State University.

"To me, this is a testimony and confirmation of the superb quality of the faculty that Montana State University has been able to hire over the last decade and decade-and-a-half," McCoy said. "Specifically focusing on areas and building strengths in those areas has really enabled the institution to rise to this top tier of institutions."

Dave Dooley, MSU's Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said, "This ranking signifies to students that the opportunities for research, scholarship and creative work at MSU are comparable to those found at the very best and most prestigious universities in America. We have an extraordinary faculty and excellent facilities available to students."

The Chronicle of Higher Education said the classifications may interest students and parents who want to compare one institution with another.

Carnegie had a previous system that categorized research institutions as "research intensive" or "research extensive." MSU was one of only three research intensive institutions that moved to the top tier of the new classification system. The others were Dartmouth College and the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center. Other institutions in the top tier were previously listed as research extensive.

Carnegie's new classification system categorized 4,321 colleges and universities into research institutions, associate's colleges, master's colleges and universities, baccalaureate colleges, special-focus institutions and miscellaneous.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu