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Carnegie Foundation Upgrades VCU to 'Research University, Very High Research Activity'

The Carnegie Foundation has elevated Virginia Commonwealth University to “Very High Research Activity” status, which combined with its “Community Engaged” designation makes VCU just one of 28 public universities in the country with academic medical centers to achieve both distinctions.

“The combination of the two designations speaks to the quality and quantity of funded research being conducted at VCU, and the commitment that VCU has made to the community in which it resides,” said VCU President Michael Rao.

“This designation on the heels of VCU’s receipt of the prestigious National Institutes of Health grant to further clinical translational research sends a clear message that VCU is a significant academic research university in the region and in the United States,” Rao said.

The Carnegie Classification has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four decades. Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis. Doctoral institutions are classified as either very high or high based upon funded research and doctoral degrees awarded.

VCU expanded its research programs significantly over the past decade as it moved toward its current $255 million in sponsored research. And last July, VCU was selected by the NIH for a $20 million grant to become part of a nationwide consortium of research institutions working to turn laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients. VCU’s involvement brings strength to the consortium in three areas: substance abuse, women's health and rehabilitation science. A major goal of the grant is to support innovation and community engagement research in these areas. 

“Our latest Carnegie rankings reflect a dramatic, decade-long growth in our sponsored- research enterprise,” said Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D., VCU’s vice president for research. “Being among just 28 public universities with the dual ranking distinguishes us nationally. Our faculty deserve the credit for bringing us to this new level of recognition.”

VCU in 2006 was selected for the Community Engagement Classification, which recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that promote community engagement as a central focus of their missions. In addition, the Carnegie Foundation selected VCU as an institution of higher learning that demonstrated a commitment to community engagement in the classroom and to partnerships and outreach beyond the boundaries of campus.

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1905 and chartered in 1906 by an Act of Congress, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center whose charge is “to do and perform all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of the teacher and the cause of higher education.”