UW-Milwaukee joins UW-Madison as an R1 research institution

UW-Milwaukee has earned the highest rating for a research institution from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the gold standard for assessment. It joins UW-Madison as the only other Wisconsin university to earn the prestigious designation.

UWM receives top research rating from Carnegie

By Greg Walz-Chojnacki, UW-Milwaukee

UWM_ResearchThe University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has earned the highest rating for a research institution from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the gold standard for assessment.

The “highest research activity” rating was given to only 115 of the 4,665 universities evaluated this year. In Wisconsin, only UWM and UW-Madison received the rating, often referred to as R1.

UWM was previously ranked one tier below, as an R2 doctoral university. Chancellor Mark Mone and faculty members celebrated its upgrade.

“The national elevation of UWM among doctoral research universities with the highest research activity confirms what we have long known about the importance and impact of UWM’s research mission,” Mone said. “This is thrilling and gratifying and validation of the remarkable impact of UWM’s faculty, staff and students.”

First published in 1973, the Carnegie Classification is released every five years. The 2015 ranking, issued last week, was done by Indiana University Bloomington’s Center for Postsecondary Research.

The need and desire for a major research institution to support and fuel the southeastern Wisconsin was made clear in the 1986 community-based report “UWM & the Future of Metropolitan Milwaukee,” said David Petering, university distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry. He described UWM’s elevation to the top tier of research universities as “a remarkable achievement symbolic of decades of collective research and creative work and academic program building by past and current stellar faculty.”

Mark Harris, interim vice provost for research, said UWM’s climb reflects an intentional effort that dates back to the 1960s, when the administration began building doctoral departments as “an implicit commitment to research quality.”

“So, even from the start, they were thinking ahead to what kind of university Milwaukee needed,” Harris said.

“When I think of the last 20 years at the university, we have brought in a lot of good young faculty who have been active researchers,” he continued. “And we’ve supplemented that with some investments on the behalf of the university to help them really develop their research.

“Those investments have paid off.”

Physicist Xavier Siemens, a member of the Leonard E. Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics, said one of his research projects is an example of a UWM investment that paid off handsomely.

“I heard about the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav), and while I didn’t know much about it, I thought it was a beautiful experiment, and I wanted to be part of it,” Siemens recalled.

He applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation, but was turned down because of he lacked expertise in the area. Then he applied for, and received, a Research Growth Initiative grant at which he used to develop his expertise relevant to NANOGrav. Read more …