BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - For the first time in the history of the Southeastern Conference, all 14 member universities have been designated as doctoral universities with the highest level of research activity by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, the SEC announced on Monday.
This top designation, historically known as Research 1 or R1, recognizes the nation's most elite research universities. According to Carnegie Commission data, fewer than three percent of all U.S. educational institutions are included in the classification, and the SEC is one of only four NCAA conferences with all its members in the top category.
"Compelling and impactful research has been happening at our universities for decades, and it is rewarding to see all 14 of our members recognized in such a meaningful way through the Carnegie Commission's Classification," said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. "Our faculty and students have received countless grants, awards and honors for their research, and they, along with our research administrators and staff, are the reason the SEC's universities have reached this significant milestone."
Combined, SEC universities' research and development expenditures total nearly $5 billion and their economic impact is approximately $65 billion. Research from SEC institutions is wide-ranging, including agricultural advances aimed at improving the human condition, medical discoveries that save lives, and technological breakthroughs that protect the nation and its infrastructures.
Since 2013 the SEC has supported several research-focused endeavors for faculty, students and administrators from its universities. Past activities include the SEC Symposium, which was designed to address a significant scholarly issue by utilizing the range of disciplinary strengths of all SEC universities; the SEC Academic Conference, which showcased SEC research in an area of scholarly interest to a range of stakeholders; and the SEC Faculty Travel Program, which enhances collaboration by establishing an opportunity for SEC faculty to exchange ideas, develop grant proposals and conduct research together.
"The primary goals of the American university are to teach, conduct research and serve," said Dr. Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina and the SEC. "The 14 members of the SEC have embraced this tri-fold mission with gusto and great zeal in recent years. It is not a surprise to see our efforts, particularly in research, being acknowledged nationally by the Carnegie Commission."
According to its website, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed the Carnegie Classification in 1970 to support its program of research and policy analysis, and it is believed to be the most comprehensive review of educational institutions in the U.S. In making its annual designations, the Commission considers research funding, research staff and the number of doctoral graduates.