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Elevated research classification reflects innovation and impact

February 4, 2016

When it comes to research, West Virginia University is a major player.

That is the message behind an exciting piece of news: Our University has achieved the highest level of research activity, as defined by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. We are now a “Highest Research Activity”—or R1—university, one of only 115 among the nation’s more than 4,000 higher education institutions.

This new stature is a testament to the innovative work that our faculty, staff and students do, as well as the University’s strategic action to forge partnerships, build cutting-edge facilities, secure external funding and invest in scholarly excellence.

Signs of our growing research success abound:

  • A $1 million Mellon Foundation grant to rethink digital publishing and multimedia-rich scholarship.
  • A $14.5 million National Science Foundation-funded Physics Frontiers Center for detecting and studying low-frequency gravitational waves.
  • $19.6 million from the National Institutes of Health to address the health issues that most commonly affect West Virginians.
  • An $11 million Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, that will be the first ever long-term, comprehensive field study of the shale gas process from beginning to end.
  • The headline-making work by our Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions researchers, who discovered elevated levels of nitrogen oxide emission from Volkswagen diesel vehicles.

I am proud of our new research classification, which will help us attract and retain top-notch faculty, staff and students. On March 1, our community will come together to celebrate this achievement. More details will be coming your way soon.

Because, as proud as this new distinction makes me, I am even more proud of the type of research our faculty, staff and students conduct: Work that is making a real difference for West Virginia and our region.

Our researchers are working to reinvent the economy in this state. They are ensuring that 1.8 million West Virginians have great health care. They are creating opportunities for our people to thrive, not merely survive. They are tackling the problems facing West Virginia and applying their knowledge to solve them.

As our new classification shows, West Virginia University has a growing reputation on the national scene. But at this land-grant, flagship university, doing our best for West Virginia is always our proudest distinction.