I last wrote a couple of years ago about how UGA would dearly love to be in the AAU, the Association of American Universities, which is a conglomerate of the top research universities (see here for my blog, and here for an R&B piece).
The AAU hasn't invited a school since November 2012 and my prediction, based on previous data, is they'll ask someone in 2017. And yes, UGA would love to join that club. As that source of all information, Wikipedia, puts it: "You'd probably be hard-pressed to find a major research university that didn't want to be a member of the AAU." The problem, of course, is UGA's lack of a medical school or strong engineering program, two scholarly fields that generate the kinds of massive federal grants that weigh heavily in the calculus of snagging an invite to the academic prom.
I suspect this is quietly one of our relatively new provost's missions, to get us into AAU. It's the kind of success that propels you to the next level, as a president somewhere. She's a strong proponent of grants, which is great fun if you replace spam with grants and sing the Monty Python song. "Grants grants grants grants ... grants grants grants grants ..."
Our administrators are noted for their sense of humor. Except not at all, so don't pass it along.
My previous post (link above) outlines how you get invited, the role other schools play, and the lack of enthusiasm I suspect two members, Georgia Tech and Emory, might have at such an invitation. As an aside, few SEC schools do well enough academically to be asked to the party -- University of Florida (huge medical and engineering programs), Vanderbilt (no surprise there), and Texas A&M (again, an engineering powerhouse).
Is UGA good enough to be a member? Yes, on the strength of our students and some of our powerhouse faculty (present company excluded), but probably not based on grant dollars. It'd be a close thing and we'll get there eventually.