Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is UGA Inching Closer?

I've written far too many times in the past about UGA's chances of being invited to the grownup table of universities -- the Association of American Universities (AAU). My 2016 post here includes some analysis.

Why am I bringing this up now? A recent The Red & Black story reminded me of it. The article notes UGA jumped seven spots in a national research ranking in one year, which is significant. And by invited in the earlier graf, I mean just that. You don't apply to join the AAU, you have to be invited, kinda like getting into tapped into a secret club and learning the secret handshake.

In previous posts I tried to estimate when UGA might possibly get an invitation based on the organization's timeline of adding new members and improvement over time in UGA's research productivity. It was a lost cause, making sense of the numbers, as I'm sure politics plays a role. And really, you expect Georgia Tech to vote in our favor?  Emory, maybe, but Tech?

The AAU can go several years between invitations, then add maybe one or two worthy additions. There's no consistency is what I'm trying to say, no easily predictive outcome. They may go another 10 years. They may invite 10 schools tomorrow.

Finally, it's difficult to generate the kind of research dollars the top schools brag about unless they boast an engineering and medical school on campus. That puts UGA at a disadvantage, though that's changing somewhat due to local initiatives on both fronts. Despite all this, UGA does rate higher on the National Science Foundation research table than some existing AAU members so maybe there's a chance we'll join the 62-school group soon. It would be a major feather in the cap of a certain provost looking to move up to president at a university.

Oh, by the way, you see the survey results here for yourself, which The R&B shoulda linked to in its story so readers could see it themselves.


Forgot to include a page that outlines the many criteria for being asked to join. Some day I'll break them all down and see where UGA stands, but that's a lot of work.