George Mason Achieves R1 Research Classification

Frank Krueger (left) is co-director of the Center for the Study of Neuro-economics. Photo credit: George Mason University.

George Mason University has received the coveted “R1” status bequeathed by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Only 115 institutions across the country earn the “highest research activity” designation.

States the cover story of the winter edition of Mason Spirit magazine:

About 20 years ago, Mason thoughtfully began building a research portfolio that ranged from public policy to the physical sciences. Mason’s total research expenditures were nearly $27 million in 1995, increasing to about $65 million in 2005, and jumping to $101 million in 2016. The university is setting its sights high and aiming or $250 million by 2025.

Bacon’s bottom line:

From an economic development perspective, Mason’s climb to R1 status is a strong positive. Northern Virginia needs a strong research university to bolster the region’s biomedical and IT sectors.

From an undergraduate student perspective, however, the R&D emphasis is a mixed blessing. Stronger research programs create opportunities for some undergrads. GMU’s engineering program, for instance, has built extensive partnerships with Northern Virginia industry that makes summer internships more readily available. But boosting research is expensive — lab facilities and star faculty don’t come cheap. Building research programs puts pressure on university administrations to increase tuition. Between the 2006-07 school year and the 2015-16 school year, the cost of in-state attendance at GMU increased 57%, more than the 53% average for all of Virginia’s public, four-year schools.

The trade-offs are complicated. Which delivers more value to Virginians — economic development opportunities stemming from R&D or from lower barriers to attendance for undergraduate students? You won’t find those questions highlighted in the glossy, university magazines.

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3 responses to “George Mason Achieves R1 Research Classification”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    So what might be helpful would to say what other Universities in Va are also so rated.

    then compare tuition costs between the R1 and non-R1 rated Universities in Va.

    what might also be interesting is to know what areas of research each University is focused on.

    Oh, and maybe someone can remind me again why “small govt” Conservatives would want more job killing regulation and price fixing of Universities.


  2. I find the news the George Mason is climbing the research ladder to be really good for the commonwealth. And this is just the beginning for George Mason. This should soon climb to the top100 research universities in the country. And the institution is well on its way to50,000 students on several campuses.
    And, this is good for Virginia as as the 21st century progresses research and innovation will be a major driving force for economic development. And right now that is a weakness of the Virginia university system. We are far behind Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Maryland among others. And, Virginia does not have a Duke, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, Wake Forest etc. And even public universities compared to public universities we are far behind other states including NC.
    Virginia Tech has started moving up the ladder with their new research oriented (and patent owner) president in place. VT has recently made research central to the long term strategic plan of the university. That will be good for the Commonwealth.
    But we need more research focused universities and the best prospects are the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth with its major health sciences division. Others could contribute to any such effort by the Commonwealth.
    Unfortunately, the best prospect for a national profile in research , U. Va, has been repeatedly set back by political interference. And the last decade U. Va has been held back by repeated political issues not emanating from Charlottesville.
    And, being a research university does not necessarily detract from a quality undergraduate reputation. Look at Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Texas A & M, Texas at Austin or UNC, U. Michigan, University of Washington and countless others.
    Being so dependent on federal spending can no longer be the sole focus of Virginia’s long term economic development. We need a plan that focuses on advanced research, major focus on training for workers in a new economy and a general over working of state supported economic development for the 21st Century.
    So go Virginia Tech and George Mason provide leadership

  3. Virginia has been a bit unlucky not to get a research cluster going (Silicon Valley/San Francisco, Research Triangle, Boston 128, Austin). A lot of this has to do with the locations chosen for our universities years ago, and some political decisions that went another way (Johns Hopkins gets over $1B a year just for running the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, MD). George Mason is the best situated geographically. What does worry me about research in this day and age, is how much the institutions now have to put up because sponsored research does not cover it (cost sharing, start up costs). This has grown considerably. The state could perhaps help out with this, but I really have no idea what the ROI would be.

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