Association of American Universities

Association of American Universities
Formation 1900
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Mary Sue Coleman
Education in the United States
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The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an international organization of leading research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education. It consists of 60 universities in the United States (both public and private) and two universities in Canada.


The AAU was founded in 1900 by a group of fourteen Ph.D.-granting universities in the United States to strengthen and standardize American doctoral programs. Today, the primary purpose of the organization is to provide a forum for the development and implementation of institutional and national policies, in order to promote strong programs in academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.


The largest attraction of the AAU for many schools, especially nonmembers, is prestige. For example, in 2010 the chancellor of nonmember North Carolina State University described it as "the pre-eminent research-intensive membership group. To be a part of that organization is something N.C. State aspires to."[1] A spokesman for nonmember University of Connecticut called it "perhaps the most elite organization in higher education. You'd probably be hard-pressed to find a major research university that didn't want to be a member of the AAU."[2] In 2012, the new elected chancellor of University of Massachusetts Amherst, a nonmember of AAU, reaffirmed the framework goal of elevating the campus to AAU standards which inspire them to become a member in the near future, and called it a distinctive status.[3] Because of the lengthy and difficult entrance process, boards of trustees, state legislators, and donors often see membership as evidence of the quality of a university.[1]

The AAU acts as a lobbyist at its headquarters in the city of Washington, D.C. for research and higher education funding and for policy and regulatory issues affecting research universities. The association holds two meetings annually, both in Washington. Separate meetings are held for university presidents, provosts, and other officials. Because the meetings are private they offer the opportunity for discussion without media coverage. Prominent government officials, businessmen, and others often speak to the groups.[1]


Executive Term
Thomas A. Bartlett 1977–1982
Robert M. Rosenzweig 1983–1993
Cornelius J. Pings 1993–1998
Nils Hasselmo July 1, 1998 – April 2006
Robert M. Berdahl May 2006 – June 2011
Hunter R. Rawlings III July 1, 2011 – May, 2016
Mary Sue Coleman June 1, 2016 to present


As of 2004, AAU members accounted for 58%[4] of U.S. universities' research grants and contract income and 52% of all doctorates awarded in the United States. Since 1999, 43% of all Nobel Prize winners and 74% of winners at U.S. institutions have been affiliated with an AAU university. Approximately two thirds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2006 Class of Fellows are affiliated with an AAU university. The faculties at AAU universities include 2,993 members of the United States National Academies (82% of all members): the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine (2004).[5]


AAU membership is by invitation only, which requires an affirmative vote of three fourths of current members. Invitations are considered periodically, based in part on an assessment of the breadth and quality of university programs of research and graduate education, as well as undergraduate education. The association ranks its members using four criteria: research spending, the percentage of faculty who are members of the National Academies, faculty awards, and citations. Two thirds of members can vote to revoke membership for poor rankings.[6][7] As of 2010 annual dues are $80,500.[1] All 60 US members of the AAU are also classified as Highest Research Activity (R1) Universities by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Institution[8] State or Province Control Established Year joined Total students
Boston University Massachusetts Private 1839 2012 30,009
Brandeis University Massachusetts Private 1948 1985 5,808
Brown University Rhode Island Private 1764 1933 8,619
California Institute of Technology California Private 1891 1934 2,231
Carnegie Mellon University Pennsylvania Private 1900 1982 12,908
Case Western Reserve University Ohio Private 1826 1969 10,325
Columbia University New York Private 1754 1900 29,250
Cornell University New York Private 1865 1900 20,939
Duke University North Carolina Private 1838 1938 14,600
Emory University Georgia Private 1836 1995 14,513
Georgia Institute of Technology Georgia Public 1885 2010 21,471
Harvard University Massachusetts Private 1636 1900 21,000
Indiana University Bloomington Indiana Public 1820 1909 42,731
Iowa State University Iowa Public 1858 1958 36,001
Johns Hopkins University Maryland Private 1876 1900 20,871
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Private 1865 1934 11,301
McGill University Quebec Public 1821 1926 36,904
Michigan State University Michigan Public 1855 1964 49,300
New York University New York Private 1831 1950 53,711
Northwestern University Illinois Private 1851 1917 19,218
The Ohio State University Ohio Public 1870 1916 57,466
The Pennsylvania State University Pennsylvania Public 1855 1958 45,518
Princeton University New Jersey Private 1746 1900 8,010
Purdue University Indiana Public 1869 1958 39,256
Rice University Texas Private 1912 1985 6,487
Rutgers University–New Brunswick New Jersey Public 1766 1989 41,565
Stanford University California Private 1891 1900 15,877
Stony Brook University New York Public 1957 2001 24,594
Texas A&M University Texas Public 1876 2001 62,185
Tulane University Louisiana Private 1834 1958 13,462
The University of Arizona Arizona Public 1885 1985 40,223
The State University of New York at Buffalo New York Public 1846 1989 29,850
University of California, Berkeley California Public 1868 1900 36,204
University of California, Davis California Public 1905 1996 34,175
University of California, Irvine California Public 1965 1996 29,588
University of California, Los Angeles California Public 1919 1974 42,163
University of California, San Diego California Public 1960 1982 30,310
University of California, Santa Barbara California Public 1944 1995 22,225
The University of Chicago Illinois Private 1890 1900 14,954
University of Colorado Boulder Colorado Public 1876 1966 32,775
University of Florida Florida Public 1853 1985 49,042
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Illinois Public 1867 1908 44,520
The University of Iowa Iowa Public 1847 1909 31,065
The University of Kansas Kansas Public 1865 1909 27,983
University of Maryland, College Park Maryland Public 1856 1969 37,631
University of Michigan Michigan Public 1817 1900 43,426
University of Minnesota Minnesota Public 1851 1908 51,853
University of Missouri Missouri Public 1839 1908 35,441
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina Public 1789 1922 29,390
University of Oregon Oregon Public 1876 1969 24,181
University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Private 1740 1900 24,630
University of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Public 1787 1974 28,649
University of Rochester New York Private 1850 1941 10,290
University of Southern California California Private 1880 1969 39,958
The University of Texas at Austin Texas Public 1883 1929 51,000
University of Toronto Ontario Public 1827 1926 84,000
University of Virginia Virginia Public 1819 1904 21,000
University of Washington Washington Public 1861 1950 43,762
University of Wisconsin–Madison Wisconsin Public 1848 1900 43,275
Vanderbilt University Tennessee Private 1873 1950 12,795
Washington University in St. Louis Missouri Private 1853 1923 14,117
Yale University Connecticut Private 1701 1900 12,223


Former members

Departed as a result of "institutional emphases and energies" that differed from the other AAU members.[9]
Departed because of a shift in the AAU's emphasis to large research universities.[10]
Removed from the AAU.[7] Chancellor Harvey Perlman claimed that the lack of an on-campus medical school (the Medical Center is a separate campus of the University of Nebraska system) and the AAU's disregarding of USDA-funded agricultural research in its metrics hurt the university's performance in the association's internal ranking system.[6]
Because of a dispute over how to count non-federal grants, Syracuse voluntarily withdrew from the AAU in 2011. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that after "it became clear that Syracuse wouldn't meet the association's revised membership criteria, university officials decided that they would leave the organization voluntarily, rather than face a vote like Nebraska's, and notified the leadership of their intentions."[11]

Map of schools

UC Berkeley
Penn State
Ohio St.
Iowa State
Ga. Tech
UC Davis
UC Irvine
UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara
Johns Hopkins
Three schools*
Stony Brook
Case Western
A map of the AAU schools, with private schools marked blue and public schools marked red. Three schools in Greater Boston are not labeled separately due to space reasons: Harvard, MIT, and Boston University.



The AAU supported the Research and Development Efficiency Act (H.R. 5056; 113th Congress) arguing that the legislation "can lead to a long-needed reduction in the regulatory burden currently imposed on universities and their faculty members who conduct research on behalf of the federal government."[12] According to the AAU, "too often federal requirements" for accounting for federal grant money "are ill-conceived, ineffective, and/or duplicative."[12] This wastes the researchers' times and "reduces the time they can devote to discovery and innovation and increases institutional compliance costs."[12] AAU institutions are frequently involved in U.S. science policy debates. In 2008, AAU Vice President for Policy, Tobin Smith, co-authored a textbook on U.S. science policy.

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 Fain, Paul (April 21, 2010). "As AAU Admits Georgia Tech to Its Exclusive Club, Other Universities Await the Call". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  2. Hine, Chris (June 13, 2010). "Nebraska has it all to attract Big Ten, most importantly AAU membership". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  3. UMass Amherst: Kumble R. Subbaswamy – Feature Story. (May 13, 2012). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
  4. Over $15.9 billion: NIH: $9.1 billion, 60% of total academic research funding. Research Funding: National Science Foundation: $2.0 billion, 63 percent of total academic research funding Department of Defense: $1.2 billion, 56% of total academic research funding Department of Energy: $505.2 million, 63% of total academic research funding NASA: $673.2 million, 57 percent of total academic research funding Department of Agriculture: $271.9 million, 41 percent of total academic research funding
  5. AAU Facts and Figures. Accessed August 24, 2008.
  6. 1 2 Abourezk, Kevin (April 29, 2011). "Research universities group ends UNL's membership". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  7. 1 2 Selingo, Jeffrey J. (April 29, 2011). "U. of Nebraska-Lincoln Is Voted Out of Assn. of American Universities". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
  8. "Member Institutions and Years of Admission". Association of American Universities. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  9. O'Connell, The Most Rev. David M. (2002). "From the President's Desk". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  10. Peter Schmidt, "Clark U. Leaves Association of American Universities; Others May Follow" (September 10, 1999). Chronicle of Higher Education.
  11. Selingo, Jeffrey J. (May 2, 2011). "Facing an Ouster From an Elite Group of Universities, Syracuse U. Says It Will Withdraw". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
  12. 1 2 3 "AAU Statement on the Research and Development Efficiency Act". Association of American Universities. July 14, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.

External links

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