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University of Nevada, Las Vegas Attains Highest Status as Research University

LAS VEGAS, NV – The University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ (UNLV) drive to rise among the nation’s top public research universities took a major step forward in December when it was elevated to R1 “very high research activity” status by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

R1 is the gold standard for university research classifications, and out of 4,000 institutions nationwide, UNLV now is one of just 130 with the distinction. UNLV had been classified as “high research activity,” or R2, in Carnegie’s last update in 2015.

The news comes as UNLV continues to press forward on its Top Tier Initiative, a campus-wide strategic plan to join the ranks of the nation’s top public universities in research, education, and community impact by 2025. This plan includes earning the top classification by Carnegie.

“This achievement is validation of the commitment and efforts of many individuals, and a step along our journey for UNLV to be the very best it can be,” says UNLV President Marta Meana. “Reaching the highest Carnegie classification is years in the making and will have a wide-ranging impact from recruitment of top faculty and students, to broadening our research efforts, to attracting new businesses that will boost economic growth in our state. This is a proud day for UNLV and the community, and we will continue our meaningful work in Southern Nevada and beyond."

According to Carnegie’s classification website, data from the National Center for Education Statistics and National Science Foundation (NSF) surveys is pulled to determine the classifications. The organization calculates research activity in a variety of categories, including but not limited to doctoral degrees granted, NSF-reported research expenditures, and the number of post-doctoral and non-faculty researchers.

NSF-reported research expenditures are on the rise at UNLV, from $42 million in fiscal year 2015 to $66 million in 2017. The university has also grown its doctoral programs across the disciplines and is awarding more doctoral degrees overall, moving from 124 research doctoral degrees in 2013-14 to 162 degrees in 2017-18.

“We could not have reached this major milestone of our Top Tier strategic plan without all the hard work, dedication and ongoing collaboration among our college deans, chairs, faculty, and staff,” says UNLV Provost and Executive Vice President Diane Chase. “It is a testament to the spirit of our UNLV faculty, staff and students whose creativity and innovation drive so much of our research."

UNLV joins 18 other institutions, including the University of Nevada, Reno, as new arrivals to Carnegie's top classification for 2018.

The Carnegie Classification has been the leading framework for classifying the research activities of colleges and universities in the U.S. for more than 40 years. The first classification was published in 1973, nearly 20 years before UNLV awarded its first Ph.D. in English in 1991.

UNLV’s first Carnegie designation was earned in 1987, when it was classified as a “Comprehensive I” institution, recognizing its offering of graduate education through master’s degrees. Seven years later, UNLV was reclassified as a “Comprehensive Master’s-granting University,” with more than 40 master’s degrees, and earned a ”Doctoral/Research University-Intensive” designation in 2000.

Since 2000, UNLV has greatly expanded its graduate degree programs campus-wide, which includes a School of Dental Medicine and the Boyd School of Law, both firsts for Nevada, and a School of Public Health. UNLV awarded 171 professional practice degrees—in law and dental medicine—last year, with those numbers expected to rise with the 2017 launch of the UNLV School of Medicine.

About UNLV
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of more than 30,000 students and 3,500 faculty and staff that is recognized as “very high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is on a path to join the top tier of national public research universities. The university is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diversifying population and workforce, driving economic activity through increased research and community partnerships, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada.