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Association of American Universities adds 6 schools, including George Washington University



Six universities, half public and half private, are joining an invitation-only club of top research institutions. Among the new members to secure the exclusive milestone is George Washington University in the nation’s capital.

The Association of American Universities announced the expansion of its roster on Thursday, bringing its membership to 71, the largest ever. Three large public institutions known for providing access to educational opportunity are among the newcomers: Arizona State University and the universities of California at Riverside and South Florida. The other two are the private universities of Miami and Notre Dame.

Founded in 1900, the AAU promotes research and defines a certain kind of prestige in academia. Its founders include Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities and the University of California at Berkeley.

Securing an invitation amounts to a signal that a university has arrived, in some way, on the national stage, especially in the intense competition for research funding. It can help a school recruit top faculty. It is a bragging point.

“It is important recognition that we have a significant level of achievement, both in education and research,” GWU President Mark S. Wrighton said. “It provides us opportunities to develop stronger partnerships to advance new knowledge. It’s also a stimulation, by the way, to keep up a very strong trajectory.”

Wrighton was alluding to the reality that membership is not a perpetual guarantee. Sometimes schools drop out of the group. Catholic University, for instance, was a founding member. But that D.C.-based university left the AAU in 2002.


Now GWU, the largest university in the District, is the city’s only AAU member. Georgetown University, also in the District, is highly regarded and usually outranks GWU on measures of prestige such as the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

But on metrics that AAU tracks, including breadth of scientific research, GWU appears to have outpaced Georgetown.

Source: Washington Post

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