USF Invited into Top-Tier University Group

University of South Florida joins UF as the state’s only two members of the Association of American Universities
Aerial view of USF campus in Tampa
USF is the fifth-youngest institution among the 71 AAU members. USF photo

The University of South Florida has reached a milestone by accepting an invitation to join the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of 71 leading research institutions in the United States and Canada.

USF is one of just two universities from the State University System of Florida to be a member of the AAU, and it is the first public university in Florida to be invited to do so in almost 40 years. The University of Florida in Gainesville was invited into the AAU in 1985.

“The University of South Florida is honored to accept an invitation to become an AAU member and join the most prestigious association in higher education,” USF President Rhea Law said. “This is a historic and momentous achievement for USF. Especially when considering we were founded in 1956, to now officially be recognized by our peers as one of America’s leading research universities, is a shining example of our university community’s determination, innovative spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence. Reaching this milestone only strengthens our ambition to improve lives and positively shape the future of our society.”

The AAU only admits members by invitation. In the previous 10 years, just four universities have been invited to join. USF is the fifth-youngest institution among the 71 AAU members and one of just six that were established after 1950.

“Receiving an invitation to join the Association of American Universities is one of the most significant accomplishments in University of South Florida history,” said USF Board of Trustees Chair Will Weatherford. “To be asked by our peers to join such a highly regarded group of the top research universities is a credit to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and other supporters. Having an AAU institution located in Tampa Bay will have a major impact on our region and the state of Florida for generations to come.”

USF will be able to raise its reputation in research by joining the AAU, whose members get the majority of federal research funding that is granted on a competitive basis. Additionally, membership will strengthen initiatives to bring in more top-tier academics and students to the Tampa Bay area.

For membership, the AAU takes into account a wide range of variables, including graduation rates, the proportion of lower-income students who get financial aid through the federal Pell Grant program, faculty excellence, research activities, and the caliber of educational programs.

“We are very proud to have these six distinguished universities from across the United States join AAU,” AAU President Barbara R. Snyder said. “We look forward to working with all of these universities to continue advancing higher education and laying the scientific foundation that helps keep our economy strong and our nation healthy and safe.”

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