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Welcome to an R1 University

Dr. Joseph Savoie -- Mon, 01/10/2022 - 9:13am

Dear students, faculty and staff members,

Let me welcome you to the spring semester with a question: What is an R1 University?

An R1 University is a leading institution. It’s a place of fearless curiosity where knowledge is created, discovered and shared.

An R1 University is at the forefront of innovative research and scholarship. It is an engine for growth and an agent for progress.

An R1 University prioritizes learning by enabling students to work alongside visionary faculty who are leading their respective disciplines into new, and often unimagined, frontiers.

An R1 University serves and improves its community, but its influence and reputation are beyond region. The work of an R1 University touches the world.

Now, let me ask the opening question in a different way: Who is an R1 University?

We are – and you helped make it so. Congratulations and thank you!

For nearly a half century, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has been the leading framework for describing colleges and universities in the United States. It recently ranked UL Lafayette among 137 institutions with “very high research activity,” its top designation

Just 3% of the nation’s public and private colleges and universities have R1 status. Like us, each are leaders in teaching and learning, innovation and research, scholarship and service.

I’m very proud, and you should be, too.

Earning R1 status affirms the University’s decades-long, intentional quest to increase our funded research and development expenditures, award more doctoral degrees, and hire more high-quality research staff.

These are among the measures Carnegie uses to determine R1 status. We’ve excelled in each – often setting records in the process – and achieved more than a respected designation.

We’ve also expanded the reach, depth and reputation of our research program through committing ourselves wholly to the principle that, as a public university, the work being done here should be for the public good.

So, what does this historic achievement mean?

First, it means we’re having a party, and you’re invited.

On Wednesday, Feb. 23, we’ll hold a University-wide celebration followed by a forum that will showcase some of the cutting-edge research that brought us to R1 status. Details on these events will be shared soon, and I look forward to seeing you all there.

Beyond the celebratory, reaching R1 enhances the University’s prestige and that of our region. It helps us attract and retain high-quality students who seek an institution of academic and research excellence as they choose where to go to college.

It makes our current faculty members more competitive. Potential faculty, external funding agencies and policymakers also look for this mark of quality when making determinations. And the designation adds value to the degrees pursued by current students and earned by alumni.

The status is also a selling point for investors. R1 is a statement to donors that support for our faculty and students guarantees a significant return on their generosity. 

Finally, having a top research university in the region is a boon for workforce creation and economic development. It’s attractive for businesses that need an established, trusted source of intellectual capital that an R1 University like ours provides. 

This status did not happen overnight, and it is not the work of one person. Students and faculty, administrators and staff members, donors and elected officials, both current and past, working toward the same goal, built this R1 University. The designation is recognition of what they – what you – produced together.

So, while R1 acknowledges what is, it also challenges us to consider what can be.

Earning this designation is not the end of a journey. Rather, it is a milestone as we travel toward a horizon of infinite possibilities.

We must work every day to justify this status and sustain the momentum that got us here. By continuing to push the bounds of knowledge, scholarship and innovation into places we cannot yet imagine, there is no limit to the impact our University can have on Acadiana, the state, the nation and the world.

This is a challenge we accept. 

Here’s to a safe and successful spring semester at your R1 University.

Thank you and Geaux Cajuns!

Dr. Joseph Savoie