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Carnegie refines WMU's status as research university

March 27, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A major overhaul of a higher education classification system produced by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching puts Western Michigan University in a research university category shared by just 76 public universities around the nation.

In the new classification released by the foundation earlier this month, WMU is called a "research university with high research activity." The category is a new one that resulted from a decision by Carnegie to refine its research university categories by adding a new category to reflect the status of doctoral-granting research universities that conduct a high level of research, often without the benefit of having a medical or veterinary school.

WMU shares the new category with such national universities as Clemson, George Mason, Temple, Texas Tech and Virginia Commonwealth universities as well as the universities of Alabama, Maine and Missouri-Rolla. In Michigan, the only other school in the same research category is Michigan Technological University.

"We watched closely as the new classification system developed and are pleased that the Carnegie Foundation has refined its earlier system to reflect the complexity of the higher education arena," says WMU President Judith I. Bailey. "I think WMU's placement in the new category recognizes its standing in Michigan and the nation as a highly productive research university that has carved out a reputation in a distinct set of disciplines."

The new system, which represents the first major Carnegie overhaul since 2000, also augments the previous classifications by categorizing institutions according to undergraduate and graduate instructional programs, overall enrollment and undergraduate student profiles, and size and setting. In addition to its status as a research university with high research activity, WMU is categorized as a "large, four-year primarily nonresidential" university with a "high undergraduate" enrollment profile and a graduate program profile that is classified as "comprehensive doctoral, no medical or veterinary."

According to Dr. James Gilchrist, WMU's director of student academic and institutional research, the multiple classification levels will make it easy to identify and compare WMU with other schools close in size, mission and research status. By selecting the field of public universities in the "high research activity" category and narrowing the group further to include only those schools with the same graduate program profile as WMU, a group of 34 schools can be identified. Those 34 schools include George Mason and Texas Tech and the universities of Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, North Texas and Oklahoma.

"These are schools we might consider our peer institutions." Gilchrist says.

The 2006 Carnegie effort, classifies 4,321 colleges and universities, up from 3,856 in 2000. The foundation first developed its classification system in 1970. This year's revision marks the fifth such overhaul and is attributed to the increasingly complex and multifaceted higher education landscape. The 2000 classification initiative includes Web-based tools that Carnegie officials believe will make it easier to analyze the classification system and group like institutions. Those Web tools and the complete list of colleges can be found at www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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