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UL Lafayette among nation's top 100 public research universities

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has taken its place among the nation’s top 100 public research universities.

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, made the announcement Wednesday during the annual State of the University address.

Coming on the heels of our R1 designation, this is exceptional news worth celebrating and it’s a headline that all of you helped to write,” Savoie said.

UL Lafayette’s rise to the ranks of the nation’s top public research universities is based on data from the National Science Foundation.

In 2020, the University expended $164 million on R&D. That figure ranked the University 134th among the 655 institutions the Higher Education Research and Development Survey included. The HERD Survey is NSF’s annual index of research spending at U.S. public and private colleges and universities.

But when considering only public universities on the HERD Survey, UL Lafayette ranks 94th – elevating it to the nation’s top 100 public research universities for the first time in its history.

The announcement was among several milestones related to the University’s research capacity that Savoie shared with faculty and staff members during the presentation. The State of the University is held at the start of the fall semester and marks the beginning of the new academic year.

Last year, the University’s research and development expenditures set a record at $181.4 million – an “incredible” 193% increase in R&D spending at UL Lafayette in eight years, Savoie said. 

The University’s R&D expenditures increased by $119 million – from $62 million to $181.4 million – between 2013 and 2021, according to the HERD Survey. During that same period, UL Lafayette marked slightly more than $1 billion in R&D spending, Savoie announced.

UL Lafayette competes against other universities for federal and state grants, and private sector contracts. The University acts as a steward for the funds awarded to faculty and staff researchers.

“This money comes to us from state and federal funding agencies and through partnerships with business and industry because of the reputation this University has for consequential work that answers the greatest questions we face as a global community,” Savoie said.

“Because these dollars have an effect that ripples beyond campus – into our region and into businesses and into the tax base – this figure represents an infusion into the local economy that is extraordinary,” he added.

NSF has not released UL Lafayette’s HERD Survey ranking for 2021 that will be based on the $181.4 million total.

Classes begin at UL Lafayette on Monday. The fall semester marks the start of the first full academic year since the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education designated UL Lafayette as R1, or a university with “very high research activity.” 

Just 146 – 3% – of public and private universities in the United States have R1 status. The designation is a “stamp of excellence” that also comes with an obligation, Savoie said.

“The vital questions asked and answered today by this University’s researchers and scholars strengthen the ability to confront – and answer – greater questions tomorrow. The region, state, nation and world we serve is looking to us for clarity, understanding and results,” he said.

“And this University is up to that responsibility.”

Find more from this year’s State of the University address here.

Photo caption: President Dr. Joseph Savoie announces UL Lafayette’s ascension to the ranks of nation’s top 100 public research universities during Wednesday’s State of the University. (Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette)

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