You probably heard the news that the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) achieved Tier One status with its new Carnegie R1 classification. It’s a prestigious designation shared by the top 4% of research universities in the nation, but what exactly does it mean? More importantly, why is it a big deal for San Antonio?
Why university research matters
All public research universities generally share two primary purposes: to educate students and prepare them for professional success, and to make the world a better place through research.
While most people are familiar with the first purpose, the second may not be as widely understood. University research is sometimes called “generating new knowledge,” which is another way of saying that institutions like UTSA are discovering new information to advance humankind in a multitude of ways.
Often, the research being done by university faculty addresses big problems affecting our society — things like poverty, brain disease, housing affordability and carbon emissions. Whether it is helping military veterans transition to civilian life, increasing accessibility to health information among underserved populations, or protecting electric vehicle charging stations from cyberattacks, research being done at Tier One universities like UTSA is playing a direct role in improving lives.
What it all means for San Antonio
Tier One universities attract new businesses, research dollars, world-class faculty members and the talented students who want to learn from them. All of this leads to more impactful research to help current and future generations of San Antonians.
Just as important, having a Tier One university brings a multitude of benefits to our city, including:
- Increasing our economic competitiveness. Companies looking to locate in affordable communities with well-educated workforces will see that San Antonio is producing the talent they need.
- Attracting new money. Partnerships with federal agencies can bring significant financial investments to San Antonio and Texas. UTSA’s Tier One status is proof that we have the talent, capabilities and track record to handle high-level projects.
- Drawing more workforce talent. UTSA’s designation will bring some of the world’s brightest minds to study, work and live in San Antonio.
- Providing a professional boost to UTSA alumni. A degree from a Tier One university is perceived as more valuable by employers and graduate schools.
- Supporting San Antonio businesses and military. UTSA leverages partnerships with local companies like USAA, Valero, Rackspace — as well as relationships with Joint Base San Antonio, NSA Texas and the 16th Air Force — to elevate and disseminate research. These partnerships ensure research is translated into practical solutions for a wide variety of sectors — ones we all depend on in our daily lives.
- Elevating the city’s stature. National recognition of UTSA’s research capabilities brings prestige to our city and graduates. On a larger scale, Texas builds off San Antonio’s success; the state now has more Tier One institutions than any other.
- Addressing “brain drain.” San Antonio students can stay in their home town to pursue an education from a Tier One institution, which is particularly important for those seeking a graduate degree. Graduate students at Tier One universities like UTSA are able to study and conduct research with professors who are on the cutting edge of their fields.
In addition to these benefits, UTSA’s status as a Tier One institution is particularly significant because of the university’s commitment to Hispanic student success.
San Antonio is a city that represents the demographic future of the United States. As one of only 20 Hispanic Serving Institutions in the nation with the Tier One designation, UTSA can advance Latino success in an even bigger way. More Latino students and faculty will have opportunities to do high-level research funded by some of the largest public and private agencies in the nation, and make connections that will help them advance in their fields of study and professions.
Celebrating a major milestone for our community
UTSA will always be about educating students first and foremost — yet research has an equally important ability to change our world for the better. The university now has a “seat at the table” with the nationally recognized institutions across our nation that are solving our society’s grandest challenges, ushering in a new era of exciting opportunities for our city and its citizens.