Pitt in Top Tier of Public Research Schools for Second Year

Issue Date: 
March 17, 2008

For the second consecutive year, the University of Pittsburgh ranks in the uppermost tier of U.S. public research universities according to The Top American Research Universities, the recently issued 2007 annual report of The Center for Measuring University Performance.

The report again places Pitt in the company of only six other leading public research universities: the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

For its annual report, the center clusters research universities by objectively assessing their performance on nine different measures: total research and development expenditures, federally sponsored research and development expenditures, endowment assets, annual giving, National Academies members, significant faculty awards, doctorates granted, postdoctoral appointees, and median SAT scores. Tables in the annual report group research institutions according to the number of times they rank among the top 25 universities in these nine categories. The uppermost tier comprises those universities, including Pitt, that rank in the top 25 in all nine categories.

The center’s coeditors—John V. Lombardi, president of the Louisiana State University System, where he also is a professor of history, and Elizabeth C. Capaldi, executive vice president and university provost of Arizona State University—have described research universities as “highly competitive enterprises,” saying that “those with the highest performance are successful in almost everything they do. As frequent readers of The Top American Research Universities know, we collect data on nine measures, and the best universities excel on all nine.”

In commenting on the University of Pittsburgh’s performance, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg stated: “This reaffirmation that Pitt is performing at the very highest levels across a broad range of important measures is a tribute to the talent and ambition that characterize the people of this community. Pitt’s inclusion in the very top cluster of America’s top public research universities in last year’s edition of this report was testimony to the seriousness of our commitment to quality in everything that we do. Our inclusion in that top cluster for a second consecutive year is especially gratifying because the competition is keen and other universities are constantly improving.”

In the center’s inaugural 2000 study, Pitt was in the fourth cluster of public universities—along with the University of Arizona, Georgia Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, Purdue University, the University of California at Davis, the University of California at San Diego, and the University of Virginia, ranking among the top 25 public universities in six of nine categories.

As was explained in the introduction to that first study, though the center evaluates public and private universities in the same way, it also presents their performance separately “because the public and private research universities operate in significantly different contexts by virtue of their governance and funding structures. Private universities tend to have much larger endowments than public universities, while public institutions enjoy a much higher level of tax-based public support. Public universities tend to serve much more diverse constituencies in ways that affect their size and organization. Private universities often focus their efforts more closely and define their missions more precisely.”

In January 2007, The Center for Measuring University Performance moved from the University of Florida, where it had been founded, to Arizona State University (ASU). The preparation and publication of The Top American Research Universities are now based at ASU.