Think Tank Report Places Pitt Among Top U.S. Public Research Universities

Issue Date: 
March 19, 2007

1cover070319a.jpgPitt ranks in the uppermost tier of U.S. public research universities according to The Top American Research Universities, the recently issued 2006 annual report of The Center for Measuring University Performance.The report 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 expenditures, federal research expenditures, endowment assets, annual giving, National Academy members, 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.

After describing research universities as “highly competitive enterprises,” the annual report’s coeditors and The Center’s codirectors—John V. Lombardi, chancellor and professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Elizabeth C. Capaldi, executive vice president and university provost of Arizona State University—noted in the publication’s introduction 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.”

Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg stated: “Since it first was released in 2000, we have considered The Center’s study to provide the most meaningful independent assessment of overall university strength. Obviously, we are pleased to be included in such distinguished company. We also are proud of the fact that an objective assessment of our performance has elevated us into that top group. Since the measures of performance are so broad, the fact that Pitt has done well on all of them is a tribute to everyone who has contributed to our progress—faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, and friends.”

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, University of California at Davis, University of California at San Diego, and 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 now are based at ASU and are done in collaboration with UMass Amherst.