The university was under some pressure when the preliminary report of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education was released, due to projection that the university would be bumped from R1 research institution to R2.
R1 denotes the highest ranking of the Carnegie Classification System and is reserved for institutions that have “Doctoral/Very High Research Activity.” The university has been ranked as an R1 research institution since 2000, according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education archives. The last time the university was ranked as R2 was in 1994, according to the archives.
From the preliminary report, before the review period, Brandeis University was one of three institutions, including New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, set to be reclassified from R1 to R2 which is “Doctoral/High Research” classification. After the preliminary report is released, it is sent for a six week review. During the review, data corrections can take place to appeal and reverse classifications announcements. All three institutions’ reclassifications were reversed and they were set to keep their R1 classification.
The reversal came after the institutions updated their information regarding research, during the six week review period following the preliminary projection announcement, according to a Forbes article which had inisitally predicted the drop in ranking. According to a previous Hoot article, classifications are determined from empirical data taken from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from 2019-2020 and from the National Science Foundation surveys from 2019-2020.
The university’s classification is important for obtaining grants and funding for research conducted by the university. It’s especially important because the university uses its R1 status as a selling point on their website. Being a small R1 institution makes the university appear very desirable to prospective students, so being demoted to R2 would be a pretty big hit.
However, it should be concerning to the Brandeis community that the university’s R1 ranking was on the line. For six weeks, the university was set to lose its R1 distinction with multiple sources reporting on it, including Forbes and The Chronicle of Higher Education. What does this say about the direction our university is heading?
As an editorial board we are interested to see where the university takes research opportunities on campus, in order to maintain its status and not risk losing it again. According to the Forbes article, to remain competitive institutions typically draft plans with the classification in mind. Institutions manage their budgets, facility designs, academic programs and faculty hires when attempting to climb or maintain their ranking.
The creation of the Shapiro Science Complex (SSC) was only part of the initiative to revamp the science buildings on campus. The plan never completed the other phases set, due to the 2008-2009 recession. In August 2021, President Ron Liebowitz sent an email to community members with recommendations to plan for phase 2a of the science buildings. In the same email, Liebowitz proposed to “initiate planning for greater faculty and staff support and renewal; and pursue external support for a university-wide data science program and the recently approved program in engineering science.”
These proposed plans would all be crucial in maintaining the status of R1 research institution but no timeline has been put out for when these projects are set to begin or be completed. It is wonderful to say these are things the university wants but it is pointless if no plans are ever actually set in motion. These plans have been in place now for over 10 years and still no progress has been made on them. They remain a part of the university’s future, not the present.