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How Our Region and State Benefit from USF’s Invitation to the AAU

By University of South Florida President Rhea Law:

The University of South Florida, much like the Tampa Bay region we are proud to call home, has come a long way since its early days as a local commuter school. Just as our region has transformed into one of the fastest-growing areas of the country, USF also has transformed into one of the nation’s top public research universities.

As we often say at USF, behind every great community is a great university, and vice versa. And now, the prospects for our shared future are even brighter.

This month, USF accepted an invitation to join the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU), which is comprised of 71 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada. AAU universities comprise just 3% of all four-year universities in the U.S.

When businesses explore where to move or expand, they want to be close to universities with quality talent and resources. USF is already a catalyst that fuels growth across our region and state, and we play a significant role in preparing the highly skilled workforce essential for the business community to flourish. As an AAU member institution, we’re now better positioned to serve this important need in our communities and make an even bigger impact.

Membership in the association will mean enhanced funding opportunities for USF, positively impacting the Tampa Bay region and the state. Member universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that seeks to address local and national challenges. For example, in 2020 (the most recent year for which data is available), nearly $29 billion in federally funded basic research, or 63% of the total amount funded, was performed by faculty at AAU universities.

The invitation to join the AAU is undeniable recognition by our peers that USF is one of the nation’s top-tier universities. Membership is based on a variety of factors, such as research activity, faculty excellence, and the quality of educational programs, as well as graduation rates and the number of lower-income students who receive financial aid through the federal Pell Grant program.

Read the rest of the article in the Tampa Bay Buisness Journal.