MSU’s Carnegie classification receives a downgrade

Following changes in the Carnegie classification system, MSU is no longer one of the 108 US universities to hold a very high research activity (RU/VH) rating; MSU still meets most requirements for the RU/VH rating, but it would need to award more doctorates to receive the RU/VH classification in the future. This change was announced on the first day of classes by MSU President Waded Cruzado in a letter written to the MSU community.


“This year, the Carnegie Foundation turned over administration of the classification system to Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Research. With this recent move, some elements of the classification system have also been revised. In its most recent draft reassessment of the classification, the center has placed MSU in the second of its three-category doctoral classification – Doctoral Universities: Higher Research Activity (R2),” Cruzado explained.


In another letter written to MSU faculty and staff, Cruzado said that while work still needs to be done with regard to the number of doctoral degrees MSU is producing, the institution still shows the necessary strength in six of of the seven areas used for classification purposes.


Cruzado noted that Carnegie classifications do not confer financial advantages to the institutions that receive them and said that the Carnegie classification “has been one of the recognitions we treasure at Montana State University and it will continue to be that way. As important as the Carnegie classification is for us, however, it is important to remember we focus on excellence because that is what great universities do, not because we chase designations.”


Additionally, the Carnegie classification has been an issue of major interest to MSU’s Faculty Senate in past years. Cruzado said “While MSU never pursued the categorization, it has been gratifying and fair to be included in the highest tier. Our faculty, staff and students have been justifiably proud of the recognition.”


Because of the importance of the classification to the MSU community, the administration examined the reasoning behind MSU’s declassification and the steps it would need to take to be re-classified.


“MSU has had a strategic plan since 2012 and we are sticking to that plan as we believe it has all the elements necessary to regain the Carnegie classification,” MSU Executive Director of University Communications Tracy Ellig said.


In the letter, Cruzado expressed a determination to continue to follow MSU’s strategic plan set forth by the Planning Council. She said that MSU will continue to focus on its core strengths of agriculture, science, engineering and nursing and would also continue investing in arts, humanities, business, education and social sciences in order to broaden the university’s strengths. She added that the administration was committed to doubling research expenditures during the next decade.


She also praised the work of Renee Reijo Pera, MSU’s vice president for research and economic development, towards championing research at MSU and pointed to the rise of total grants awarded in the last fiscal year (21 percent) and the increase in total dollars awarded (26 percent), concluding that Pera’s work will continue to help advance MSU’s “research enterprise.”


Cruzado said in conclusion, “Our shared goals in regards to the Carnegie classification, along with our passion for our land-grant mission, will inspire us together to continue to excel. Paired with other accomplishments – increased enrollment at all levels, increased quality of incoming classes, the best retention and graduation rates in the state, record number of construction projects and increased donor giving – I know enhancing the recognition of our research is something we can accomplish sooner rather than later.”