2020 AURA Awardees: Georgia College & State University; Utah State University

CUR Honors 2020 Recipients of the Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments

CUR will present its 2020 Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA) to Georgia College & State University (Milledgeville, GA) and Utah State University (Logan, UT) virtually on April 22, 2021. This award recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates.

Now in its sixth year, the AURA award draws on CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR), which outlines criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity programs. For AURA recognition, campuses must demonstrate depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation. Institutions of different Carnegie classifications are considered for the award.

“The 2020 AURA recipients reflect a dedication to wide participation of students and disciplines, curriculum-based experiences, opportunities for student-faculty recognition and publication, and improvements based on data,” said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer. “Amid the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is inspiring to see the steadfast commitment of these higher education institutions to excellence in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry on their campuses.”

Georgia College showed impressive growth of its undergraduate research program over a 10-year period. Its integration of undergraduate research with other proven high-impact practices, participation in dialogue on undergraduate research at a national level, application of survey data to improve the program, infusion of undergraduate research into curricula (including a capstone experience), and emphasis on interdisciplinary collaborations that involve many student populations provide a model for other campuses.

“We are grateful for this award as it recognizes the hard work and effort we’ve put into making undergraduate research a priority for our students,” said Steve Dorman, president of Georgia College. “This could not have been done without the dedication of faculty, department chairs, deans, staff, the provost, and others who have worked for many years to establish a strategic way to engage our students in research.”

Hosting one of the oldest undergraduate research programs in the country, Utah State engages large numbers of students and faculty in research across colleges, offers significant opportunities for presentation and publication of undergraduate research (such as biannual research symposia), and builds institutional structures that recognize student and faculty service in undergraduate research, The university’s commitment to assessment offers clear measurement of learning outcomes, and its program shows promise for easy adaptation to varied institutional types.

“Undergraduate research is central to who we are as a land-grant institution,” said Noelle Cockett, president of Utah State University. “Student research and creative inquiry combines the strengths of our three-part mission of learning, discovery, and engagement. We know firsthand the exceptional benefits that come from strengthening ties between our undergraduates and our faculty researchers and having them tackle projects that are important to our state, nation, and the world.”

Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) focuses on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity. Among the many activities and networking opportunities that CUR provides, the organization also offers support for the professional growth of faculty and administrators through expert-designed institutes, conferences, and a wide-range of volunteer positions. The CUR community, made up of nearly 700 institutions and 13,000 individuals, continues to provide a platform for discussion and other resources related to mentoring, connecting, and creating relationships centered around undergraduate research. CUR’s advocacy efforts are also a large portion of its work as they strive to strengthen support for undergraduate research. Its continued growth in connections with representatives, private foundations, government agencies, and campuses world-wide provides value to its members and gives voice to undergraduate research. CUR is committed to inclusivity and diversity in all of its activities and our community.

CUR focuses on giving a voice to undergraduate research with learning through doing. It provides connections to a multitude of campuses and government agencies, all while promoting networking and professional growth to its community.

As Georgia’s public liberal arts university, Georgia College offers undergraduate programs of study to talented and motivated students in a residential college setting. Georgia College also provides graduate and professional studies that support the needs of the region and create pathways to individual success and personal fulfillment. Its academically engaging, student-centered programs often take learning beyond the traditional classroom and develop the intellectual, professional, civic skills and dispositions that enable graduates to thrive in a rapidly evolving, complex and technologically infused world.

Founded in 1888, Utah State University (USU) is Utah’s land-grant and space-grant university. USU is a Carnegie RU/H (Research University/High Research Activity) institution with approximately 27,700 students (24,660 undergraduates and 3,040 graduate students) on the Logan main campus. Utah State’s statewide system features eight campuses and 23 education centers and serves all counties in the state with Extension programs.