CUR Recognizes Campuses with Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) is pleased to announce that Furman University, Clemson University, and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will receive the 2016 Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment (AURA). This annual award recognizes institutions that have developed exemplary programs providing high-quality research experiences to undergraduates. Now in its second year, the award is modeled on the organization’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, a document that presents criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity programs. This year’s awardees will be honored during the Council on Undergraduate Research Executive Board reception on January 27, 2017, at the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) annual meeting in San Francisco, CA.

AURA recognition requires campuses to have depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of innovation of a sustained nature. Nominations are open to all types of higher education institutions. Three awards were made this year to recognize outstanding institutions from different Carnegie classification groups.

“Diversity, interdisciplinarity, and close attention to program assessment are some of the hallmarks of this year’s AURA class,” said CUR’s Executive Officer Elizabeth Ambos and President Susan Larson. “CUR is proud to honor these academic institutions that have embraced and excelled in promoting and expanding undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry on their campuses.”

Furman University has built a research-supportive environment in a liberal arts and sciences setting that is well-funded, integrates research into the curriculum, and provides students with a broad range of dissemination opportunities. The university’s model summer research program has grown beyond the sciences to encompass a broader reach, engaging half of faculty, and weaving student internships into student research opportunities. Furman’s rich history of summer research growth and development, combined with student and faculty reflection and assessment of learning, make the university’s undergraduate research program a national model for other baccalaureate institutions to emulate.

"Furman University has a long history of providing extensive research opportunities for its undergraduate students, allowing them to work closely with professors to fully explore their passions and interests beyond the classroom," said Furman President Elizabeth Davis. "We are dedicated to this type of student engagement, and that is why we are so honored and proud to receive this recognition from an organization that has done so much to support undergraduate research at colleges and universities across the nation."

Creative Inquiry at Clemson University is the imaginative combination of engaged learning, cross-disciplinary interaction and undergraduate research that is unique to Clemson University. Team-based investigations are led by faculty members and typically span a year or more. Students take on problems that spring from their own curiosity, from a professor’s challenge or from the pressing needs of the world around them. A national model for research-intensive universities, Clemson’s Creative Inquiry Program deeply integrates research into the curriculum, spans disparate disciplines, involves a large segment of the student body, and facilitates early and sustained involvement in research.

“All of us at Clemson are extremely proud of the Creative Inquiry program and the way it has come to exemplify the university’s commitment to undergraduate research,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements. "This unique and invaluable experience produces exceptional graduates while helping solve real world problems, and we are honored by the recognition the Council on Undergraduate Research has given to our work in this vitally important area.”

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) demonstrates several decades of campus resource commitment to support undergraduate research among a diverse student population. The institution seeks to continually improve its undergraduate research activities through careful assessment of positive impacts on student and institutional success, and broadening the global contexts for student inquiries. UWEC’s Undergraduate Research and International Fellows Programs are models for master’s-level institutions interested in expanding and internationalizing undergraduate research activities.

Chancellor James Schmidt of UWEC stated: “We are honored to receive this distinguished award from the Council on Undergraduate Research, which further establishes our national standing as a premier institution for undergraduate research. This significant achievement validates decades of commitment from faculty, staff, administrators and students, who have all understood the far-reaching benefits of these experiences for our students, campus and community— benefits that now include real global impact.”

These three institutions portray exceptional models for other campuses to emulate. CUR is proud to celebrate their commitment to excellence in the undergraduate research enterprise.

The Council on Undergraduate Research: The Council on Undergraduate Research ( supports faculty and student development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, scholarship, and creative activities. More than 700 institutions and over 10,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.

Furman University is a private, undergraduate liberal arts university of 2,700 students in Greenville, S.C. The university is noted for its rigorous academic program and strong faculty, and its 750-acre campus is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful in the nation. The university recently unveiled "The Furman Advantage," a strategic vision that combines a liberal arts and sciences education with immersive experiences outside the classroom, creating a personalized pathway that prepares students for lives of purpose, successful careers, and community benefit.

Clemson University is a major, land-grant, science- and engineering-oriented research university in South Carolina that maintains a strong commitment to teaching and student success. Ranked #23 among national public universities, Clemson is an inclusive, student-centered community characterized by high academic standards, a culture of collaboration, school spirit, and a competitive drive to excel.

UW-Eau Claire is a mid-sized public university with an undergraduate enrollment of 9,894. The U.S. News & World Report "Best Colleges 2017" guidebook ranks UW-Eau Claire No. 5 among the top regional public universities in the Midwest. Nationally recognized for high-impact, experiential learning programs, including collaborative student-faculty research, study abroad and service-learning, the university also ranks in the 2017 Top 100 Best Value Colleges. UW-Eau Claire students continually earn top honors, including two Rhodes Scholarships, multiple Truman and Goldwater Scholars, and Fulbright Scholars at numbers among the highest of any master’s- level schools in the country.


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