The Council on Undergraduate Research Recognizes Campuses with Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research

Newswise — Washington, D.C.—The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) is pleased to announce Allegheny College, George Mason University, and The College of New Jersey have been named the recipients of the Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment (AURA). This annual award recognizes institutions that have devised exemplary programs providing high-quality research experiences to undergraduates, and attracted close to 50 applicants in its inaugural 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. The awardees will be honored during the Council on Undergraduate Research Executive Board reception on January 22, 2016, at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

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.

“Excellence in undergraduate research programming is found in all types of institutions,” said CUR’s Executive Officer Elizabeth Ambos and President Roger Rowlett.“CUR is proud to honor these national leaders who have thoroughly connected research to the undergraduate education process.”

Allegheny College’s well-designed and developmentally appropriate undergraduate research experience is supported by deliberate scaffolding beginning during a student's first year, continuing throughout the sophomore and junior years, and culminating in a required capstone research project. This holistic and sustained student development approach prepares Allegheny students for both graduate study and post-baccalaureate employment. In addition, the adoption of revised research criteria for tenure and promotion and the active engagement of faculty in publishing undergraduate research establish Allegheny College as a leading Baccalaureate College.

“It is a great honor to have been selected by the Council on Undergraduate Research, one of the leading organizations in higher education, to receive an inaugural 2015 Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments,” said James H. Mullen Jr., President of Allegheny College. “The award is a valued acknowledgment of the robust programs for undergraduate research that our faculty have built with such care and that our students embrace with such enthusiasm.”

George Mason University (Mason) , the largest public research university in Virginia, stands-out as a Research University due to Mason's Students as Scholars program. At the core of Mason’s mission is its signature learning experience, which encourages students to incorporate research into their studies. From pioneering virologists to prize-winning economists, students work alongside researchers at the top of their game. The continued attention Mason has paid to developing program goals, assessable student learning outcomes, and rubrics for evaluating Students as Scholars is exceptional.

“We encourage our students to pursue research because it is one of the most effective and transformative learning experiences they can have,” said Ángel Cabrera, George Mason President. “This is true whether or not a student decides to pursue a research career, and that is the greatest value a research university can offer a student.”

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) exemplifies the teacher-scholar model at a Master’s Level institution. The quality and quantity of undergraduate research achievements are admirable as is TCNJ’s commitment to hiring and supporting faculty engaged in mentoring student scholarship. The ongoing commitment from TCNJ’s administration and faculty to reconceptualize and redesign the curriculum and the integration of undergraduate research into faculty reappointment, tenure and promotion documents are highly effective and commendable.

"The College of New Jersey is honored to be recognized by CUR as a national exemplar in undergraduate research," said TCNJ President R. Barbara Gitenstein. “Over the last two decades, we have been committed to making student-faculty engagement and research central to our undergraduate experience. Our success, as reflected in this award, is a testament to the collective effort at TCNJ to integrate high-impact learning practices into the fabric of the institution with faculty who are recognized as teacher-scholars."

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


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.

Allegheny College: Allegheny College is a national liberal arts college where 2,100 students with unusual combinations of interests and talents develop highly valued abilities to explore critical issues from multiple perspectives. A selective residential college in Meadville, Pa., Allegheny is one of 40 colleges featured in “Colleges That Change Lives,” among many other guidebooks. Allegheny, which is celebrating its bicentennial in 2015, is known for academic excellence and its extensive research and creative opportunities for students, as well as for taking a national leadership role on civility in public discourse and on sustainability, among other critical issues of our time.

George Mason University: George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 33,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity, and commitment to accessibility. Media contact: Michele McDonald,, 703-993-8781.

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): TCNJ is a highly selective institution that has earned national recognition for its commitment to excellence. Founded in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, TCNJ has become an exemplar of the best in public higher education and is consistently acknowledged as one of the top comprehensive colleges in the nation. TCNJ currently is ranked as one of the 75 “Most Competitive” schools in the nation by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and is rated the No. 1 public institution in the northern region of the country by U.S. News & World Report.

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