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March 22, 2007

Report ranks Pitt in top tier of public research universities

Pitt ranks in the top tier of U.S. public research universities, according to “The Top American Research Universities,” the recently issued 2006 annual report of the Center for Measuring University Performance.

The report places Pitt in the top tier with six other public research universities, which it lists alphabetically: the University of California-Berkeley; the University of California-Los Angeles; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

For its annual report, the center clusters research universities by assessing their performance objectively on nine different measures: total research expenditures, federal research expenditures, endowment assets, annual giving, National Academy members, faculty awards, doctorates granted, postdoctoral appointees and median SAT scores.

Tables in the annual report group research institutions according to the number of times they rank among the top 25 universities in these nine categories. The uppermost tier comprises those universities that rank in the top 25 in all nine categories.

The introduction to the report notes that “those with the highest performance are successful in almost everything they do. … we collect data on nine measures, and the best universities excel on all nine.”

In commenting on Pitt’s performance in the 2006 report, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg stated: “Since it first was released in 2000, we have considered the center’s study to provide the most meaningful independent assessment of overall university strength.”

In the center’s inaugural 2000 study, Pitt was in the fourth cluster of public universities ranking among the top 25 public universities in six of nine categories.

As was explained in the introduction to that first study, although the center evaluates public and private universities in the same way, it also presents their performance separately “because the public and private research universities operate in significantly different contexts by virtue of their governance and funding structures.

“Private universities tend to have much larger endowments than public universities, while public institutions enjoy a much higher level of tax-based public support. Public universities tend to serve much more diverse constituencies in ways that affect their size and organization.”

In January, the Center for Measuring University Performance moved from the University of Florida, where it had been founded, to Arizona State University. The report is done in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The report can be accessed online at

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