Legislature’s Joint Resolution commends UMaine’s R1 designation – G. Jacobson

Legislature’s Joint Resolution commends UMaine’s R1 designation

In a Joint Resolution March 9, the Maine State Legislature recognized the University of Maine for its national designation as a Carnegie R1 research university. The resolution commended the university “on its well-deserved designation and the groundbreaking achievements and commitment to excellence by the faculty, scientists, students and staff.”

UMaine is the only university in Maine designated as an R1 doctoral research university in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The designation provides Maine with national recognition for having a top-tier research university, impacting recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students, and UMaine’s ability to attract and retain top faculty. The R1 Carnegie Classification, which only 3.7% of the degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S. have, also can improve Maine’s competitiveness for federal and corporate partnerships, and lead to more patents, startups and opportunities to attract research-focused businesses to Maine.

Among those in Augusta for the reading of the resolution and congratulations were UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy; former UMaine professor George Jacobson, a member of the “Faculty Five” that helped advocate for state research and development funding, leading to the passage of the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF); Maine State Chamber of Commerce President and UMaine alumnus Dana Connors; and James Donnelly, vice chair of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees who who helped create MEIF when he served in the Legislature.

“State investment and the leadership of UMaine faculty helped bring an R1 top-tier research university designation to Maine,” said Ferrini-Mundy. “We are incredibly grateful for the support our research enterprise receives from the Legislature and federal delegation, and are especially appreciative of the vision of elected leaders 25 years ago when they created the Maine Economic Improvement Fund to support Maine-focused research.”

“The achievement of Carnegie R1 status is an immense accomplishment for the University of Maine and for the state of Maine, which is already benefiting from innovative ideas and technologies that will be the basis of a productive and creative economy. We should view the R1 designation with pride, but it’s also a new and exciting chapter, I believe, in Maine history,” noted Sen. Rick Bennett, who helped create MEIF established by the Maine Legislature in 1997 and launched what is now a quarter-century of public university research and development investment.

The Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Research and Development, created by a Joint Order of the Maine Legislature, was directed to develop and recommend a plan for the support of applied research and development in five technologies identified as having growth potential in the state’s Science and Technology Action Plan: aquaculture and marine sciences and technology; biotechnology; composite materials engineering; environmental sciences and technology; and information sciences and technology.

Today, MEIF has a more than five-to-one return on investment for the state.

MEIF was an investment that “put us on a path to be home to discoveries and advancements for years to come,” said Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy on the House floor. Today, she said, the R1 designation is “a huge milestone for our state.”

“This designation is a signal that this is a place where serious, groundbreaking study happens and it will become a magnet for additional resources to test our new ideas,” said Dunphy. “Perhaps most importantly, this designation will allow the University of Maine students and staff — our constituents — to stand on the cutting-edge of new realms of discovery and innovation at a time when we sorely need those talents to address the challenges that face us today. Our local businesses, farms, entrepreneurs and anyone who wonders where their aspirations can take them have just got a tremendous resource and a partner.”

The Joint Resolution noted that UMaine, “already a vital state economic and educational asset, has greatly increased its research and innovation reputation, becoming a premier location for research and development that attracts highly talented experts, creates new research opportunities and drives further innovations.” In the past five years, research and development expenditures at UMaine have grown 80.2% to an all-time high of $179,300,000 for 2021 and external funding in support of research and development has increased to $133,600,000.

UMaine is now one of only 146 of the 3,982 degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S. classified as top-tier doctoral research universities.

“We, the Members of the One Hundred and Thirtieth Legislature now assembled in the Second Regular Session, on behalf of the people we represent, take this opportunity to recognize the University of Maine on its designation as a national R1 research university and commend the university on its well-deserved designation and the groundbreaking achievements and commitment to excellence by the faculty, scientists, students and staff,” the resolution noted.