Association of American Universities (AAU) Membership

Importance of AAU Membership

Membership in the AAU, a prestigious organization that includes the nation’s top research universities, provides KU with greater opportunities to receive federal funding for research that improves public health, addresses national challenges, and contributes to the nation’s economic strength.


KU’s mission is to, “Educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world.” In support of this mission, KU is committed to conducting broad and impactful research that addresses key challenges faced by our community, the state, the nation and the world. KU is a member of the AAU, which is a prestigious organization of the nation’s top research universities with leading research programs. As a member, we are recognized as one of the top research programs in the country, leading to federal funding for research that improves public health, addresses national challenges, and contributes to our nation’s economic strength. The AAU also lobbies in Washington DC for research and higher education funding and for policy and regulatory issues affecting research universities.

AAU membership is by invitation only, and the association ranks its members using a public set of criteria. These indicators, or metrics, are used by the AAU Membership Committee to evaluate current and potential members and are organized into Phase I and Phase II indicators. Phase I indicators receive priority consideration when determining membership and are quantitative. Most of the Phase II indicators are quantitative, but a few are more qualitative. All quantitative indicators are considered in their raw and normalized forms. The normalization factor (i.e. denominator) is tenure/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty counts. Normalization is performed to account for the wide range of research institution size amongst the membership.

The AAU membership indicators are listed below. Many of these indicators are included as outcome metrics for Jayhawks Rising. Units should consider the applicability of these indicators to their units and develop unit-level strategies to improve the metrics. As with any metric, there are multiple ways of improving performance. For example, given AAU metrics are normalized on T/TT faculty counts, indicators may be improved by either increasing the numerator (such as the total amount of federal R&D expenditures) or by reducing the denominator (such as reducing T/TT faculty counts through non-replacement of open lines when student enrollment is low in a unit). There is some indication that the Phase I indicators are listed in order of importance for membership consideration.

  1. Competitive federal research & development expenditures (excluding USDA)
  2. Membership in selected congressionally chartered National Academies (Science, Engineering, Medicine)
  3. Prestigious and highly-prestigious faculty awards, fellowships, and memberships as defined by the National Research Council received annually
  4. Citation count attributed to current KU faculty
  1. USDA, state, and industrial research & development expenditures
  2. Number of research/scholarship Ph.D.’s granted annually
  3. Number of health science, physical science, and engineering postdoctoral appointees
  4. Undergraduate program assessment (purely qualitative at this time)