May 23, 2019  

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Southern Miss Retains Carnegie Rating as Higher Research University

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Despite trends that show many colleges and universities losing traction in the highly competitive battleground for research funding, The University of Southern Mississippi has maintained its position in the latest ratings from the prestigious Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

On Feb. 1, the Carnegie ClassificationTM 2015 update was announced, showing Southern Miss among 78 institutions whose position did not change from the previous classification released in 2010. The Carnegie system classifies institutions in three distinctive categories: Highest Research, Higher Research, and Moderate Research. Southern Miss is rated as a Higher Research university, which is based on number of doctorates conferred, research and development expenditures, and number of faculty and research staff.

“The Carnegie Classification system allows for the grouping of institutions into various types, for purposes of sampling and discussion. It’s also a useful tool for identifying our peer institutions,” said Dr. Gordon Cannon, vice president for Research at Southern Miss. “Retaining our status in the Carnegie rankings is further evidence of the tireless work being done by our faculty in securing this important research funding.”

External funding for research and sponsored programs at The University of Southern Mississippi totaled $72,976,047 for fiscal year 2015 – a 24.1 percent increase from the previous year.

Primary funding for FY 2015, which covers the time period of July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015, came from federal agencies (64 percent). Business and industry awarded the next largest percentage (25 percent). For FY 2014, Southern Miss received $58,790,269 in research and other sponsored program funding.

The Carnegie ClassificationTM has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four and a half decades. Starting in 1970, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education developed a classification of colleges and universities to support its program of research and policy analysis.

Derived from empirical data on colleges and universities, the Carnegie Classification was originally published in 1973, and subsequently updated in 1976, 1987, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015 to reflect changes among colleges and universities. This framework has been widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences, and also in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students, or faculty.

“The Carnegie Classification system can provide useful information to potential students and their families as they make the important decisions about which institution of higher learning is best for their particular needs,” said Cannon. “It can also be an important economic development tool to attract quality graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and research staff members.”

The breakdown for doctoral-granting research institutions classified by the Carnegie system is as follows:

  • Highest research activity: 115
  • Higher research activity: 107
  • Moderate research activity: 113

Southern Miss saw a 38 percent rise in funding from business and industry between FY 2014 and FY 2015. Of the total grants and awards received in FY 2015, almost $18.5 million was funded by business and industry.

A significant portion of those awards were presented as part of the BP oil spill settlement to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. USM’s reputation as a leader in coastal/marine sciences research enabled the University to compete for and receive $16,636,829 in research funds from BP Oil.

USM also received a $3,149,300 increase in awards from the National Science Foundation (22 percent of the total difference in FY 2014 and FY 2015 funding). The NSF funding includes a $2.8 million interdisciplinary project to train next-generation scientists with experimental, theoretical, and computational competencies for complex interfaces.

Another major award in FY 2015 was delivered to an interdisciplinary Southern Miss team of researchers by the U.S. Department of Defense. The $3.4 million research grant will be used to develop and evaluate helmets with pneumatic cushioning as a means to improve protection to warfighters.

To learn more about Carnegie’s Classification system, visit: