GW Joins Prestigious Association of American Universities

The university’s membership in the AAU recognizes its leading research, education and innovation.

June 1, 2023

GW Research image

Joining the top tier of preeminent universities in North America, the George Washington University on Thursday became one of just 71 institutions to receive membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU).

Founded in 1900, the AAU comprises America’s premier research universities working to address challenging problems through research while educating and training the next generation of leaders. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only.

“We are honored by this acknowledgment of excellence by America’s leading research universities,” said President Mark S. Wrighton. “The George Washington University has a long and distinguished history of academic leadership at the nexus of research, scholarship, policy and service, and the vital distinction of membership in the AAU reflects GW’s rapidly growing impact locally, nationally and globally. We are proud to join the AAU in the shared mission of advancing research and scholarship that addresses the world’s most urgent and vexing challenges.”

AAU member universities are invited after a review of “quantitative indicators” assessing breadth and quality of research and education. The universities “earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research that improves public health, seeks to address national challenges and contributes significantly to our economic strength, while educating and training tomorrow’s visionary leaders and innovators,” according to the AAU.

AAU member institutions are also leading voices that shape policy in higher education, science and innovation; set the standard for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education; and have a positive impact on society.

“GW is a university on the rise, and the invitation to join the AAU is a testament to the accomplishments of an ambitious community that strives for academic excellence and advances the university in its prominence and impact every day,” said GW President-elect Ellen Granberg, noting that she looks forward to the ways AAU membership will help the university elevate this impact in its third century.

Membership in the AAU signals that GW has significant achievements in research. In addition, being invited to join the AAU recognizes the positive trajectory of GW.  Accelerating the progress of the research enterprise will be important in building the quality and impact of the university. Initiatives like the Global Food Institute, renewed efforts on sustainability and strengthening biomedical research will contribute to the advancement of GW.

“AAU membership is an incredible achievement, and it is validation of the strength and influence of our university’s research and education,” said Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights, J.D. ’82. “As chair of the board and as an alumna, I am very proud of our university and community.”

Five other universities also joined the AAU on Thursday: Arizona State University; the University of California, Riverside; the University of Miami; the University of Notre Dame; and the University of South Florida.

“We look forward to working with all of these universities to continue advancing higher education and laying the scientific foundation that helps keep our economy strong and our nation healthy and safe,” said AAU President Barbara R. Snyder.

AAU Board Chair and University of Southern California President Carol L. Folt said AAU institutions are “distinguished by the quality of their education and research” and congratulated the universities’ students, faculty and staff for the hard work required for AAU membership.