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BU joins likes of MIT in American Associations of Universities

Boston University joined the American Association of Universities, an invitation-only society of institutions, on Monday, AAU officials said.

“[BU] joined last week after the membership vote took place,” said AAU spokesman Barry Toiv. “The membership is effective Nov. 5.”

BU President Robert Brown accepted an invitation to join the association by AAU President Hunter Rawlings III, according to an AAU press release Monday.

“Boston University is an outstanding institution that belongs in AAU by virtue of the strength of its research and academic programs,” Rawlings said in the release.

AAU was founded in 1900 to promote and develop research universities, according to the organization’s website. Including BU, there are 60 universities in the U.S. in the AAU and two in Canada.

“The [membership] meeting took place Oct. 21 to [Oct.] 23, and the vote took place during and after the meeting, giving time for all the university presidents to cast their votes,” Toiv said.

BU is the fourth Boston-area college to join the AAU, behind Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University, according to the AAU website.

BU was chosen after a process of reviews by the AAU membership committee, Toiv said. The membership committee periodically reviews a number of research universities that could be eligible for membership and, after the reviews, makes a recommendation.

AAU universities in the U.S. award more than one-half of all doctoral degrees in the country, according to the release.

A three-fourths majority of current members must vote to invite a university to join the AAU, the release stated. Schools are judged based on quality of research, graduate education and commitment to undergraduate development.

“Undergraduate education is also looked at to make sure there’s a strong commitment to undergraduate education, but generally, research and graduate education and various indicators of quality in those areas are looked at,” Toiv said.

Toiv said AAU membership is considered a standard for leading research universities in North America.

“The association is a strong advocate for research universities,” he said.  “Presidents meet twice a year, and other constituencies meet during the year to discuss common interests and concerns, problems and solutions, and many universities consider that to be a great resource and benefit.”

Toiv said being asked to join is an advantage for universities.

“Work[ing] with those peer institutions to strengthen their own ability to advocate, strengthen their own ability to think about issues, to confront problems … are reasons that universities are happy to be asked to join,” he said.

Rawlings said in the release BU is a good fit for the AAU.

“AAU universities play an essential role in America’s research enterprise and in educating the nation’s young scientists, engineers and scholars,” he said. “Boston University is a welcome addition to the ranks of these leading research universities.”

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