USF World News

USF World is thrilled to share extraordinary news from the University of South Florida (USF)

AAU membership to bring extraordinary benefits to USF, Tampa Bay and state of Florida

University of South Florida joins the AAU superimposed on a green beackground over a photograph of a graduation ceremony

June 1, 2023 (Tampa, Florida) − USF recently received an invitation to join the Association of American Universities (AAU). Joining the AAU is a tremendous milestone as it formalizes USF's position as a leading research university. Founded in 1956, the university has rapidly evolved into a global powerhouse that transforms lives through education, research and innovation. USF, with campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, is the first public university in Florida to be invited to join the AAU in nearly 40 years and is now one of only two institutions from the State University System of Florida to serve as an AAU member.

Our path toward AAU began more than 15 years ago. Current President Rhea Law served as the chairwoman of the USF Board of Trustees in 2007 when USF formally announced AAU membership as an aspiration in its strategic plan. Achieving this lofty goal enhances funding opportunities for USF. Member universities receive the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for research. According to the AAU, faculty at member universities perform more than 60% of the total amount of federally funded basic research ($28.8 billion).

United States federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Defense rely on universities to perform critical research in the national interest. For USF, AAU membership means more opportunities to respond to society’s great challenges. USF is already among the most research-intensive universities in the nation and one of the world’s top universities for generating new U.S. patents.

As an AAU institution, USF is positioned to further enhance its role as a premier talent pipeline and engine of economic development. USF generates an annual economic impact of $6 billion, supporting more than 68,000 jobs. Companies from across the world are relocating to Tampa Bay ­– one of the nation’s fastest growing regions – and many credit the robust pool of talent created by USF as a primary reason for business growth. This trajectory will only continue as the best and brightest faculty, staff, and students are historically known to gravitate to AAU universities located in metropolitan areas.

AAU membership will make USF an even more attractive destination for high-achieving students from across the world. In the past year, USF received a record number of applications and welcomed its largest and strongest academic incoming class. USF is proud to be the #1 destination in Florida for international student enrollment and #13 in the nation, among public universities, for participation in study abroad. 

USF is also one of the youngest institutions to be welcomed into the AAU, a reflection of the university’s fast rise. It joins the ranks of prestigious universities, such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, Princeton, UCLA, Ohio State, and Michigan. Of the association’s now 71 members, USF is the fifth youngest and one of only six AAU universities to be founded after 1950. As another indicator of the university’s trajectory, USF is currently ranked in its highest position ever by U.S. News & World Report at No. 42 among all public universities. Over the past decade USF has jumped 52 spots and continues to have its sights set on becoming a top 25 public university in America.