Newswise — The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) will present its 2017 Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment (AURA) to Denison University, Hope College, and Florida Atlantic University. This annual award recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates. Now in its third year, the award draws from CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which presents criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity programs. The 2017 awardees will be honored at the Council on Undergraduate Research Executive Board reception on January 26, 2018, at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC.

For AURA recognition, campuses must have depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation. All types of higher education institutions can be nominated for the AURA awards. The three 2017 awardees reflect different Carnegie classifications.

“Active outreach to underrepresented students, integration of research into the curriculum, and sustainability are some of the hallmarks of the 2017 AURA recipients,” said CUR’s Executive Officer Elizabeth L. Ambos and President Anne Boettcher. “CUR is proud to recognize these academic institutions that have diligently pursued excellence in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry on their campuses.”

Denison University’s achievements in undergraduate research are substantial. The university’s exemplary program features a strategic commitment to creating a sustainable funding model for faculty-student summer research through the Summer Scholars program endowment. The impressive growth and breadth of this program offer a national model for other baccalaureate institutions to emulate.

“Denison is very proud of this recognition of our achievements in student research,” said Denison University President Adam Weinberg. “We believe that excellence in academics starts in the classroom, then continues beyond it with amazing opportunities for student research. Each summer, more than 100 Denison students are working under the guidance of our faculty to conduct research. These projects give students an opportunity to explore issues they care about, to develop strong research and other academic skills, and to receive fantastic mentorship from our faculty. These projects prepare students for top graduate schools, postgraduate fellowships, and jobs.” 

Hope College’s historical and broad commitment to creating a research-supportive environment for faculty and students encompasses a broad array of initiatives such as FACES (a program to encourage early and sustained research involvement by underrepresented groups) and Day1 (a program that reaches out to a large cohort of students with immediate research involvement at the beginning of their college careers). These types of student research community programs offer distinct possibilities for adaptation by other baccalaureate institutions.

“Hope’s commitment to deepening student learning through participation in research began in the middle of the last century, and our program has grown in size and scope ever since,” said the Rev. Dr. Dennis N. Voskuil, president of Hope College. “We have been buoyed throughout that time by the positive effect that it has clearly had on our students. It is a tremendous honor to have the work of so many past and present affirmed by CUR and presented as a model example of best practice in undergraduate education.”

Florida Atlantic University’s strong growth in undergraduate research involvement sets it apart from many higher education institutions. Its Distinction through Discovery program is a thoughtful and intentional approach to the integration of research into the curriculum, and its practical and actionable plan of assessment of the impact of its undergraduate research programming provides a model for doctoral institutions.

“We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to undergraduate research,” FAU President John Kelly said. “Our Distinction through Discovery Quality Enhancement Plan focuses on expanding the culture of research into the undergraduate classes and is a key element of our accreditation and strategic plan. Through this plan we work not only to teach important facts but also the importance of inquiry and critical thinking, skills that will benefit the student for the rest of their lives.”

These three institutions present outstanding models for emulation on other campuses. CUR is proud to celebrate their commitment to excellence in the undergraduate research enterprise.


Council on Undergraduate Research: The Council on Undergraduate Research supports faculty and student development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, scholarship, and creative activities. More than 700 institutions and more than 13,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that the best way to capture student interest and create enthusiasm for a discipline is through research in close collaboration with faculty members.

Denison University’s place at the forefront of higher education is recognized by “Colleges That Change Lives,” U.S. News, and Forbes, among others. Denison is a leading national college of liberal arts and sciences where students from around the world come to pursue academic inquiry and research, to analyze and solve problems, and to forge the skills needed to succeed. On a beautiful, fully residential campus, located minutes from Forbes-rated #1 Opportunity City, Columbus, Ohio, students build enduring relationships and pathways to the professions, supported by faculty mentorship in classrooms, laboratories, and studios; through a wealth of career-launch programs and internships; and in partnership with a thriving, far-reaching alumni network.

Hope College in Holland, Michigan, has involved students in original research for more than seven decades as a means of promoting student learning, developing professional skills, and creating new knowledge. Over the past two decades, Hope has broadened research opportunities beyond the traditional faculty-mentored project model to include living-learning communities such as the Phelps Scholars Program and FACES (Fostering a Community of Excellence in Science), which promote diversity and retention through research. Most recently, Hope introduced its Day1 program, which annually involves 120 students in research starting their first day on campus.

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the university, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, and lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship.