University of Miami joins elite group of North America's top research institutions.

The University of Miami joined an invitation-only group of North America’s elite research universities on Thursday, accomplishing a decade-old goal and receiving one of the most prestigious honors in higher education. The Association of American Universities invited UM this year to become a member following a unanimous vote by the association’s member institutions, a select group that includes Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale, and top state universities, such as the University of Florida. Five other universities, including the University of South Florida, also joined the AAU as new members.

The recognition boosts UM’s reputation worldwide, and could attract more staff, faculty and students to the university. “This should be a point of pride not only for the university, but for our entire city and region. It is a sign of Miami’s growing preeminence,” said University of Miami President Julio Frenk in an interview. AAU membership will also allow UM to network with other top leaders in meetings and working groups.

Frenk said he looks forward to improving UM by talking to his counterparts about how to tackle challenges like increasing student access, dealing with the student debt crisis and enhancing research. Through those discussions, the institutions can also take action together to fix the problems, he said. Universities can’t apply to enter the AAU. Instead, current members judge prospective ones on set criteria, like the quality of education programs and the amount of competitive research financing, as well as faculty publications, awards and memberships in the national academies.

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