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University of Calgary files

Feb. 14, 2022

What it means to be a Top 5 research university

Message to the campus community from President McCauley

Dear colleagues, students, and community members,

On Jan. 25, 2022, the University of Calgary was named a top-five Canadian research institution for the first time. It was a proud day for our university that was the result of 10 years of remarkable growth, fuelled by the collective dedication of our campus community. These numbers — fifth-highest-ranked institution in the country, based on $457 million in sponsored research funding — were hard earned.

It would be easy to look at this achievement and focus solely on capital-R “research”. But what we know at UCalgary — and what the rest of the numbers show — is that we didn’t choose research over student experience or impact. To choose research is to choose all three.

Research enhances student experience through hands-on learning and access to world-leading scholars. UCalgary is ranked above average in seven of 10 metrics of undergraduate student engagement in comparison to the other top- five institutions (National Survey of Student Engagement 2020). Our students are learning collaboratively and effectively, having meaningful interactions with faculty and fellow students, and find our campus to be a positive and supportive environment. Our emphasis on research leads to those rich student experiences.

Impact is making a difference in the communities we serve. When there are challenges, UCalgary researchers step up to help solve them. We measure our impact not in research dollars, but in lives changed, partnerships forged, innovations made and communities strengthened. We are a champion for community-engaged research, and the number one startup creator among Canadian research universities. Every faculty has success stories to share.

We are delivering on the promise of our Academic and Research Plans, placing student experience and impact at the core of our activities. Our Framework for Growth will accelerate this momentum. We will mobilize talent across the university through transdisciplinary scholarship, make a greater impact through our community partnerships, and empower our students through future-focused programs. We will weave Indigenous reconciliation and equity, diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our institution, to ensure that our campus is a welcoming place for everyone to flourish.

The “we” behind this work is all of us. I’m grateful for the commitment of our campus community which has fuelled all this progress. You make up a dedicated, accomplished community of leaders, and I am proud to be a part of it.

In 2011, we created Eyes High and set our sights on being recognized as one of Canada’s top-five research universities and a key contributor to communities near and far. It’s not an achievement that is meant to be checked off and forgotten: it’s a vision that we work to embody every day. This top-five recognition is tremendous and an important step on our Eyes High journey – and we’re going to use it as motivation to keep striving for more. Our future is bright, and we’re just getting started.

Dr. Edward McCauley, PhD, FRSC
President and Vice-Chancellor
University of Calgary