R1 Commission

R1 Commission Overview

In December 2020, Chancellor Gaber established the R1 Commission, a committee of faculty and administrators charged with assessing UNC Charlotte’s potential to advance to “R1 status” according to the Carnegie Classification system. Currently, 131 US doctoral-granting universities are classified as “very high research activity” (R1) and only three North Carolina universities - Duke, NC State, and UNC-Chapel Hill - are members of this group. UNC Charlotte is one of six Carnegie R2, or high research activity institutions in the state, along with East Carolina, NC A&T, UNC Greensboro, UNC Wilmington, and Wake Forest. More information on the Carnegie Classification system is available here

Recognition as an R1 institution will benefit UNC Charlotte and the region by raising the university’s profile and national and international reputation and placing us among the nation’s top research universities. Achieving R1 status will stimulate economic development and industry growth, boost state and national investments in campus research and facilities, and enhance the recruitment and retention of outstanding and successful faculty and students. 

The R1 Commission’s charge includes:

(1)    Reviewing the Carnegie Classification methodology, conducting a comprehensive "gap analysis" to determine where we might be lagging in our pursuit of R1 status, and recommending strategies aimed at boosting research activity metrics. 

(2)    Identifying core areas of research and scholarship excellence and distinction that represent existing and emerging institutional strengths.

Areas of Research and Scholarship Excellence

Click here to view nominations for Areas of Research and Scholarship Excellence.

UNC Charlotte has no shortage of celebrated disciplinary research, scholarship, and creativity programs that have already achieved or have potential to achieve national prominence, and no group is better positioned than the faculty to help identify the areas where existing strengths align with great societal need. As a result, the Commission sought help with goal #2 – identifying areas of scholarly research and creativity where collaborative networks of UNC Charlotte faculty currently excel or are poised to take a leadership position nationally and internationally.

These areas of excellence and distinction will contribute to the current campus-wide strategic planning effort by serving as the foundation upon which future strategic investments will build. They will also serve as foci for future institutional investments and research development support, including new tenure-track and research faculty hires, endowed professorships, graduate (especially doctoral-level) programs, core facilities, large-scale proposal development and planning, seed grant programs, honorific awards and recognitions, targeted proposals, and equipment and infrastructure investments. 

We are particularly interested in identifying (1) broad, thematic areas where the university has already achieved a national level of distinction; and (2) areas where continued work, future investments, and new resources will significantly advance our research reputation, raise the profile of our research and scholarly programs, and accelerate our movement to R1. The Commission is also interested in using this process to identify collaborations at the intersections of existing areas of strength that tackle some of society’s most complex and urgent societal challenges that often transcend traditional departmental or disciplinary boundaries.

Recognizing the diversity in research activity across the University and that excellence may come from any disciplinary field, including those not normally associated with sponsored research funding, the Commission has adopted a “bottom-up” approach that encourages nominations from self-selecting, self-organizing teams of faculty. Submitters are encouraged to consult with their department and college leadership to help identify others with related expertise that could make meaningful contributions to potential areas. 

Self-nominations were solicited from diverse teams or clusters of campus researchers that include both established leaders and rising stars in three broad categories:
  • Areas of Existing and Emerging Excellence: Broad areas of outstanding research and scholarship that include existing signature programs of disciplinary and interdisciplinary strengths and new, emerging clusters of research-productive faculty.

  • Areas of Unique Distinction: Small teams of collaborating faculty that have achieved an international prominence in an area or field of study.

  • Areas of Future Opportunity and Investment: New or emerging research areas, often linked to national, regional or statewide priorities, where UNC Charlotte is well-positioned to excel.

Eighty-two nominations to the following call were received from across campus. 

Call for Nominations 

*** The deadline for this call has passed.

All application materials must be compiled in the order listed below and submitted as a single pdf file. Late and incomplete submissions will not be accepted.

What to Include in the Nomination Materials?

The nomination packet should include the following (All sections should be single spaced, 12-pt font, 1-inch margins. Page limits will be strictly enforced. Submissions that exceed the page limits or fail to meet the requirements outlined below will be returned without review.): 

  1. Cover Page (1 page): Include the title of the area, a list of participating disciplines/academic units/departments, and the names of up to three individuals responsible for leading and organizing the collaborative cluster or research area. Individuals may participate in more than one nomination, but can only serve as the lead or co-lead of one submission.  Indicate the target category for the submission (i.e., Existing and Emerging Excellence, Unique Distinction, Future Opportunity and Investment). List up to five keywords. 

  2. Executive Summary (1 page): Provide a short synopsis of the core/thematic area and a brief summary of the evidence supporting its nomination as an existing or future area of excellence/unique distinction. The summary should be written for a general, non-technical audience.

  3. Evidence of Strength and Excellence (2 pages): Describe the strengths of the collaboration(s), explaining how the area can achieve excellence and national prominence, or has already done so. Provide evidence of the success and collective impact of the group, including joint publications, major awards and honors, recent (past 5 years) funding success, citation impact, media attention/reach, engagement with external entities (local/regional communities, NGOs, industry, national labs, etc.) and the broader impacts of the research outcomes.  Be sure to describe both the strength of the individuals as well as the cohesion of the group and its success as a collaborative team (e.g., joint publications and proposals). Describe how additional resources might be used to build or expand upon past success. Indicate the specific synergies of the team that enable them to have great impact. Highlight the group's contribution to student education and research training, especially of doctoral students.

  4. Alignment with Regional and National Priorities (1 page): Describe how the area aligns with regional, national and international priorities and supports the mission of the university. Provide supporting evidence, including references to publications and policy documents issued by state and federal agencies (e.g., National Science Foundation Big Ideas, NIH Strategic Research Priorities, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Institute for Education Sciences, and National Endowment for the Humanities Strategic Plan) and/or national organizations and professional societies.

  5. Supporting Documents: Names and titles (in tabular form), and a short description of the contribution or expertise of each member.  Provide a two-page c.v. of participating and contributing faculty members. The list should be limited to UNC Charlotte affiliated faculty and researchers of all ranks. 

How Will the Finalists Be Selected?

Nominations will undergo a two-phase review that will include 1) an evaluation by members of the Commission, and 2) feedback from a panel of external, peer reviewers. An interdisciplinary group of Commission members will evaluate and score the applications using the review criteria. These scores will be used to select a subset of applications that will be further evaluated by the external panel.  

What are the Review Criteria?

Nominations will be evaluated using the following criteria (Note: criteria are in no particular order and may not apply equally to all submissions or categories):

To what extent does the proposed area or associated team:

  • Represent or enhance an existing or emerging area of excellence at UNC Charlotte? 

  • Align with regional, state, and national priorities? 

  • Address one or more complex and key questions facing society, and have the potential for transformative impact? 

  • Have demonstrated the ability to engage and positively impact a diversity of local, regional and external entities and organizations (e.g., local/regional communities, NGOs, industries, federal and state agencies and laboratories) 

  • Explore creative and original concepts?

  • Have a demonstrated track record of collaboration and/or teamwork (e.g., co-publications, co-supervised students, collaborative grants, etc.)?  

  • Promote new partnerships among university researchers? 

  • Include a diverse group of researchers representing a range of disciplines and utilizing a diverse set of research methodologies?

  • Have the potential to attract new and/or significant extramural funding?

  • Support student research, particularly doctoral and postdoctoral scholar training?

  • Support economic development through commercialization (academic start-ups, externally-formed entrepreneurial entities, IP licenses, patents) and industry partnerships?

Who to Contact?

Questions regarding this call for nominations should be directed to R1Commission@uncc.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions