April 29, 2022

34 Exceptional Teacher-Scholar Researchers to be Recognized in New Facility Amid Estimated $6 Million Rise in Sponsored Research Funding & New R2 Research Reclassification

research infoWest Chester University will recognize and award the accomplishments of 34 exceptional teacher-scholar researchers whose leadership, curiosity and expertise have enabled the University to usher in a new era of research, while remaining committed to the priority of teaching. At a time when the University’s sponsored research funding is on the rise with the accumulation of an estimated $6 million by June 30, 2022, the University has most recently been reclassified as an R2 Doctoral University – High Research Activity (R2) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. West Chester University will shine a formal Spotlight on Faculty Research and the research projects of 34 outstanding faculty on Friday, April 29, 4-6:30 p.m. in the University’s new Sciences and Engineering Center & The Commons, 155 University Avenue in West Chester. Small-group preview tours of the new 175,000 square-ft. facility, now the largest building in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, will be held prior to the award ceremony from 3-4 pm. The formal celebration is being coordinated by the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs.

Deputy Provost and Vice President for Academic Operations Jeffery Osgood will present each of the 34 faculty awardees with a special teacher-scholar award of excellence. Videos showcasing faculty researchers and their award-winning projects will also be featured during the program. Nine students will be recognized as 2022 Student Research & Creative activity awardees as well.

In addition to celebrating the research efforts of its faculty and students, the University will publicly celebrate its reclassification from Master's Colleges & Universities – Larger Programs (M1) to Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity (R2). The University’s new 2021 classification took place during Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education’s most recent three-year cycle of evaluation, which was posted for a public-review period in December of 2021. Carnegie’s last update occurred in 2018. According to the classification, R2 universities have “high research activity” in academic settings where teaching is the priority. In an R2 university, most courses are taught by professors who are involved in research activities and often include students in their research work.

To be considered an R2 university, a university or college must have awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees and must have had at least $5 million in total research expenditures as reported through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research & Development Survey (HERD). As such, the University’s reclassification to an R2 university is based on research and development expenditures and the number of doctoral students it graduates. 

“The hallmark of our faculty is their emphasis on the teacher-scholar model,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Laurie Bernotsky. “Research performed by our faculty enhances their teaching to students as well as their own teaching excellence. The addition of our doctoral programs, which have been added within the last decade, is all due to our faculty. Our R2 distinction is an unintended good outcome and comes without tinkering with our mission.”

Most of the University’s external funding continues to be for programs that support undergraduate student services and training – a reflection of the commitment of University faculty, staff, and administrators to improving student success.

A steady increase in graduate student enrollment between fiscal years 2010-2020 has been enhanced by the University’s addition of doctoral programs in the fields of clinical psychology (Psy.D.), education policy planning and administration (Ed.D.), nursing practice (D.N.P.), and public administration (D.P.A.).

In FY 2020, the update year, WCU graduated 24 Ed.D. and D.P.A. students combined and invested $6.41 million in research and development as defined by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research & Development Survey (HERD) survey. The University investment in research has been greater than $5 million since FY 2015, so the new Carnegie Classification is really a reflection of the fact that WCU’s professional practice doctoral programs are beginning to graduate students in higher numbers.

“Even with these exciting changes, one thing will never change: the centrality of teaching to the mission of our University. But even then, know that faculty scholarship and program growth continue to have the support of our educational community,” stated a joint email to the University community from West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino, Executive Vice President and Provost Laurie Bernotsky, and Deputy Provost and Vice President for Academic Operations Jeffery Osgood. “We are especially proud of the hard work of our faculty in producing research, engaging students in that research, and creating new critical-need graduate programs. The work that is performed on our campus is indeed truly inspiring.”

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