TU changes mission statement, places emphasis on research in pursuit of R2 Carnegie Classification

By: Caitlyn Freeman, Editor in Chief

Towson University has changed its mission statement to expand degree offerings and move towards being a more research-focused university, the university announced Friday.

The new mission statement emphasizes research, which allows TU to grant doctoral degrees, a report from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents states. 

“As we continue our mission to achieve designation as an institution with high research activity, it is important to reflect on the evolution of TU as an anchor institution for Maryland,” President Kim Schatzel said in a letter announcing the change. “Our role as a research university with public impact is just the latest phase in that progression.”

The new mission statement aligns with TU’s aspiration to receive an R2-Doctoral Carnegie Classification. An R2 classification means the university would become a research institution due to high research activity.

To achieve and maintain the classification, TU must award 20 research doctorate degrees and spend $5 million annually on research. 

Sidd Kaza, associate provost for research and dean of graduate studies, said an R2 classification would allow TU to expand its existing research efforts. He said the current goal is to achieve the classification by 2024. 

“[The classification] allows us to do better what we do already,” Kaza said.

According to TU’s campus master plan, TU currently spends $3.5 million annually on research and offers three doctoral programs. The goal is to increase the number of doctoral degrees awarded annually to 30-40. 

TU is a liberal arts college and has been since 1963, according to the TU Special Collections and University Archives. A liberal arts college focuses on humanities, and social sciences, a U.S. News and World Report article states. 

While the R2 classification would make TU a research institution, Kaza said the university’s core values would remain. 

“Our roots will be the same,” Kaza said. “Our mission will be the same.”

In terms of how the path to R2 classification connects with the future of TU’s infrastructure, Kaza said while the new College of Health Professions and Science Complex buildings weren’t built with the intention of reaching an R2 classification, they will aid in the process. He said the buildings provide more infrastructure for research to occur. 

Additionally, in an interview with The Towerlight, Schatzel said the classification is a natural next step in the university’s progression, especially since the USM updated its strategic plan to emphasize expanding research. 

“We thought ‘it’s time for us to do it,’ particularly when you’re considering that we’re the second largest university in the state,” Schatzel said. “So to have this capacity and this talent on the campus and not directed specifically was something that we thought was a goal that we should just aim at.” 

Josue Morales, a senior computer science major, said he supports TU’s desire to become an R2 institution. He added that as a research assistant in the CHP, he’s been able to expand what he learns within his major and apply it in the real world. 

“I think it’d be awesome if Towson was the spotlight for some new research being uncovered,” Morales said. “I think that would bring in a lot of funding and make people that are looking […] to go to college be more excited about going to Towson.”

The classifications were developed by Carnegie Commission on Higher Education in the early 1970s, according to its website.   

Currently, within the USM, the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, have R1 classifications, meaning the universities see very high research activity. UMBC achieved the status in February 2022.

The University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, a fellow USM institution, currently holds an R2 classification. Outside of the USM, Morgan State University has been an R2 institution since 2019.  


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