Tech’s admission into the Association of American Universities signifies the great progress the Institute has made. Tech’s push to broaden the academic offerings paired with a clear focus on the importance of research in education, no doubt helped trigger the move to include Tech in this elite group. Tech must continue to harness this momentum and not rest on the laurels of this honor.
Being invited to be a member of this influential organization should also open up many avenues for Tech in the future. With the AAU acting as a clearinghouse of academic information, Tech students and faculty now have an easier way to share ideas with other top academics and researchers across the nation. A freer flow of ideas in and out of Tech should also help to grow our intellectual community.
This membership will give Tech a stronger voice on the national stage. One of the major purposes of the AAU is lobby on behalf of academia. Tech’s already prestigious and successful federally funded research programs now have a strong ally when issues arise between the Institute and the government. The AAU influence within industry will also pay dividends to Tech, through notoriety on a more national stage with major corporations.
But AAU membership also gives Tech the opportunity to more fully contribute to conversations about the problems facing universities and the nation as a whole. The Tech community must use this opportunity to express ideas on some of the major issues Tech is tackling, such as sustainability and intellectual property as well as student’s rights and the decreasing affordability of education. Tech must utilize all potential benefits from this new-found relationship to improve, including marketing the honor when recruiting prospective students and faculty. After all, Tech is the only public university in the state that is a member of this prominent organization.