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Academics Campus & Community

Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s earn prestigious national award for undergraduate research achievements

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University have been honored with a prestigious 2023 Council on Undergraduate Research Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA).

This national award recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates. A celebration of these awardees will take place virtually on June 11.

The University of Florida and Worchester Polytechnic Institute also received 2023 awards.

Now in its ninth year, the AURA award draws on CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR), which outlines criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity programs. For AURA recognition, campuses must demonstrate depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation. Institutions of different Carnegie classifications are considered for the award.

“The 2023 AURA recipients reflect achievements as leaders in undergraduate research that set their institutions apart,” said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer. “Each awardee has demonstrated a diverse portfolio of undergraduate research programs, building a culture around undergraduate research in their overall curriculums that increases engagement and practice, and investing in student-faculty recognition. These institutions exemplified steadfast commitment, no matter their size.”

Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s embrace an academically rigorous collaboration between two of the nation’s highest-rated liberal arts schools. CSB and SJU launched the Emerging Scholars Program with the mission of making undergraduate research accessible to students from all backgrounds and abilities.

This program caters to first-year students who have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education or their field of study. Students selected for the program are offered a full-time, paid on-campus research position for an academic year under the mentorship of a faculty mentor. According to CSB and SJU data, 100% of the first cohort of students in the program graduated on time.

Although CSB and SJU have a young and growing program, almost 30% of all students are engaged in undergraduate research, and approximately 40% of faculty regularly serve as mentors. Even without the resources of most AURA-receiving schools, CSB and SJU have built an enviable suite of programs that demonstrate how innovation driven by a clear vision can yield exceptional outcomes. 

“It is truly the highest honor for the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University to be named a 2023 AURA Awardee, as this award helps us amplify (a) story on a national level that we have known for quite some time at our institutions: that we are wholeheartedly a community that celebrates and invests in scholarship and creative work opportunities for our students, faculty and staff,” said Lindsey Gunnerson Gutsch, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholars at CSB and SJU.

“Since the introduction of CSC Day in 2001, you’ve seen foundational pieces of our undergraduate research program be introduced and become part of our campus culture and traditions. Since 2017, institutional investments in staffing and resources have been made to build on that strong foundation and elevate undergraduate research into a signature experience, ensuring that any student could become a part of our scholarly community – which you can see from the fact that nearly one in three of our students are doing research or creative work every year.

“I am particularly grateful that the Emerging Scholars Program, an initiative designed by myself, Dr. Kate Bohn-Gettler and Dr. Mary Stenson, has been uplifted as an exemplary research program in the United States. Thank you to the faculty mentors and students who have been part of our cohorts. Recognition from the Council of Undergraduate Research that CSB and SJU embodies so many of CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research is invaluable.

“I hope that receiving this award says to our current students and faculty in our scholarly community that we immensely value the work you do,” Gunnerson Gutsch continued. “I hope this award says to future students that if you want opportunities to ask and investigate your biggest questions, if you want to challenge yourself to be innovative and creative, if you want a faculty mentor and a community that will coach you and be by your side in the lab or in the studio, CSB and SJU and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholars has a place for you. This is where you go in Minnesota for a scholarly and community-centered experience.”

CSB and SJU Academic Dean Dr. Karyl Daughters added, “We are thrilled by this recognition of the outstanding undergraduate research achievements on our campuses. This honor sheds light on the diverse opportunities offered at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, inspiring more students to participate in enriching research experiences.”

Experience Hub is a central space in Clemens Library where students can discover the full range of experiential opportunities available at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s.

Celebrating Scholarship and Creativity Day.

Inaugural Emerging Scholars Program Cohort in 2019.

A group of faculty, students, officials and alumni attended the 2023 Innovations Scholars Program research event.