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CSB and SJU celebrated for winning prestigious national award for undergraduate research achievements

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University were among the winners of the 2023 Council on Undergraduate Research Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA) celebrated in a virtual ceremony held last month.

This national award recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates. The University of Florida and Worchester Polytechnic Institute were the other 2023 award winners.

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.

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. The 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.