What is a Flagship University?

Tuesday, February 21 2012


MOSCOW, Idaho – "Flagship university" is used to refer to the first established public research university in a given state. A state’s flagship university is typically research-intensive, grants doctoral degrees, and competes in NCAA Division I athletics. In his speech "The Future of Flagship Universities" in 1998, former University of California, Berkeley chancellor Robert M. Berdahl said of flagship universities, “The term applies, in all the cases I can think of, to the fully mature public universities serving most of states.”

Berdahl listed the following three attributes of flagship universities:

“These institutions formed the core of the public systems of higher education in their respective states.”
  • The University of Idaho was established to serve the entire state under the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act.
  • The University of Idaho has 70 locations across Idaho.
  • The University of Idaho reaches over 400,000 people a year through its offices in 42 of Idaho’s counties.
  • 80 percent of freshmen stay for their sophomore year -- the highest percentage of any public institution in the state.
  • University of Idaho students graduate at nearly twice the rate of any other Idaho public institution.
  • The University of Idaho contributes to our state through research that ranges from agricultural to water, climate and natural resources management.
  • Newsweek magazine ranks the University of Idaho as the third most affordable university in the nation in its "Best Colleges 2012."
“In most cases, these institutions were the first public universities to be established in their states.”
  • While Idaho was still a Territory, the 1889 Territorial Legislature established the University of Idaho.
  • When Idaho became a State, the University of Idaho was written into the original Idaho Constitution.

“They became the centers for research and graduate education and they developed an array of professional schools that added to their size, scope, and preeminence.”
  • The economic impact of the University of Idaho on our state totals nearly $1 billion dollars annually.
  • 74 percent of all research funding to Idaho institutions is received by the University of Idaho.
  • During fiscal year 2009 the University of Idaho spent $88,242,000 on research and development — four times more than Idaho State University's $20,524,000, and nearly eight times more than Boise State University's $11,955,000.
  • Last year the University of Idaho reported to the National Science Foundation research receipts and expenditures of almost $100 million.
  • The Northwest’s #1 destination for new National Merit Scholars this year is the University of Idaho.
  • The University of Idaho is #1 in Idaho for total National Merit Scholars – more than all other Idaho institutions combined.
  • The University of Idaho produces more than half of all the STEM bachelor’s degrees in the state.
  • The University of Idaho ranks third among flagship institutions nationwide for enrolling low-income students.
  • National Jurist magazine ranked our accredited College of Law as 13th in the nation for clinical opportunities among 200 American Bar Association-approved law schools. By comparison, Harvard ranked 20th. 
  • Washington Monthly magazine's College Guide ranks the University of Idaho in the top 100 universities for social mobility, research and service.
  • Forbes Magazine ranks the University of Idaho in the top 20 percent of all undergraduate institutions in the nation in its issue of "America's Top Colleges" for 2012.

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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.