Rice University President David Leebron was elected by the Association of American Universities to serve as chair of its board of directors at their semiannual membership meeting last month.

AAU, made up of 60 American and two Canadian universities, aims to advance university research and to maintain effective collaboration between research universities and the U.S. government. Leebron will serve a one-year term as chair.

“Rice’s membership reflects our recognition as one of the leading research universities in the United States,” Leebron said. “This [position] is a great opportunity for me to work with the AAU’s outstanding president, Mary Sue Coleman, who was formerly the president of the University of Michigan, to advocate for support of research universities and for recognition of what they have collectively contributed to the success of the American economy.”

Leebron said he sees this role as illustrative of both Rice’s performance as a research university and its reputation among other AAU members.

“Rice’s membership, and my election as chair, reflect both the very high achievement of Rice as a research university, and the high esteem in which it is held by other members of the AAU,” Leebron said. “Despite our small size — Rice is the third smallest member of the AAU — we have achieved research prominence and excellence well beyond that size.”

Rice’s place in AAU and Leebron’s new position as chair benefit Rice in multiple ways, Leebron said.

“It will be of benefit to Rice both in terms of the additional recognition and visibility Rice receives as a result of its president being chair of the AAU, but also because I will be able to utilize all that I learn as chair in working to further enhance Rice’s success as a pre-eminent research university,” Leebron said.