Using data envelopment analysis and Malmquist index decompositions this paper focuses on the impacts of the Great Recession on the efficiency and productivity changes of U.S. publicly funded prestigious research universities in comparison to their lower level comprehensive university counterparts. Do elite research relative to comprehensive universities have more political clout and resources to better ward off the financial impacts and production demands of the? Results, based on ten academic years from 2004-05 through 2013-14, are somewhat mixed, but indicate that research universities have a technological edge that acts as the primary advantage driver to total productivity gains over their counterparts. However, comprehensive universities outperform research universities in both managerial and scale gains. Overall, there is significant variability among both groups of universities in their adjustments to the dramatic recessionary forces imposed upon them. While the paper greatly improves upon three previous studies, there remains the question of how publicly funded and managed U.S. universities will continue future adjustments to the some of the lingering and more permanent effects of the recession.