Tier 1 university money

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Amid a torrent of grim news for higher education during the past legislative session, state lawmakers affirmed their commitment to creating more tier one research universities in Texas.

The Texas Research Initiative Program, created in 2009, seeks to encourage private donations to certain “emerging research universities” — the University of North Texas, the University of Houston, Texas Tech, UT-Dallas, UT-San Antonio, UT-El Paso and UT-Arlington — across the state by matching private donations to research programs with state money. The Legislature allocates money to the fund, which is then used to match qualifying donations. To date, the state has matched almost $50 million.

Texas Tech and UT-Dallas have received the most from the fund, and the University of Houston has not been far behind, according to The Texas Tribune.

State lawmakers rightly kept this fund solvent during the recent budget debate. Original budget drafts did not refill the fund, but the final version allocated almost $34 million to new donations made from 2012-13. Only three Texas universities, UT, Rice and Texas A&M, are recognized as tier one research campuses today. California boasts 12 such universities.

The Texas Research Initiative Program has been successful in promoting a public-private partnership to build Texas’ national research presence. The money used from the fund will help these emerging universities build their research operations, stimulate the Texas economy and prepare more Texans for the future.