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Tier One Legislation Outlines Course of Action for Texas Tech

New legislation provides opportunity and challenges for Texas Tech to rise to the next level of national prominence.

Written by Sally Logue Post

Texas Tech on course to achieve Tier One status.

Texas Tech on course to achieve Tier One status.

The Texas Legislature has set in place a framework and funding sources for Texas Tech University and six other institutions to earn the designation of national research university.

No one university has a better chance of achieving the designation than the others. Rather the Tier One legislation sets criteria and leaves it to the seven emerging research universities to meet the standards.

“The bottom line is institutional performance,” said President Guy Bailey. “Every funding source has a measurement attached to it. If the university meets the requirements, it earns the funding and the National Research University or Tier One designation. The legislature created a pathway for us to follow. Now it’s up to the university and its supporters to do the things that will sustain and grow our research over the long term.”

The Tier One legislation, authored by State Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, State Senators Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, Robert Duncan of Lubbock and Florence Shapiro of Plano, was approved May 31.

“Sen. Duncan had the vision and the plan to create a permanent funding mechanism for research at Texas Tech and the other emerging research universities,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “If it were not for Sen. Duncan, House Bill 51 would not have passed. We all owe him our thanks for getting this done.”

The most immediate impact of the legislation is the creation of the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP). It provides matching grants for private gifts given after Sept. 1. The gifts may go toward endowed chairs, professorships, facilities, equipment, program costs or graduate stipends or fellowships. Gifts for undergraduate scholarships or grants do not qualify. There is $50 million available for matching grants.

“This is a key way that our alumni and friends can help Texas Tech immediately,” said Bailey. “Gearing donations to these areas will help us immediately improve our research mission and contribute to our eventual designation as a national research university.”

A second piece of the legislation creates the National Research University Fund (NRUF). The future funding for this provision requires a vote in a statewide election in November.

If approved, NRUF repurposes what is now known as the Permanent HEF and creates a permanent endowment available to any newly created national research university. This fund is similar to the PUF, or Permanent University Fund, available to the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University.

“Voting for this constitutional change is another important way we need our alumni and friends to help Texas Tech,” said Bailey.

To become eligible for the NRUF, a university must meet specific criteria. First, a university must have designation as an emerging research university – which Texas Tech has received. Second, a university must have at least two years of annual restricted research expenditures of more than $45 million. Texas Tech currently has about $27 million per year.

Then a university must meet four of six criteria:

  • An endowment greater than $400 million; Texas Tech’s endowment currently stands at about $350 million
  • Doctoral degrees awarded must top 200 in each of the previous two years; Texas Tech awarded just less than 200 in each of the past two years
  • High achievement of the freshman class for two years, to be determined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB)
  • Membership in the Association of Research Libraries or housing a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; Texas Tech meets both requirements
  • High-quality faculty for two years, to be determined by THECB
  • High quality graduate-level programs, to be determined by the THECB

None of the seven institutions currently meets the eligibility requirements. The legislature will establish the distribution methodology during the 2011 session.

Also in the Tier One legislation is a change in the current Competitive Knowledge Fund, from which Texas Tech receives $5.8 million for the 2010-2011 biennium. The fund now will be called the Research University Development Fund. Under the new legislation the fund awards $1 million in general revenue for every $10 million in total research expenditures for institutions with more than $50 million in total research expenditures based on the average for the three most recent fiscal years.

The Tier One legislation also authorizes Performance Incentive Funding for all 35 general academic institutions. This money will be distributed based on the increase in the number of degrees awarded with additional weights for degrees awarded to at-risk students, and in critical fields such as math, engineering, computer science, physical science, teacher certification, nursing and allied health. There is $80 million to be distributed by THECB over the next two years for Performance Incentive Funding.

“Texas Tech is well positioned at this time, but we have a lot of work to do,” said Bailey. “We must bring in more research funding. We must persuade people to provide gifts to our university that we can leverage right away to take advantage of newly created state funding. We must work for passage of the NRUF amendment in November. There is no doubt in my mind that Texas Tech can and will meet the requirements to join UT, A&M and Rice as the state’s national research universities.”

The seven institutions designated as emerging research universities are: Texas Tech, University of Houston, University of North Texas, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at El Paso and University of Texas at San Antonio.

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How Do the Matching TRIP Funds Work?

The TRIP matching grants will be determined according to the following rates:

  • 50 percent of the amount of the gifts and endowments between $100,000 and $999,999
  • 75 percent of the amount of the gifts and endowments between $1 million and $1,999,999
  • Or 100 percent of the amount of the gifts and endowments between $2 million and $10 million.  Gifts larger than $10 million will be matched up to $10 million
How Does Texas Tech Stack Up To Other Universities?

For detailed graphs, click images to enlarge or download them.

Restricted Research Expenditures

Doctoral Degrees Awarded

Endowments

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Accountability System