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Texas Tech Makes Progress on Tier One Status

The university is on a quest to become one of the nation’s truly great public research institutions.

Written by Sally Logue Post

Bell Tower

Achieving Tier One status will put Texas Tech into an elite category of universities.

Texas Tech University is well on its way to becoming the state’s next National Research University.

Achieving National Research University, or Tier One, status will have a transformative affect on Texas Tech. It will put Texas Tech into an elite category of universities, providing our students with unmatched educational opportunities. It also will expand the scope of Texas Tech’s research to meet the world’s needs and give a significant boost to the local, regional and state economies.

The National Research University designation is only a first step in the strategic planning of the university. The ultimate goal is to become one of the nation’s truly great public research institutions, a university that conducts research that changes lives, that educates students who are globally competitive, and that drives the formation of new businesses.

“To reach Tier One status, we cannot take small steps forward, we must make a quantum leap,” said President Guy Bailey. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Texas Tech. Will we get to National Research University status? Yes we will, and faster than many may believe.”

Our Progress

In 2009 the Texas Legislature put in place the criteria that must be met to gain access to funding from the National Research University Fund (NRUF) – a Constitutional endowment.

The primary criterion is $45 million in restricted research expenditures over two years. Texas Tech reported more than $35 million in 2009, up from $27 million.

A university also must meet four of six other criteria:

  • An endowment greater than $400 million; Texas Tech’s endowment is projected to exceed $400 million in 2010
  • Doctoral degrees awarded must top 200 in each of the previous two years; Texas Tech awarded just fewer than 200 in each of the past two years
  • Membership in the Association of Research Libraries or housing a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; Texas Tech meets both requirements
  • High achievement of the freshman class for two years, to be determined by THECB
  • High-quality faculty for two years, to be determined by THECB
  • High-quality graduate programs, to be determined by the THECB

Track our progress or learn more at

Defining Tier One

While these are the state’s criteria for Texas Tech and the other six emerging research universities to receive NRUF funding, no formal definition of Tier One or National Research University exists, but these universities share common characteristics. National research universities have annual research expenditures of at least $100 million. They offer more than 50 doctoral degree programs and have more than 1,000 tenure track faculty. They also usually have large undergraduate populations and offer a wide-range of undergraduate degrees.

Texas Tech has research expenditures of more than $88 million last year. The university offers more than 50 doctoral degrees and has 1,013 tenured or tenure track faculty. The fall 2009 undergraduate enrollment included 24,236 students  pursuing bachelor’s degree in 150 programs ranging from art to zoology.

Professor with Students

Tier One universities attract businesses seeking partnerships with researchers and access to a skilled workforce.

Economic Impact

Attaining Tier One status will not only transform Texas Tech University, but it will create an economic boom for Lubbock, the region and the state.

Top research universities produce innovations and new technology that fuel business and create jobs. Companies want to locate in cities that offer the potential for partnerships with university researchers and access to a skilled workforce.

Once Texas Tech meets the state’s criteria are met for NRUF, it’s estimated that the university could receive up to $10 million per year in NRUF funding if it is one of the first institutions to fulfill the criteria.

This $10 million is expected to have a total economic impact of $19.8 million per year for Lubbock County. About 228 jobs would be created or sustained in Lubbock with an impact of $10.4 million on household earnings, translating into a potential for an extra $13.5 million in local sales revenue.

It’s long been recognized that Texas needs more National Research Universities. Currently only the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Rice University hold that classification. California, with nine Tier One institutions and New York, with seven, are far ahead of Texas. Pennsylvania, with a population of 12.5 million people, about half that of Texas, has four Tier One universities.

Texas has 8 percent of the U.S. population but only receives 5 percent of federal research and development (R&D) funding and 5 percent of the nation’s venture capital investment.  If Texas received just its population-based share (8 percent), that would mean an incremental $3.7 billion in R&D funding to the state.  Additionally, Texas is currently a net exporter of high school graduates who attend doctoral-granting universities in other states.  The state currently is experiencing a net loss or brain drain of nearly 6,000 highly qualified students per year and this number has increased by 54 percent in the last six years.  Texas must develop more National Research Universities to remain competitive.


Texas is currently a net exporter of high school graduates who attend doctoral-granting universities in other states. Texas must develop more National Research Universities to remain competitive.

What’s Next?

Texas Tech took a major step toward its goal last summer when it far surpassed its competitors in raising private funds to be matched by state dollars to help the emerging universities begin their efforts to reach Tier One. Texas Tech received private gifts totaling $24.3 million that will be matched by $21.5 million from the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP) over the next two years.

The university continues to focus on increasing its enrollment. Texas Tech established a doctoral fellowship program in fall 2009 and it has yielded an increase in the graduate enrollment. It is vital that the graduate programs grow, particularly at the doctoral level to ensure that there are qualified research assistants to work in the research laboratories as our research mission expands, and to ensure that there will be enough instructors to teach the ever-growing undergraduate population.

Once Texas Tech is designated a National Research University, the work will continue. Truly great research universities have at least $100 million in research expenditures, a goal that the university plans to reach soon.

When President Paul Whitfield Horn spoke to the first students at the then Texas Technological College, he told them that they were partners in a great adventure, participants in an opportunity that comes to people “but once in a lifetime.” The adventure then was creating a new college.

If only President Horn could see his university now. We have been given yet another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The challenge now is creating the state’s next National Research University. It will still take partnerships with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to achieve our goals.

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21 Responses to “Texas Tech Makes Progress on Tier One Status”

  1. jim barnes Says:

    what a crock!


    Now Mr. Barnes, on what rational basis can the effort by Texas Tech to achieve sucess and greatness be described by the crude and baseless description that you have used.

  3. Matt Heermans Says:

    Jim Barnes sounds like an aggie who is very upset about life and Texas Tech. Sounds great!

  4. Randy the Raider Says:

    I am proud of what we’re doing, but a lot of people are confusing “Tier One” status. Proposition 4 is a motion to create a top tier of funding (separate from the PUF) for emerging schools such as Texas Tech, UNT, UT-Dallas, Houston, UTEP, etc. I appreciate the state’s desire to hopefully attract public and private investigators through increased funing. This doesn’t make us a National Tier One University though. We’ have to leap from 200+ schools to sniff that.

  5. New Tech Mom Says:

    WHY is it a crock? It appears there are at least 6 other universities trying to reach the same goal. How do you think A&M became first tier? Same exact process… Good for you Tech!

  6. Matt Says:

    Very proud of my Alma Mater, GOTECH and thank you Mr Hance

  7. Billy Ray Valentine Says:

    Obviously, Mr. Barnes is not enrolled in one of Texas Tech’s 50 doctoral degree programs.

  8. George Waller Says:

    As a Red Raider who lives in College Station, I can attest to the impact the Tier 1 status has on the university, the community, and the student population. If you don’t believe me, read today’s Bryan/College Station Eagle newspaper to see the impact. GOTECH!!

  9. Jim Riggs Says:

    I was a faculty member at Tech for 25 years and developed strong feeling for the University. After Kent Hance and the Aggie appointed Board of Reagents destroyed a viable and popular football program because of their egos, I don’t have much hope that these same clowns are going to lead Tech to become a recognized leader in university research. Until administrators that put the University ahead of their self interests and meaningfully involve the faculty in the decision making process, Tech will have only marginal success because it will not be a place where successful faculty want to stay. Who thought that hiring a political hack llike Kent Hance was a good idea? Maybe an Aggie would.

  10. Dick McGlynn Says:

    Randy the Raider is right. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education dropped terms such as “National Research University” and “Tier 1″ years ago. I started as a faculty member at Texas Tech in 1969 and like many others worked every day to make the university as good as it could be. Neither Mr. Hance nor the Texas legislature invented the idea of moving Tech toward nationally recognized excellence. That has been going on since at least the presidency of Grover Murray. Even Paul Whitfield Horn wanted to create a college of “the first class.” I am amazed at what faculty and staff accomplished over the years in a severely underfunded university. Belatedly, a little extra funding might help make the job a bit easier. But the goals of the university have not changed and striving toward them will always depend on the work of those in the tenches.

  11. Forrest Bao Says:

    I think Tech should hire and pro the exact persons that can make Tech Tier-1, like productive professors, especially assistant professors, and productive graduate students.

    Many departments in Tech want to help achieve this goal by hiring big scientists, who cost a lot money to hire. This is an economically inefficient. Most assistant professors who are fresh PhDs, are very productive on research since they have the pressure to get tenured. And of course, they have more energy and new knowledge. Hiring them is cheap, in a startup salary, like $60,000 – $70,000 per year, times less than you hire a star scientist.

    Professors can not do research without smart grad students. I have to say that most Tech grad students are less productive than those at UT or A&M. Actually, it’s cheaper to improve this point. Just secure the financial support for students who can regularly publish papers on top international conferences or journals. May even give them bonus or fully cover their travels. I know a couple of good grad students who have left Tech because Tech couldn’t provide them financial support – we want them to write papers for UT or A&M?

    Compared with expecting a few big scientists to prompt the research at Tech, it’s more efficient to keep productive assistant professors and grad students here if we provider necessarily what they need, i.e., financial support. The worst case at Tech could be star scientists cost us a lot money to hire finally leave Tech – because they can’t get what they want.

    PS: Assistant professors and grad students are more loyal to the school where they firstly work or study. They are less possible to run away than star scientists – tons of schools out there can offer them more than Tech.

  12. Mike Says:

    I feel that TTU is a management university focused primarily on management studies within all departmental research initiatives excluding the phys. sciences like physics, chemistry, bio etc. These are pre professional departments and cannot achieve tier-1 status. ONLY professional departments achieve this status through funding and research. You dont have to be at 45 Mill. to get Tier-1. Thanks.

  13. Md. Rakib Uddin Says:

    We are all optimistic to see texas tech as a tier one university that will make better opportunities to bring changes to the society.

  14. Bob C. Says:

    If Texas Tech wants to compete for top shelf students inTexas and beyond it must aspire to achieve Tier One status. Everyone wins with this designation. Why should UT, A&M and Rice have all the fun!

  15. AR Finance Says:

    Hope that Texas fulfills the remaining 3 criteria and achieves the Tier one status.

  16. The Marketing Physiological and Neurological Imaging Laboratory (PANIL) « All Things CB Says:

    [...] donor.  The donation to the university was part of the efforts toward helping Texas Tech achieve Tier 1 status within the state.  The lab’s principal investigator is myself, Dr. Shannon [...]

  17. Nelson Rushton Says:

    What were Albert Einstein’s research expenditures in 1905 were about $10 for pencils and notebooks. He could have done that work at Texas Tech as it was when I joined the faculty here 10 years ago. He probably couldn’t have done it in the current environment.

  18. istanbul evden eve nakliyat Says:

    universities and institutions of a country is supposed to be the most outspoken

  19. vizyontech Says:

    WHY is it a crock? It appears there are at least 6 other universities trying to reach the same goal – See more at:

  20. sayfakutusu Says:

    I agree with billy

  21. dini islami kitaplar Says:


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