On August 10, 2006, the UT System Board of Regents approved 22 capital projects ($1.53 billion) that would bolster the UT System's science, technology, engineering and health infrastructure. Those projects, in addition to 22 others approved since August 2005, and along with special funding for faculty recruitment programs, brought the UT System's total investment to $2.56 billion. With additional investments since then, the UT System has committed $3 billion to boost competitiveness in key scientific areas.
The National Academies groundbreaking 2006 report: Rising Above the Gathering Storm (RAGS) noted global competition for economic leadership is deeply rooted in science, technology and health. In order to maintain a U.S. competitive advantage and invigorate the U.S. economy, the RAGS report offered four critical elements that require strategic investments: education, research and technology development, competitive capacity and incentives. The UT System Board of Regents demonstrated innovative vision and strong leadership in August 2006 by providing vital resources in each of these four areas. The result is an unprecedented transformation of UT System institutions that positions them to recruit the world’s finest faculty to educate our children, and prepare those students to be future scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and healthcare providers.
A short video message from Norm Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp. and chairman of the National Academies committee that authored Rising Above the Gathering Storm, on the key role higher education must play if the U.S. is to remain a global leader in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine.
Renovations and new construction of state-of-the-art buildings create educational and research possibilities that drive the competitiveness initiative. Investing in next-generation research facilities enables the UT System to bring the nation’s best minds to Texas and also provides an economic stimulus to the entire state. According to The Legislative Study Group, a Texas public policy caucus, investment in research and development yields a 20 to 30 percent rate of return to the state in terms of jobs and additional state revenues. As university research often attracts new companies and industries to an area, exceptional faculty and research staff can play a critical role in generating new ideas and harnessing them to create new companies and products that increase Texas’ success in the world economy. Construction or renovations projects approved under the UT System Competitiveness Initiative will increase total space at the UT System by more than 5.9 million square feet, including 40 percent more research space, 11 percent more teaching space, and more than four times the clinical space in 2005.
The UT System’s Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STARs) Program is increasing the research capacity at UT institutions by attracting some of the nation’s best minds. With faculty recruitments that include a Nobel Prize recipient and four members of the National Academies, the program is poised for continued success. To date, the UT System Board of Regents has allocated $124 million in STARs funds, with 71 percent allocated for use by academic institutions and 29 percent to health institutions. The STARs funds are administered by the Offices of Academic and Health Affairs and are often matched by institutional funds and private donations. The Office of Academic Affairs estimates that 50 faculty members who received competitive STARs awards in FY 2005 and 2006 have brought more than $198 million in research grants to the UT System over the past three years.
Texas has looked to the UT System for leadership since 1876, when the Texas Constitution assigned it with the great responsibility to be a university of the first class. Now, 130 years later, being of the first class means having the ability to reach throughout the state to provide a university education for our future workforce and citizens, to compete globally in research and healthcare, and to draw talent to Texas. We are in the midst of unprecedented advances in math, science, engineering and technology. Through a comprehensive and collaborative effort that fuels research and development across the 15 UT institutions, we will continue to attract and retain exceptional faculty to teach our students and put Texas at the epicenter of new business opportunities that will help ensure a vibrant and prosperous future for our state and nation.
Funding for the UT System Competitive Initiative is proof of a true public/private partnership that reflects the shared commitment of government, industry, donors and the UT System institutions. Sources for the total $2.56 billion initiative includes state and federal appropriations, tuition revenue bonds, institution funds, Permanent University Fund allocations, and private funds or gifts from business, industry, foundations and individuals.
The UT System is committed to measuring, analyzing, and evaluating the progress and impact of this initiative. Many areas of impact for this initiative (student education and success, faculty, research and technology transfer, and space use efficiency and effectiveness) are already measured and tracked through perennial reports such as the UT System Accountability Report and Facts and Trends publication, in addition to regular scheduled special reports to the Board on topics such as STARs and facilities.
However, a biennial report and progress update to the Board by the chancellor on measures specific to this investment and tied together in the context of the goals of this initiative is critical to evaluating the success of this initiative. The first such report to the Board was made by Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa on July 8, 2009.
Find out more about the original announcement of the initiative.