The online magazine of the University of Texas System
Four UT System Institutions Aim for Tier One Status
Why does Texas need more Tier One universities?
Helping additional Texas universities achieve positions as research universities is not only good for higher education, but it will also be a major economic stimulus for the state and contribute to the quality of life for all our citizens. A recently released economic impact study on the value of having more Tier One Texas universities found that if four of the seven candidates can achieve top-tier status by 2035, 1.2 million new high-paying jobs and $20 billion in state and local taxes could be generated. We currently have three Tier One universities to serve a population of more than 24 million. This is fewer than California, New York and Pennsylvania and the same number as Virginia, which has a population one third the size of Texas. Tier One universities can help our state compete for research dollars as well as the most talented students, researchers and faculty members.
What is an "emerging research institution?"
That designation is determined by a number of factors; The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board identifies emerging research universities as high-profile educational, scientific, engineering, business and cultural resource centers committed to the three-fold mission of teaching, research and service. These universities encourage faculty members to be active researchers in their respective disciplines and to involve both undergraduate and graduate students in research and creative pursuits. They offer a wide range of baccalaureate and master's programs, serve a student population from within and outside the region and are committed to graduate education through the doctorate degree in targeted areas of excellence. Seven Texas institutions meet the standards of emerging research universities: The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas and Texas Tech University.
How do the Texas Research Incentive Program and the UT System Research Incentive Program assist universities to enhance their research capacity?
These matching funds for gifts can go to many elements critical for a Tier One university such as: merit-based undergraduate student scholarships; graduate student fellowships; recruitment of top faculty, professors or chairs; funding for research programs, infrastructure and research equipment; and funding for pipeline programs for at-risk students and critical fields. All seven emerging research universities are eligible to benefit from the TRIP. The recently announced UT System Research Incentive Program gives us an exceptional opportunity to build on state support by providing matching funds for gifts to UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso and UT San Antonio dedicated toward expanding research productivity and faculty recruitment.
How does an emerging research university become Tier One?
Universities must be nationally competitive in the quality of their faculty, academic programs and students, as measured by faculty awards, program rankings, number of degrees awarded, student learning and freshman profile. They must also produce nationally competitive research and scholarship, which is measured by the amount of research dollars their researchers bring in and the impact their scholarship has on new discoveries. Finally, they must prove they have the support base necessary to sustain their competitiveness, which is measured by the size of their endowment and alumni giving. National organizations use these objective measures to group universities in categories, and advancing to the top category takes improvement on all of these fronts. While the road to the top tier won't be easy for these institutions, the benefits these campuses will create for future generations of Texans will be immeasurable.
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