The online magazine of the University of Texas System
Four UT System Institutions Aim for Tier One Status
Though it's hard to measure the tremendous impact The University of Texas at Austin has had on the lives of generations of students, a 2005 study by its own Bureau of Business Research estimated UT Austinís impact on the stateís economy at $7.4 billion annually. One of only three nationally recognized — or Tier One — research universities in Texas, UT Austin generates research funding of more than $520 million each year — funding that leads to breakthroughs in science, engineering, technology and health care, products that create new businesses and new jobs, and educational opportunities for students that are unsurpassed. Those opportunities stand to be enhanced in coming years as 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 and three additional emerging research universities in Texas reach for Tier One status.
To be clear, there is no one specific definition for what makes an institution Tier One; the term refers to high-performing, nationally competitive research universities with more than $100 million in annual research expenditures. But itís not just research dollars these universities are after. Economists estimate that every $10 million in annual research spending by a university creates about 334 jobs and adds roughly $8.6 million in wages to the regional economy.
"Tier One institutions are centers of excellence," says UT System Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David B. Prior. "They attract researchers and educators who are leaders in their fields. Not only do they create outstanding learning opportunities for postdoctoral, graduate and undergraduate students, but they will likewise improve the quality of life for all our citizens."
Crucial to educating a highly skilled workforce, particularly in the professional fields or the sciences and engineering, Tier One institutions create a wide range of job opportunities for Texas communities at large. Alumni from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, have founded more than 4,000 companies that employ approximately 1.1 million people and generate $232 billion in sales, an amount roughly equal to the economic output of Houston or the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex.
Each year, Texas sees an exodus of more than 10,000 high school graduates who attend doctorate-granting universities in other states, while recruiting only about 4,000 per year from other states. This brain drain — a net loss of nearly 6,000 highly qualified students per year — has increased 54 percent in the last six years. Creating additional Tier One universities in Texas will ensure our best and brightest students have access to world-class educational opportunities here at home and exceptional business opportunities once they graduate.
This past spring, the 81st Texas Legislature established a framework and funding sources to give seven emerging research institutions in Texas the opportunity to advance toward the goal of becoming nationally recognized centers of research excellence — or Tier One institutions.
With the creation of the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), the state made $50 million in matching grants available for gifts given to institutions after September 1, 2009. The matching funds available through TRIP provide the seven emerging research universities opportunities to establish more endowed faculty positions and graduate fellowships, enhance research facilities and programs, and bolster their research capacity.
In addition, the UT System Board of Regents recently announced the creation of a $10 million Research Incentive Program that will provide one–time matching funds to help UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso and UT San Antonio leverage private gifts dedicated toward expanding research productivity and faculty recruitment.
While the UT System is committed to advancing the strength of UT Austin as a premier institution and research powerhouse, advancing UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, and UT San Antonio to the top tier will create remarkable opportunities for Texas students to enhance their skills in state–of–the–art facilities, to learn from faculty members who are leaders in their fields and to take themselves and Texas to new heights.
— Karen Davidson
Four UT institutions are on the path to becoming Tier One universities.
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