Level one money to be won in a college competition

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The first results of the final leg of a key fundraising race for Texas universities in research level one the status is in – and the University of Texas at Dallas is in the lead. But there is still more than $ 1.2 million to be won for this biennium.

In 2009, lawmakers approved a bill by the State Rep. Dan branch, R-Dallas, establishing an ambitious agenda to enable seven ’emerging research universities’ ( Texas University of Technology, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, and the University of Texas campuses at Dallas, Arlington, San Antonio and El Paso) to compete for additional cash injections, with the goal of increasing the number of state-owned national research universities in Texas (currently the state can only claim the University of Texas and Texas A&M University).

Part of that bill created the Texas Research Incentive Program, which uses a limited pool of public funds to match large private donations intended to stimulate research at eligible institutions. Gifts over $ 100,000 receive 50% government matching, gifts over $ 1 million receive 75% matching, and $ 2 million or more are matched 100%. It was an instant success, and the $ 47.5 million in public funds available in the first biennium were almost instantly used up.

The big winners of this round were Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Dallas, which raised nearly $ 21 million and $ 15 million, respectively. The University of Houston, which has since received the level one designation from tThe Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching – drew disappointing figures totaling less than $ 5 million.

As the last legislative session approached, many feared that budget cuts could lead to a void in the fund. But lawmakers managed to put more than $ 34 million back into the distributable fund in the 2012-13 biennium that has just started. Much of the money that will be distributed in the first year, fiscal year 2012, is made up of the remaining amounts from the oversubscribed 2010-11 biennium. But Branch said the new giveaways, which will be the 2013 payments, have increased significantly since the end of the legislative session.

(Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Council)

Totals are subject to change as each university closely examines its competitors’ applications – a review process that officials from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the state agency that administers the fund, say could take two at three months. But according to preliminary results, UH appears to have been a game-changer and is forecasting a distribution of nearly $ 10 million in the next biennium. “They’re the most improved,” Branch said.

In an email, University of Houston President Renu Khator told the Tribune: “We couldn’t hope to maintain this level of support if we didn’t do our part to build one of the leading universities. public research projects of the country “. The UH should be the first university to access the National Research Universities Fund, a “cash prize” fund created by Branch’s original bill that rewards institutions that have met the state’s entry-level criteria.

“Our approach will not change,” Khator said. “We will continue to build on our momentum and strive for excellence in everything we do. “

UT-Dallas remains a leader on the fundraising front. It currently boasts the highest demand for matching funds with nearly $ 13 million over the next two fiscal years. “A lot of people think they have a bright future and [a] very positive trajectory, ”said Branch. “The market seems to indicate it as well. “

Requests for correspondence are still coming in and there is still approximately $ 1.2 million to be claimed. This means that there is still time for a school like the University of Texas at Arlington, currently on the verge of getting nothing from the state in fiscal 2013, to – as Branch puts it – “put in some points on the board ”.

Kristin Sullivan, spokesperson for UT-Arlington, told the Tribune that the school’s biggest private donations over the past year have come in areas other than research – instead going to initiatives like a 7,000 seat event venue – and thereafter were not eligible. for this specific fund. However, she noted that UT-Arlington’s research spending has more than tripled in the past six years and that the school “expects this trajectory to continue.”

Overall, Branch, the roughly $ 80 million invested in the state incentive fund yielded about $ 120 million in private donations – a combined total of $ 200 million for higher education. “We did better than a head-to-head match,” he said. “This is sort of the first wave of the fruits of this effort.”


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