October 2009

Proposition 4: The next potential step on the path to Tier One

On November 3, Proposition 4 comes before Texas voters. This measure, if passed, establishes the Texas National Research University Fund (NRUF).

The Texas NRUF would be dedicated to making support available to the state’s seven emerging research universities: Texas Tech University, University of Houston, University of North Texas, UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, and UT San Antonio. These universities are poised to join Texas A&M, Rice, and UT Austin as top tier research institutions. If these universities succeed in ascending to the top rank, they will help Texas compete for federal research dollars as well as the most talented students, researchers and faculty and will help produce better-educated citizens.

And, what can Texas and Dallas-area residents expect if Proposition 4 is approved?

What can Texans expect from Prop. 4? More economic activity—and no new taxes.
  • An acceleration of the development of the emerging research universities, which include UT Dallas, UT Arlington and UNT.
  • Creation of high-paying jobs and new high-tech industries.
  • Re-purposing of an existing/dormant state higher education fund to generate greater economic activity—no new money needed, and no new taxes associated with this fund.
  • Better higher education opportunities for all our citizens.

A report published early this month by The Perryman Group says the addition of two Tier One universities by 2035 could create potential gains in Texas’ incremental business activity of $161.1 billion in total spending each year, $81.8 billion in annual output, and 344,393 permanent jobs for Texas. Annual fiscal revenue to the state would expand $4.2 billion with local taxing authorities seeing benefits of about $1.3 billion per annum. Under this scenario, the report says, the state would gain $17.25 for every $1 committed to these two hypothetical Tier One universities’ support.

Research would be the first aspect of these universities to benefit from this new resource, but in the long run, academic programs, student success and the value of degrees from these universities will be enhanced.

UT Dallas’ ongoing quest to reach Tier One—underway long before the proposition was placed on the ballot—has attracted extraordinary faculty from outstanding institutions such as Rutgers, Illinois, Columbia and others. Students benefit from studying with such excellent faculty. And it’s not all about science. Great national research universities draw the best in every field—artists, musicians, historians, writers—and become arts and culture hubs in their communities, as we mean to be.

The Texas Legislature paved the way for this development by placing Prop. 4 on the November 3 ballot, when it passed the Tier One Law last spring. If approved by voters, the creation of the NRUF will—within several years—provide millions of dollars per year to better support these universities. Early voting began October 19th.

About This Newsletter

The President’s Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, President of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the university.