July 2009

A Report on UT Dallas Outcomes from the 81st Legislative Session

Every two years when the Texas Legislature completes its work, we are reminded of how lucky we are to have the full faith and backing of the State of Texas. Legislatively appropriated funding comprises roughly a third of our annual budget. This funding undergirds UT Dallas, providing core support to pay the salaries of our faculty and operating costs of the institution. We are mindful that we owe our supporters — both our legislative representatives and the citizens they serve — excellent information with which to make decisions about funding requests, and excellent performance on the goals we set.

The support gathered for UT Dallas in the 81st session was exceptional. We are particularly grateful to a number of DFW legislators, including Sen. Florence Shapiro, Sen. Royce West and Sen. John Carona, Rep. Dan Branch, Rep. Jim Pitts, Rep. Angie Chen Button, Rep. Jerry Madden, Rep. Brian McCall and Rep. Helen Giddings, all of whom played important roles in advocacy for UT Dallas. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, and Sen. Robert Duncan also played key roles in advancing Tier One legislation. Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker of the House Joe Straus were also integral to the achievements of this session.

A few of the high points:

  • Tier One passed and was signed into law. This legislation offers funding to reward research productivity and match private funding, and also establishes goals based on national standards that will encourage us to stretch toward the excellence we know we can attain. It is deeply encouraging to have the support of nearly the entire Legislature for this effort to make the State of Texas known for its commitment to creating nationally competitive research universities.
  • A constitutional amendment to repurpose the Higher Education Fund as the National Research University Fund was approved for addition to the November ballot. Assuming voter approval, it will, within four to six years, provide a stable source of funding to support recruitment of top quality faculty and sustain excellence.
  • Appropriations to UT Dallas are up 16.71 percent — one of the greatest increases among Texas higher education institutions.
  • UT Dallas gained $11.5 million in new exceptional item funding: $6 million for the Middle School Brain Years; $5 million for the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology; and $462,500 for the Academic Bridge Program.

Finally, UT Dallas received major support from civic groups and other parties interested in making North Texas a better intellectual and economic community. We are grateful to the Dallas Regional Chamber, the Dallas Citizens Council, the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, the North Texas Commission, the City of Richardson and the City of Dallas, and to The Dallas Morning News for their thoughtful examination of the national research university concept.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to have such good news to report. Creating a bright future takes resources, and the State of Texas has provided us with those necessary resources for this biennium. A deep “thank you” from all of us at UT Dallas is extended to our friends and supporters.

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.