The fate of the University of Houston now lies in the hands of the Texas Senate. Thatâ€™s where lawmakers are poised to decide if UH, and six other schools will be awarded the elite status as national research universities. The measure, which recently passed the House, would grant â€śTier Oneâ€ť status to the seven schools. That basically meansÂ the school receives at least $100 million a year in research grants and has selective admissions, low student-faculty ratios and competitive salaries.
Texas has just three national research universities. California, by contrast, is home to nine.
Creating more “tier one” universities, would improve the quality of the state’s work force and reduce admissions pressure at UT Austin and Texas A&M University, the only public tier-one institutions in Texas. The third is Rice University, a private school in Houston. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board groups all 35 public universities in three categories: Research Universities (UT-Austin and Texas A&M); Emerging Universities (7 universities, including UH); and Comprehensive Universities (Remainder of public universities).
The bill being considered authorizes the University of Houston, The University of Texas at El Paso, UT Dallas, UT San Antonio, UT Arlington, Texas Tech University, and the University of North Texas to compete for about $50 million in the next two years. The money would allow the schools to conduct more research, hire exceptional faculty and increase their competitiveness on the national level. Its money UH Chancellor Renu Khator says would be well-spent at her institution.
â€śOur number one priority at university is studentâ€™s success,â€ť she said. â€śWe want to make sure we provide access to students. When we admit a student, we want to give them every possible opportunity to be successful. And not only that they graduate, but they graduate with the skills to make them globally successful leaders.â€ť
The University of Houston, has already been classified at the highest level as a doctoral-granting research university by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, achieved another key milestone in its mission toward top tier research status as the Foundation has awarded UH its highest designation for community-engaged institutions in the nation.
Elevating UH into the ranks of the nation’s top research universities is one of the major goals of Khator’s presidency, which began less than one year ago. Sheâ€™s getting support from a lot of local leaders.
â€śThe University of Houston has more impact than perhaps any other institution of higher learning on the culture and economy of America’s fourth-largest city,â€ť said Houston Mayor Bill White. â€śIt is deserving of this recognition among America’s top-flight colleges and universities. We know it to be deserving of top tier recognition in so many of its endeavors.â€ť
Having another elite public university would also encourage bright Texas students to stay here instead of heading out of state, advocates say. Plus, a so-called tier-one university generates new business and pumps up the local economy. Campus researchers make new discoveries â€“ i.e., a way to make computer chips smaller and more durable â€“ and companies form to bring those inventions to the marketplace.
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