The University of Houston Magazine

Top Tier: What it Means to Our City & State

President Renu Khator and the UH System Board of Regents have been very vocal making the case for the University of Houston to become the state’s next top-tier public research institution. But they aren’t the only ones.

As flattering as a top-tier designation would be for this university’s reputation, that’s not the impetus for pursuing this goal. Top-tier status will be a tremendous benefit to UH and to the overall economic and intellectual climate of the city, Gulf Coast region, and state. This is a compilation of recent comments from prominent leaders concerning UH’s efforts to make top-tier status a reality.


Governor Rick PerryRick Perry
Governor of Texas

There’s a lot of talk about Tier-One institutions and how you get to be one. Higher education is essential to the continued growth of our state, to the reputation of our state, to the success of our state, and I would say, to the success of our citizens. Those conversations on how we attain the Tier-One institutions that we need and deserve in this state include approaches like the one we’re discussing today (the University of Houston’s enhanced presence as a biomedical research institution). This journey has taken the University of Houston to heights that maybe, some years ago, people might not have thought were in reach. But, as every day goes by, it becomes more and more apparent to folks that this institution is headed to the forefront of not only higher education in the state of Texas, but, particularly, the forefront of the commercialization of technology. And, the horizon is limitless.


David DewhursstDavid Dewhurst
Lieutenant Governor of Texas

In the last three years, I have stood in front of the Legislature each year and said, “Look, I’m going to champion higher education.” In 2005–2007, we put $4.6 billion into higher education. And this next session in 2009, we’re going to do more. . . . As our population doubles in the next twenty-five years, in the next ten years as we add 8 million to 9 million more people here in Texas, we’re going to need a third more public schools, a third more public school teachers, more university facilities, more faculty, and yes, a third and fourth Tier-One university. As a Houstonian, I think the University of Houston is a great selection for a Tier-One university.


Larry FaulknerLarry Faulkner
President, Houston Endowment Inc.
Former President, The University of Texas at Austin

What we mean (with terms like “flagship” or “top-tier” or “Tier One”) is a university that is seriously competitive at the national level—competitive for faculty, competitive for students, competitive for national funding, competitive for ideas. Both Dallas-Fort Worth and Greater Houston have more than 5 million residents and huge economies. But neither has a nationally competitive public university. Neither has access to the manifold benefits that such institutions could bring to their future development. The most important targets for development of new institutions ought to be Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. A state or community cannot make one by enacting a law, or passing a resolution, or printing new banners, or winning a sports championship, or pouring a lot of money into a place. The job is done by having leadership with an eye for talent, patient investment, and a strong habit of continuous improvement.


Houston Mayor Bill WhiteBill White
Mayor, City of Houston

Over the long run, the most important jobs in any country are the jobs of those who educate the next generations and the job of those who lead and facilitate that education. The University of Houston is the most important single institution in this city. I’ve said it at meetings of the Greater Houston Partnership. I’ve said it at civic club meetings. I’ve said it at other places . . . that did not include University of Houston graduates. There’s a special place for a large university with the research capability, with undergraduate and graduate programs. There can be no such thing as a truly great international city without a great institution such as the University of Houston, and we need to get even better. The war against ignorance and the competitive struggle that has produced such outstanding innovation and free enterprise in America is fueled by the educated workforce. So I commit to you to help lift this university even higher . . . the 2.2 million people of the city of Houston stand behind the University of Houston and all it means.


Congresswoman Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson Lee
U.S. Congresswoman

The University of Houston is a shining star, but now you have the right general who will carry us forward into the twenty-first century with Tier-One research, a great American institution serving those who make America great. Change is coming today. It is at the University of Houston.



Congressman Gene GreenGene Green
U.S. Congressman

I have to admit that in our congressional office, the majority of the staff members are University of Houston graduates. They did just like my wife and I did (coming to UH). They wanted to get that higher education and made that commitment. That promise of this university [is] replicated every semester. That’s what makes it a great university—the research work that it’s done—and it’s going to grow because . . . believe me, I’m trying to find every dime of your federal tax dollars to bring home here to the University of Houston for Tier-One recognition because we’re educating the next generation. Whatever the students want to do, they have that opportunity here on campus, including being Nobel Laureates.


Judge Ed EmmettEd Emmett
Harris County Judge

Anyone who is in any policy position representing Harris County, this region, or the state of Texas who doesn’t think the University of Houston should be Tier One is just not thinking about the future of the state. What is started today, we won’t really see the results of necessarily in our lifetime. We’ll see the beginnings, but the results will be seen through the eyes of children not yet born. Whether it’s a child born just a few blocks from UH or in a hut with no electricity, with no running water, he or she is going to someday look up and find himself or herself coming to the city of Houston to the premier institution known as the University of Houston.

The creation of additional TOP-TIER UNIVERSITIES is one of the greatest opportunities to transform the face of higher education in the state of Texas.


The University of Houston is a major link between Texas communities and Houston-area industries. As a TOP-TIER UNIVERSITY, UH will be better equipped to open doors and build successful futures for Texans everywhere.

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