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Historic Election Has Implications for Higher Education in Texas

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November 3, 2009-Houston-
On Nov. 3, 2009, Texas voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that will dramatically affect higher education in our state. Basically, Proposition Four makes existing funds available as a pathway for seven state schools to become Tier-One research universities. The ballot language calls for establishing: the national research university fund to enable emerging research universities in this state to achieve national prominence as major research universities and transferring the balance of the higher education fund to the national research university fund.

To cast an informed vote, here are four things that are important to understand:

Texas has only three Tier One universities while California has nine and New York seven. Tier One institutions have tremendous economic impact, with research expenditures resulting in a 200 percent return on investment. Texas loses $3.7 billion a year - and thousands of our academically gifted high school students who leave for out-of-state colleges - because we do not have a comparable number of Tier One schools.

Creation of the National Research University Fund (NRUF) does not call for any taxes to be levied or bonds to be issued. Money in the dormant Higher Education Fund - plus any money added in future years - will become the NRUF.

To qualify for NRUF funding, the seven schools - UH, Texas Tech, UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas , UT-San Antonio, UT-El Paso and the University of North Texas - will each have to meet rigorous benchmarks determined by the Legislature and Higher Education Coordinating Board. Criteria include the amount of research expenditures, the number of Ph.D degrees awarded and endowment levels.

The enabling legislation behind Proposition 4 received unanimous bipartisan support in the Texas Legislature and has been applauded by major newspapers (Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News) and civic leaders(former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and the Greater Houston Partnership).

The enabling legislation behind Proposition 4 received unanimous bipartisan support in the Texas Legislature and has been applauded by major newspapers (Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News) and civic leaders (former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby and the Greater Houston Partnership).

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