The Texas House on Friday voted unanimously on a plan making it easier for the University of Houston to gain elite status by gradually becoming a national "tier-one" research institution.
Houston, the country's fourth largest city, deserves a public tier one university, said. Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston, a member of the House Higher Education Committee.
"A tier-one university will attract that much more in the way of research and all the types of things that you can accomplish when you have tier one status," she said.
Texas has two public tier-one schools -- Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin. The lack of additional elite universities creates enrollment pressures at UT and A&M and causes a net loss each year of 6,000 high-achieving Texas high school graduates who leave for a top-tier university in another state.
Texas has identified seven emerging tier-one universities. Texas Tech, the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Dallas are generally considered in the upper echelon from which the next tier one university will emerge, said House Higher Education Chairman Dan Branch, R-Dallas, author of HB 51, which requires Senate action before it heads to Gov. Rick Perry.
In related news, the Senate Higher Education Committee took action on the matter of tuition.
Senate Bill 1443, by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who chairs the panel, would limit increases in tuition and mandatory fees at the 35 institutions in various ways depending on a school's current charges, recent increases and other circumstances. The limits include the inflation rate, 5 percent, $315 a year and $630 a year. The amount of legislative appropriations is also factored into the calculations.
State Rep. Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) applauds the Texas House of Representatives for passing legislation - House Bill 51- that would create more tier one universities in Texas.Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 25, 2009 to Budget ballyhoo
Rep. Coleman was a joint author to House Bill 51 by Rep. Dan Branch, which would let seven public universities compete for a new pool of state funds if they can attract major research grants, major endowment gifts, and top research faculty and staff.
"Texas currently has only two public universities classified as tier one institutions, even though we have the second highest population in the nation," said Representative Coleman. "We are lagging far behind other states with similar populations."
"Texas students deserve more nationally recognized research institutions," said Representative Coleman. "The development of more top tier universities would open up seats of excellence available for Texas students, and would make our state more nationally and globally competitive."