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The costs and rewards of pursuing Tier I

It’s going to cost a lot of money for the schools that have been authorized to pursue Tier I status to actually achieve it.

The University of Houston estimates it would cost an additional $70 million a year to reach its goal by 2015. The University of Texas at El Paso’s plan ultimately could add almost $200 million a year to its operating budget.

New state funds will help, but much of the money will come from the universities themselves, requiring substantial private fundraising even as the economy continues an uneven recovery.

“We would like to be back to the good old days where the state subsidized us more than it does but realistically, there’s not going to be a lot more money from the state,” said John Antel, the chief academic officer for UH. “We can’t charge students much more. We’re going to have to go out and raise the money.”

The potential reward for all that investment is also quite substantial.

The strategic plans filed with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board spell out how each school hopes to get there.

All intend to add both students and faculty, with faculty who will bring $1 million or more in research grants especially prized. And all seven promise to maintain or increase the number of minority students they serve.

You can find all of those strategic plans, including ones for the already-Tier-I UT and Texas A&M, here. The end result should be thousands of new jobs – not just faculty, but also staff to support the increased enrollments and new programs; I’d bet there will also be some construction involved as well – more students attending Texas universities, and higher graduation rates. Oh, and more high-end research being conducted in Texas as well. The economic impact of all this ought to be quite large. I can’t wait to see it come about.

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