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Orange & Maroon Legislative Day 2017 once again brings together a statewide, grassroots network of alumni and friends of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. These alumni work to increase public and legislative support for our state's higher education system, particularly The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.

When: February 15, 2017

Where: Austin, Texas

OMLD Group Photo

Resources

As we tell the stories of the Orange & Maroon, it's important to be equipped with the latest information and to know who your legislators are. Whether you email or contact them during the year or specifially as part of OMLD 2017, this section provides links to help you engage your representatives.

Floor of the Texas House of Representatives

FAQ

Although they educate almost 100,000 students a year, these two publicly supported state institutions depend on appropriations to fund instruction, research and infrastructure obligations. With a national trend of decreasing or static state support for higher education for the ever growing need for an educated workforce, the state's higher education system is attempting to provide a quality education to more students with rising costs. Faculty salaries must still be competitive and an adequate infrastructure must be in place to attract and retain top faculty. Texas A&M and UT have a state constitutional mandate to be universities of the "first class." Even though these universities have strong resource support, the cost for upholding this constitutional mandate is great. There are basically two sources of funds that support the core function of a state university: state funds and tuition.

Many people believe UT Austin and Texas A&M are "rich" because they receive funds from the PUF, which has a market value of $10.4 billion. A&M and UT are advantaged by the PUF and are very grateful to receive it, but are not the only benefactors of the PUF. Today, the PUF supports 18 institutions and 6 agencies from the UT and A&M Systems, serving more than 215,000 students. The income from the PUF (Available University Fund or the AUF) can only be used to pay for debt service on PUF bonds issued to fund capital expenditures at both systems institutions and to fund excellence programs at UT Austin, Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University. A&M and UT have made good use of these enhancement dollars by hiring new faculty, providing scholarships, purchasing specialized science and engineering equipment, and making library enhancements. However because state support has not kept pace with increasing costs, the advantage these schools receive from the AUF is diminished in the support for excellent academic programs. Unfortunately, the PUF does not have the same effect it once had in the contribution of excellence on each campus.

Tuition rates are increasing nationwide, as state budget cuts are shifting more of the financial burden to the student. Texas is no exception. The Legislature faced a funding crisis eight years ago, with a $10 billion deficit. While the Legislature passed a prudent state budget in 2003, it recognized it could not fund higher education at the level necessary to provide a quality education. As a shift in policy to address long term needs, it authorized public universities to set tuition rates to support strategic goals and to offset the loss in general revenue. With only two primary revenue sources, general revenue and tuition, each institution continues to streamline its efficient operations and now has to make the decision on whether to raise tuition or risk jeopardizing high quality education. Although students from both institutions would not have preferred a tuition increase, they recognized the need and offered their support. The new tuition dollars are earmarked to hire more faculty members, reduce the student-faculty ratio, enhance the teaching-learning process, reduce the deferred maintenance of the aging campus facilities, and provide financial aid and scholarships to students.

Texas does need more national research universities and it recognized this when it the legislature in 2009 adopted a pathway to provide incentives and funding for more universities to reach this important goal. Voters also approved a constitutional amendment providing additional funds to those emerging research institutions meeting critical milestones on the path to Tier 1 status. At this point, Texas Tech, University of North Texas, University of Houston, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, University of Texas at El Paso and University of Texas at San Antonio are focusing on moving to Tier 1 status.

National research universities draw talent, federal research dollars, and innovation to our state. They bring research that has both short and long-term impact on our economy. For every dollar the state invests in UT and A&M, more than $18 is generated in the Texas economy. That's an exceptional return on investment.

So where is Texas now? California and New York both have nine national research universities. Texas has three -- UT, Texas A&M, and Rice. We are a rapidly growing state, and having only three universities in this category limits the state's research capacity and innovation generation these important institutions produce, and it limits the appeal to both talented students, faculty and researchers to move to our state to be engaged with the excitement produced by a national research university.

While funding the efforts for additional Tier 1 universities is important, just as important to the state's economy is continuing to adequately fund the existing public research institutions. A&M and UT must be supported to continue to be premier institutions that attract research and innovation, and the nation's best and brightest students, faculty and researchers.

If you have additional questions or wish to contact us, you can email us at tamuadvocacy@aggienetwork.com or call us at (979) 845-7514.

Address

505 George Bush Drive
College Station, TX 77840

Phone Number

(979) 845-7514

© 2017 The Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University, All Rights Reserved