|O'Quinn Donates $6M to Renovate Robertson||The UH system proposes
a $448 million increase in formula funding
System administrators announced their agenda Monday for the upcoming state legislative session
By Lisa M. Chmiola
University of Houston System administrators announced their legislative agenda Monday for the coming state legislative session.
The agenda includes plans for what administrators will bring before the legislature after it convenes Jan. 12, and is broken down into three categories: The Higher Education Coalition, additional funding issues and higher education policy issues.
Under Higher Education Coalition issues, the universities propose to increase formula funding by $448 million in an attempt to increase graduation rates. Texas is behind the national average rate of producing college graduates by 24 percent.
In addition, the attendance rate at four-year universities in the state is below the national average, and about one-half of those entering community colleges or universities do not graduate.
Administrators plan to ask for retention of 100 percent of indirect cost reimbursements to promote research and aid technology development. The state currently returns 50 percent of the reimbursements to universities.
Funding would also be used to attract more high-quality faculty in an attempt to raise UHís status to a Carnegie I Research institution from Carnegie II status.
With UH a Carnegie Research II institution, Texas falls short in the number of first-tier research universities.
Additional financial support would allow Texas and UH to "enhance the quality of student education, attract and retain more high-quality faculty, use state appropriations as leverage for greater research support, increase technology transfer to the private sector, attract new companies and industries to Texas and produce spin-off companies."
Other funding uses would include faculty and staff raises of 5 percent a year and increases in student financial aid based on need and merit.
In the additional funding issues category, administrators plan to ask legislators for an increase in the Higher Education Assistance Fund allocations and the optional retirement program. The stateís appropriations to this program have been reduced to 7.31 percent from 8.5 percent, leaving universities to pick up the difference.
A total of $37 million in tuition revenue bonds is also requested in this section: $15 million for a student center/classroom building at UH Clear Lake, $2 million for renovating and equipping current UHCL facilities and $20 million for the purchase and renovation of a facility in the Texas Medical Center for UH.
The approval of the UH Recreation and Wellness Center, for which a $75 per semester user fee was approved in a student election this fall, is also requested from the legislature.
Higher education policy issues include the 170-hour cap placed upon undergraduate students. The cap prohibits state funding for most students who exceed 170 hours before receiving a bachelorís degree. Administrators are seeking a clarification in the language of the statue to ease implementation.
Other issues to be discussed may include: effects of Hopwood-instigated legislation and additional solutions regarding diversity issues; discussions surrounding Texas A&Mís affiliation with the South Texas College of Law; insurance programs for university employees; and the possible altering of open meetings and records acts, which may include legislation to eliminate executive session briefings.
Communication strategies for legislative outreach within the University
community were also discussed.
Reach Chmiola at