The Pride Tech Wants to Achieve
Story and Photos by Laramie Adams
Texas Tech University has started implementing plans to reach Tier One status, which will designate Tech as a national research university. Officials and employees at Tech are enthusiastic about plans set to reach such a prestigious status.
“It is important for us to become a Tier One university because it validates that we are a top research university,” Tech Chancellor Kent Hance said. “We will receive the Tier One status by improving the amount of money we spend on research.”
In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 51 in a unanimous vote in the House and the Senate. The bill set up criteria which will allow one or more of seven Texas schools to become a Tier One university.
The bill proposed six criteria for becoming a national research university. For a school to achieve the status, they must meet four of the six criteria. Robert Duncan, a Texas State Senator representing west Texas, aided in passage of House Bill 51.
“I think the Tier One bill was one of the most impactful bills we passed this past legislature,” Duncan said. “My name is not on the bill, but we implanted it into House Bill 51, and then we had to stick it on an eminent domain bill as a constitutional amendment and got it passed. It was significant to higher education in Texas and to Texas Tech as a top research university.”
One piece of the Tier One legislation created the national research university fund. Money from the fund could be used to benefit Tech if they achieve the national research status.
“The fund allows money stranded in a separate fund to be used by schools that meet certain standards,” Hance said. “Tech, in my opinion, has the best chance of meeting all the requirements first. The fund is about $500 million, and it will spin off about $25 million a year. That money would be able to go to the new research universities.”
Increased research funding has been implemented to help achieve Tier One status, and Taylor Eighmy was hired as the new vice president of research to oversee the research plan is accomplished. Tech officials have also been working to recruit professors who will bring research dollars to the university.
“The key is building our research, and that involves recruiting more graduate students who are vital to running the labs,” said Sally Post, Tech director of communications and marketing. “We are also recruiting researchers who are tops in their field and who will bring research money with them.”
One criteria set to reach Tier One status is the number of doctoral degrees awarded must top 200 in each of the previous two years. Tech has awarded just less than that in the past two years, and graduate programs have been increased this past year. Russ Bookbinder, Tech’s vice chancellor, said the university has almost reached that goal.
“We are very close to reaching over 200 doctoral degrees,” Bookbinder said, “and we have been close to that on an annual basis.”
Hance stated confidently he believes Tech might reach the Tier One status in as soon as three years or maybe six at the most.
“You can get as good of an education at Texas Tech as you can anywhere in the nation,” Hance said, “but for us to become a top research university we need to get the Tier One status. This has been one of my top priorities at Tech.”
Tier One Update
Texas Tech is advancing toward the achievement of the Tier One goal. In a statewide election on Nov. 3, voters approved Proposition 4, which created the National Research University Fund (NRUF). To qualify for these funds, Tech must meet minimum levels in the areas of restricted research funds, number of Ph.D. students, Phi Beta Kappa/ARL status, and have an endowment of $400 million. In addition, Tech will need to meet certain quality levels for faculty, undergraduate and graduate programs. At the time of this article, Tech had already achieved several of these criteria.