Texas Legislature Must Halt UT System's Hostile Houston Expansion
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UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven has announced plans to purchase 332 acres in Houston only 5 miles from the University of Houston.
If the State of Texas is to allow duplication of services and competition as a practice for higher education in the future, then we respectfully ask the legislature to provide parity in resources, including Permanent University Fund (PUF) land-grant funding, for the University of Houston System before allowing the University of Texas System’s expansion into Houston.
“Competition is good in business. Competition is bad among Texas state agencies. It creates unnecessary duplication, and it wastes taxpayers' money.” - Welcome Wilson Sr.
The University of Houston Alumni Association Foundation’s mission is to serve and support the University of Houston, all of its alumni, and all of its students. We are committed to supporting the University of Houston as a premier institution, and want to express our serious concerns and reservations surrounding the University of Texas System’s proposed expansion in the Houston area by purchasing 332 acres of land less than 10 miles from the University of Houston’s main campus.
Academic expansion in the State of Texas is regulated by the Texas Legislature and through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. There are several examples in the recent past where Texas A&M University, the University of Texas itself, the University of Houston, and other schools have sought permission from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to use taxpayer funds for expansion throughout the state. The University of Texas System should follow the same rules with this proposed expansion. Getting permission from state regulators before using state tax dollars is an important check to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used in the best way to strategically serve all citizens in all regions of Texas. Because the University of Texas System has not followed this process as it attempts to purchase land in Houston, we formally express the following concerns with the University of Texas System’s proposed expansion:
1. The proposed expansion violates the spirit of the State of Texas’ higher education framework under which limited state dollars are distributed to public universities to provide college access to the maximum number of students, while avoiding academic program duplication.
2. The proposed expansion violates the defined processes and rules set forth by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that are designed both to: (a) guarantee a geographic balance throughout the state so that the higher education needs of all Texans are served; and (b) require that new programs and course offerings meet a high standard of need, while taking into account pre-existing colleges, service areas, and programs. The attempted expansion without coordinating with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board does not allow state regulators the opportunity to ensure an efficient and effective use of resources.
3. No strategic or financial plan has been shared with the public to evaluate the purpose of the University of Texas System’s proposed expansion. Thus, no study can be conducted to determine whether the greater Houston area desires the programs or courses the University of Texas System proposes to offer, and no analysis can be done to determine whether the University of Houston offers similar programs or courses.
4. The University of Texas System has a disproportionate share of state resources through the Permanent University Fund (PUF). These funds will augment the proposed expansion, either directly or indirectly. We do not agree that the University of Texas System should receive a disproportionate share of state PUF monies, and certainly do not agree those funds should be used to augment a land purchase in Houston so that it can stake a presence in Houston for future programs.
5. There are three large state universities – the University of Houston, the University of Houston - Downtown, and Texas Southern University – each within a 6-mile radius of the proposed location of the University of Texas System’s proposed expansion. An adverse impact on these Hispanic Serving Institutions and Minority Serving Institutions and the students served is inevitable.
We also request parity in rules for future University of Houston System expansion into other geographic locations.
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