UTSA and the 86th Legislative session
This Wednesday we celebrate the 50th anniversary of UTSA’s creation by the Texas Legislature. Just as in 1969, legislators today firmly believe in the ability of UTSA to make a difference in our community and the world. That is one of the reasons UTSA fared so favorably in the recent legislative session, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize their incredible support for our university and the entire higher education community in Texas.
Thanks to the hard work of many of our elected leaders, this session brought numerous positive outcomes for UTSA, bolstering our trajectory as a model for student success and a great public research university:
UTSA saw a significant bump over last session’s higher education formula funding process. Our share includes a $26.1 million increase, a 13.6 percent rise over the last biennium and the second highest funding increase across all 37 Texas public institutions! Our efforts to grow weighted semester credit hours during the counting year was instrumental in this dramatic increase.
The Texas Grants program has a clear impact on the retention and graduation rates of our Roadrunners. House Bill 1 included an increase of $80 million in statewide funds for these grants, which will allow us to provide additional financial support to our students, some 68 percent of whom rely on financial aid.
Core Research Support Fund
HB 1 included the continuation for Core Research Support (CRS) funds, which support research activities at Texas’s eight emerging research universities. This critical funding was renewed by the legislature, and will result in approximately $10.4 million coming to UTSA to support faculty development, research equipment acquisition, laboratory upgrades, student fellowships and proposal development.
Texas Research Incentive Program
House Bill 1 also included support for the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP), which incentivizes private philanthropic support of research through matching funds for private gifts. The legislature approved a $35 million biennial investment into the TRIP pool, and we can look forward to taking advantage of this funding as we secure gifts generated by our upcoming capital campaign.
Foster Care Pilot Program
UTSA had a new non-formula support item funded this biennium - $3.5 million for a pilot program to create a pipeline of educational support for students with a history of foster care. This partnership with UTSA, TAMU-SA, Alamo Colleges District and Bexar County will position Texas to be a national leader in this area. We appreciate the leadership of Senator Pete Flores, Senator José Menéndez, and Representative Trey Martinez Fischer in sponsoring and carrying this new appropriations request.
Tuition Revenue Bonds
Our San Antonio community and business leaders all came together to rally around a tuition revenue bond bill, House Bill 2000. The bill included a building project for every university in Texas. Although the bill passed in the House, it did not make it through the Senate. Given the overwhelming community support, we are already exploring other avenues to secure funding for our plans to expand business education and career engagement at our Downtown Campus. We are finalizing the acquisition and transfer of the two city-owned land parcels and will be launching the National Security Collaboration Center and School of Data Science construction project on the property abutting San Pedro Creek later this year. In addition, we are finalizing arrangements to acquire and transfer the county-owned property for our new interdisciplinary business education building. We will be keeping you apprised about these matters as they proceed.
The entire San Antonio legislative delegation did a phenomenal job advocating and fighting for all of UTSA’s legislative priorities. As we continue on our rapid trajectory toward our institutional destinations, I am deeply grateful to our elected leaders for supporting so many programs that are vital to our success. The record-breaking funding we are receiving this biennium is a testament to our legislators’ trust and belief in our capacity to drive prosperity and change lives. We should all feel very proud!