Texas State officials have set their sights on meeting monetary and research criteria required to become a major research university.
The university is now striving to become eligible for money from the National Research University Fund, which is achieved by meeting four of six criteria set by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. A strategic research plan has been put together to determine how the university will meet the standards of the criteria. Provost
Research Plan Committee will complete a final draft and then do a campus wide review of the plan.
Michael Blanda, associate vice president for Research and Federal Relations, said the committee will complete the plan by April 15. Blanda, the committee chair, said the plan will be presented to the coordinating board for approval in May.
Blanda said the committee had to assess which of the six criteria Texas State was likely to meet in the next eight to 10 years before the plan was developed. The committee decided the university could meet the criteria on research spending, endowment dollars, achievements of the freshman class and faculty accomplishments.
Nance said the coordinating board has appropriated $51 million in funding for institutions that meet four of the six criteria. The University of Houston and Texas Tech University are currently the only Emerging Research Institutions that have met the standards and have access to the fund.
Bill Nance, vice president for Finance and Support Services, said one mandatory criterion is the university must spend $45 million per year in restricted research dollars, which are external sources of funding. Blanda said as of December, the university was at $22 million in restricted research expenditures. Blanda predicts it would take about eight to 10 years to reach the $45 million minimum based on the university’s growth rate.
Bourgeois said grants will help the university achieve this goal.
“On our way to becoming a National Research University, we definitely need to increase the number of grants, especially research grants, that we submit and hopefully win through awards,” Bourgeois said.
The university plans to meet the criterion of gaining $400 million in endowments, Blanda said. Texas State has raised approximately $131.1 million in donations as of Jan. 9, according to the University Advancement webpage.
Blanda said another criterion the committee feels confident in meeting is the mandate on high academic achievement of the freshman class.
Blanda said the university has filed a petition for membership for both faculty and students in the Phi Kappa Phi honors society. This membership will meet the criterion addressing research recognition and scholarship. The committee is confident in meeting this criterion because of a plan for Alkek Library to become recognized in the Association of Research Libraries.
Blanda said the committee believes the university can meet the criterion addressing high quality faculty. Certain faculty need to have membership in national or state academies such as the National Academy of Sciences. Texas State does not have any members in those types of academies currently, but there are a growing number of National Science Foundation CAREER Award holders, which qualifies professors.
Blanda said the committee did not feel the university could meet the criterion requiring 200 doctoral students to graduate per year. He said Texas State is currently not “cranking out” a large enough volume of doctoral degrees.
“I think everybody would recognize we are well on our way to being this National Research University,” Blanda said.
Bourgeois said Texas State will gain prestige and visibility once it is eligible for National Research University funding.