Tech Regent: Support Texas University Fund in election

On Nov. 7, West Texans and voters across the state will have the opportunity to vote to elevate the mission of Texas Tech University.

The Texas University Fund (TUF) will be on the ballot as Proposition 5. This initiative creates a $3.9 billion endowment that will also benefit three other university systems: the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, and Texas State University.

None of these systems receive support from the Public University Fund, which, pursuant to our state constitution, funds only the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems.

Funding for the new TUF is being sourced through a one-time infusion of funds from the state’s budget surplus, combined with a legacy fund called the National Research University Fund. During the last legislative session, the Texas Legislature overwhelmingly approved this arrangement on a bipartisan basis, and Governor Greg Abbott signed the enacting legislation into law.

But now, voters must make it official.

Texas Tech has become the heart of West Texas and is critical to the economic health of the region. Texas Tech creates a $3.5 billion annual economic impact and has a current enrollment of more than 40,000 students. Texas Tech produces the engineers, teachers, healthcare professionals, scientists, agricultural professionals, veterinarians, business professionals, lawyers, artists, and musicians that make the West Texas economy work.

The Texas Tech University student body is composed of a high percentage of students who are the first in their families to attend college. The University is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and provides educational opportunities to a disproportionately large number of students from rural areas and small towns.

A point of pride for me, personally, is that West Texas values consistently manifest themselves in Texas Tech students—regardless of where they grew up. We produce graduates who have grit, determination, humility, a great work ethic, and are prepared for the workforce by the time they complete their studies. Our university does not indoctrinate students with the pop-culture social movements that often pollute higher education. Instead, it focuses on helping students to become sound and level-headed adults who can think for themselves.

Also consistent with West Texas values, Texas Tech has always managed the university with great financial discipline and prudence. Because of this, Texas Tech remains one of the most affordable universities in the state, with tuition and fees that are significantly lower than the University of Texas and Texas A&M. Our Board of Regents recently renewed a commitment to maintain current tuition levels for the next two years, even in the face of rampant inflation throughout the rest of the economy.

As a native West Texan, I am deeply committed to fiscal conservatism, and am always skeptical of any initiative that enables government spending. I believe that the smaller government is the better it is for the citizens, and the less money it spends the better for the taxpayers. I know that many West Texas

voters also hold these same views and will be naturally skeptical of any proposal that permanently allocates a large amount of taxpayer money.

But Proposition 5 does not create any new taxes or necessitate any further spending. The principal of the endowment will be invested to generate returns that will be paid out to the universities on an annual basis. While advocates of big government often erroneously describe spending as ‘investment,’ this is one case in which the expenditure will truly create a new investable asset on the public balance sheet.

Furthermore, I think we can all agree that it is beyond time that proper attention is paid, and investment made, in West Texas. West Texans are characteristically hesitant to push for our ‘fair share’ and have become experts at finding a way to make ends meet through nothing more than toughness, fortitude, and determination. We have always done more with less, even as tax dollars from our farms, ranches, and oilfields are divided up and distributed to the rest of the state.

Thanks to bold leadership from local political and University leaders, and perhaps because our elected officials in Austin have finally begun to realize that the food, fuel, and fiber from West Texas (not to mention consistent, loyal voting behavior) are the backbone of our state’s prosperity, we finally have opportunity to receive an infusion that will yield benefit to the region for generations to come.

Texas Tech welcomes and expects public accountability for how we steward the proceeds from the endowment. Judge us based on our ability to meaningfully increase valuable research while continuing to maintain good workforce outcomes and solid value for our graduates. We should be expected to uphold the West Texas values that make us great and to stand as a shining example of how higher education serves the greater public good.

A vote for Proposition 5 is a vote for economic growth, for educational access, and for critical research that will pave the future for our children and grandchildren. A vote for Proposition 5 is a vote for West Texas and a vote for Texas Tech. Please help us to make this generational opportunity a reality.

Read the full story from Lubbock Online here.