STAFF EDITORIAL: Even with Prop. 4, it will take years to achieve flagship status

The suspense surrounding Proposition 4 is no more.

The state constitutional amendment, which was designed to create a statewide research university fund, was approved with 56.7 percent of the vote. Under the amendment, about $680 million will be made available to seven of Texas’ up-and-coming research institutions, including UH, in an effort to help the state boost more schools to flagship status.

Texas has only three flagship universities: the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and the private Rice University. The passage of proposition 4 pushes UH, Texas Tech University, the University of North Texas, UT-Arlington, UT-Dallas, UT-San Antonio and UT-El Paso one step closer to reaching flagship status.

But just how close are UH and the other six schools to reaching flagship status with the passage of Proposition 4?

Not terribly close, at all.

The schools will have to acquire a minimum of $45 million of federally funded research annually for two consecutive years to gain access to a pool of about $425 million. They would also have to meet four of six other criteria, including endowments totaling at least $400 million, 200 awarded doctoral degrees each year and an increase in the number of top-notch faculty, The Texas Tribune reported.

Some of the remaining money would be used by the state to match funds that schools receive from research grants and philanthropists. Still, it’s not likely that money accessed from the research university fund will provide much of an immediate jolt to the process of adding more flagship universities.

Higher education officials estimate that it will take at least a decade before another Texas university will reach flagship status, the Tribune reported.

Given the fierce competition that is going to emerge between these seven schools for access to money from the research university fund, it’s possible that UH will be without flagship status as late as 2020.

Let’s do whatever we can to’ get there sooner by being productive alumni and students.

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