In a defining moment for the University of Houston, Texas voters have approved Proposition 5 to establish a $3.9 billion endowment, the Texas University Fund (TUF), to position UH and three other Texas universities at the national forefront of academic excellence and research preeminence.
More than 64% of voters supported the constitutional amendment in the Nov. 7, 2023 general election to provide permanent funding to attract top faculty, increase research opportunities and enhance graduate studies at UH, Texas Tech University, Texas State University and the University of North Texas. As a result, UH can initially claim about $1.3 billion of the endowment and is set to receive approximately $50 million in the first year, which will grow annually depending on investment returns.
On a mission to become a top 50 public university, UH made a remarkable 21 spot jump in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, currently No. 70 in the nation. UH President Renu Khator said this “transformational” new funding will not only help improve rankings, but will ultimately spur greater student success to help drive the state’s economy.
“Thanks to you, Proposition 5 has passed and you have helped secure UH’s continued rise to the top 50,” said Khator. “None of this would have been possible without the support of our state legislative leaders and your vote. Now more than ever, UH can help create new jobs, make our state more competitive, and get students to earn a top-ranked education right here in Texas.”
Currently, Texas has only two top 50 ranked public universities (University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University), and has lagged behind other states in federal research funding. In comparison, California boasts nine universities ranked in the top 50, whereas Florida, New York and Virginia each have three. More than 20,000 university students leave the state every year to attend a top university elsewhere, with many never to return.
The additional funding will ensure more Texas graduates can fill high-paying jobs and reduce the state’s reliance on out-of-state and international talent, according to Jason Smith, UH vice president of government and community relations.
“While Texas consistently attracts top talent both within and beyond its borders, it’s essential for the state’s future economy that we focus more heavily on educating homegrown talent to meet the state’s evolving economic demands,” said Smith. “A thriving city and a premier public university go hand in hand. The Texas University Fund will help us create the state’s next great university, which is critical to our city’s future.”
TUF will also be instrumental in increasing research and development, positioning Texas as a global frontrunner in cutting-edge sectors such as energy and technology. More than half of all federal R&D funds are awarded to the nation’s top 50 public universities. More venture capital and innovation are sure to follow.
While UH has seen a 53% growth in federal research expenditures by faculty in the last five years, it takes additional resources to hire more acclaimed researchers who are top federal grant-winners. TUF will enable UH to offer elite researchers specialized laboratory space and state-of-the-art equipment.
“A vote for Proposition 5 wasn’t just a vote for UH. It was a vote for our community, our students, our state, our future. And I owe you my deepest gratitude,” added Khator. “It’s now a brighter day in Texas.”
The endowment is funded through a one-time allocation from the state’s budget surplus, combined with funds in the underutilized National Research University Fund (NRUF). It’s supplemented with interest income generated by the Economic Stabilization Fund. Notably, there are no new taxes introduced, nor will future state taxes support the fund.
Learn more about the approval of Proposition 5 here.