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Texas State University could get millions in new funding if voters approve Prop 5

A flag in front of a Texas State University building says "Vote."
Gabriel C. Pérez
Texans are voting on 14 proposed amendments to the state constitution this election.

A proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution could help support more robust research at a handful of public universities in the state.

If approved by voters in the Nov. 7 election, Proposition 5 would create a new permanent endowment.

“We’re really excited about the fact that the state Legislature is putting together a new endowment called the Texas University Fund, which will be initially funded with $3.9 billion,” Texas State University President Kelly Damphousse said.

The fund would not require any new taxes.

The state could also provide an additional $100 million to the fund each year, with interest from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund.

Texas State is one of four universities that currently meet the criteria for the proposed fund. The other three are the University of Houston, Texas Tech University and the University of North Texas.

“Right now, it’s set that Texas State University would get about $22.3 million per year to support our efforts to become an R1, or Research 1, university,” Damphousse said.

The R1 or Tier 1 status indicates “very high research activity” and is the highest designation a university can earn from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Texas has 11 Carnegie Tier 1 universities.

Damphousse said earning that designation would have significant benefits for Texas State. He anticipates Texas State is on track to earn the Tier 1 research designation by 2027.

“It helps us with recruiting students," he said, "but also helps us to recruit faculty members who come here as well, who want to work at an RI institution, which improves the quality of instruction and the quality of the experience of the students who come here."

Damphousse said the money from the Texas University Fund could be used to help pay for stipends and scholarships for doctoral students. Texas State actually has 111 more PhD students this year than the previous year.

“But we also have a strong history here of our faculty members engaging our undergraduate students in research as well,” he said. “And so as we get more and more research active faculty here at Texas State, our undergraduate students will have an enhanced experience.”

Damphousse said more funding for university research will improve the lives of all Texans. He pointed out that Texas State is representative of the state as a whole: 95% of its students are from Texas, 59% are students of color, and more than half of its incoming students are eligible for Pell Grants, a federal program that helps students with “exceptional financial need” pay for college.

“We actually look like the state of Texas,” he said. “And that’s why I feel like Texas State University, as it improves its ability to teach and reach out to our students, actually increases and improves our ability to help all Texans lead a better life.”

Prop 5 would also create the National Research Support Fund to support four other universities, including the University of San Antonio, but the Texas Legislature would need to approve funding every two years.

An existing $32 billion endowment, the Permanent University Fund, supports UT Austin and Texas A&M.

There are a couple other propositions related to education on the Nov. 7 ballot. Prop 2 would allow cities and counties to reduce property taxes for child care facilities. Prop 9, if approved, would provide a cost-of-living increase to retired educators.

Early voting lasts through Friday. Election Day is next Tuesday.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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