Universities have played a significant and historical role in the development of new industries, creation of new jobs, commercialization of technology, and training of business leaders leading to innovation hubs across the U.S. Over the past 10 years, the state of Texas has doubled down its efforts on creating multiple Tier One research universities that can continue to improve the economy and ensure that Texas remains competitive globally. Texas currently stakes claim to three Tier One research universities: Rice University in Houston, Texas A&M University in College Station, and University of Texas in Austin. Both Houston and Austin remain highly competitive economies with much of this success being traced to their home universities.
Innovation ecosystems across the United States have long, deep roots with innovative, research-based universities. Research drives new knowledge, new knowledge creates solutions to problems, businesses have problems, and universities help solve them! North Texas is the only major metropolitan area in the U.S. without a recognized Tier One research institution. In fact, most of the top 10 metropolitan areas in key metrics such as research, patents, startups, and venture capital possess two Tier One level research universities.
Innovation ecosystems across the United States have long, deep roots with innovative, research-based universities. Research drives new knowledge, new knowledge creates solutions to problems, businesses have problems, and universities help solve them!
North Texas needs a Tier One university to sustain its growth. All of those corporations need talent and talent needs education and training. Talent needs to develop, grow, and hone skills. Corporations have problems that need solutions. Some are business problems, others technical, and yet, others require basic research to further a field. Startups need software developers, kids need summer camps, parents need great universities for their children to attend, and communities need cultural development. A Tier One university is designed to provide solutions to these and other problems.
We’ve established that DFW needs a Tier One university, but how does it happen? What is a Tier One university? How is it measured? The Dallas Regional Chamber, in partnership with the Texas Research Alliance, developed a summary of nine key metrics for national recognition and 16 metrics for the State of Texas’ “emerging research institution” designation that can be found here. In short, the metrics for recognition focus a lot on money (research grants, endowment, and annual giving) as well as student numbers (test scores, graduation rates, doctoral degrees awarded). What emerges is that we have a long way to go for most universities, but that our public universities are a lot closer than most would think. In two-year benchmarking data, UT Dallas and UT Arlington meet or exceed many of the requirements. The other North Texas universities are making great strides as well. Across the state, only the University of Houston and Texas Tech University exceed UT Dallas and UT Arlington, each with 12 of 16 metrics met, but each of these universities are flagship institutions inside of their own systems where the majority of resources are funneled.
What emerges is that we have a long way to go for most universities, but that our public universities are a lot closer than most would think.
It is exciting to be a part of the evolution of the universities in North Texas. Over my career, I’ve worked directly with all of the major universities in North Texas and many of the smaller universities. The students, faculty, staff, and capabilities of these universities is becoming top-notch and Dallas is a better place to work, live, and play because of these assets.
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