The statement below was issued by the University of Houston System Board of Regents at its Nov. 19 meeting:
We, the University of Houston System Board of Regents, have concerns regarding the University of Texas' recently announced plan to expand in Houston. Academic expansion within the regulated system of postsecondary education must adhere to the disciplined, strategic plan developed by the Texas Legislature through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, as described during our meeting today by Commissioner Paredes. The University of Texas’ unilateral expansion signals a departure from the historical practice of using taxpayer funds to strategically serve citizens in all regions of the state through collaboration and cooperation. In accordance with our obligations as members of the University of Houston System Board of Regents, as defined by the legislature through the Texas Education Code, it is our duty and responsibility to make clear our formal position on matters of importance to higher education and our 68,000 students. Accordingly, we, the University of Houston System Board of Regents, express the following concerns with the University of Texas’ unilateral expansion:
1. It violates the spirit of the State of Texas’ higher education framework under which limited state dollars are distributed to public universities to provide college access to the maximum number of students, while avoiding curriculum duplication.
2. It violates the process and rules defined by the Coordinating Board to enact planning measures that guarantee a geographic balance, requiring that any new programs and course offerings meet a high standard of need, taking into account pre-existing colleges, service areas and programs.
3. No strategic or financial plan has been shared with the public to evaluate the purpose of the expansion.
4. The University of Texas System has a disproportionate share of state resources through the Permanent University Fund (PUF), which augments this expansion directly or indirectly.
5. There are three large state universities -- University of Houston, University of Houston - Downtown, and Texas Southern University -- within a 6-mile radius of the proposed location. An adverse impact on these Hispanic Serving Institutions and Minority Serving Institutions and the students they serve is inevitable.
If the State of Texas is to allow duplication of services and competition as a practice for higher education in the future, then we respectfully ask the legislature to provide parity in resources, including PUF, for the University of Houston System before allowing the University of Texas System's expansion into Houston. We also request parity in rules for future University of Houston System expansion into other geographic locations.
Motion: I move to adopt this statement as the official position of the Board of Regents.