2013 Legislative Session
11:00 am
Fri January 25, 2013

Texas Lawmakers Hear From Universities About Funding Needs

Preliminary budgets in the Texas Legislature show cuts to higher education funding. Today and Monday, state lawmakers will hear from individual state universities and university systems about what funding they need.

The state’s higher education institutions will present their funding requests to the Texas Senate Finance Committee. The Texas State University System, the Texas Tech University System, the University of Houston System and the University of North Texas System will present today. The University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems will speak to the committee on Monday.

UT Austin President William Powers, Jr. is expected to ask for $95 million in tuition revenue bond money to build a new engineering building. The building, called the Engineering Education and Research Center, is expected to cost $310 million and would replace the current Engineering-Science Building.

“[This building] reflects not just the need for updated and higher-tech classrooms, but really a new way of teaching students, much more project-oriented, much more team-oriented,” Powers said at a UT System Board of Regents meeting Wednesday.

The Engineering Education and Research Center will total 430,000 square feet—that's 193,000 square feet more than the current Engineering-Science Building.

The UT System Board of Regents approved the construction project, a necessary step before Powers could ask for the tuition revenue bond money from the Texas Senate Finance Committee. However, Powers said at the meeting Wednesday that the University of Texas would pursue this project regardless if the committee approves his request. He said the university would seek money elsewhere if need be.

Earlier this year, National Instruments Co. donated $10 million to the University of Texas for the Engineering Education and Research Center. The money will fund the National Instruments Student Project Lab inside the center.

In January, the University of Texas opened its new $87 million College of Liberal Arts building. The building was $13 million under budget.