Texas A&M University is poised to receive $71.5 million more in funding for the next two-year budget cycle compared to what it received in 2017, according to preliminary estimates of actions taken Friday by members of the Texas Legislature, who are negotiating the state’s budget.
According to a press release from the Texas A&M University System, Texas House and Senate conferees approved about $91.5 million in new money for Texas A&M University’s flagship campus for the next two-year budget cycle, as compared to about $20 million in the 2017 legislative session. The conferees’ final report must be approved with floor votes by both chambers of the Texas Legislature before going to Gov. Greg Abbott for his consideration. The session ends May 27.
The additional money can be attributed to Texas A&M’s growth (a $24.5 million increase in the funding formula), an estimated $12 million more in a special research fund, plus $55 million to help correct an imbalance in funding between the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M, the press release states.
“We are so grateful to the legislature for the appropriation decisions made today,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “This is a game changer. These much-needed funds will allow us to fulfill vital programs such as the Student Success Initiative and Faculty Reinvestment Program. I believe this is an acknowledgement of the hard work that faculty, staff and students at Texas A&M are undertaking. They deserve the credit for securing these funds, which will be put to great use.”
According to Young, the Student Success Initiative should help students graduate faster, and the Faculty Reinvestment Program would involve hiring more skilled professors to increase faculty size.
Young said the world is changing, especially in terms of technology, and officials want to bring in professors who are attuned to new data and emerging technology. Texas A&M also seeks to provide students with newer, more modern classrooms and laboratory spaces that will better prepare them for the jobs they will take after graduation.
“This gives us the opportunity to expand and accelerate all the plans that we have been making in developing the university in different ways, rather than doing that slowly, little by little,” Young said.
State lawmakers typically fund higher education institutions on a per-student basis, rewarding universities as a school grows, according to the System press release.
But in 2017, when most public colleges were threatened with funding cuts, UT was granted a $55 million “hold harmless” payment to ensure the school’s allocation was at least held flat. While colleges are not expected to face the same slashes this budget cycle, institutions that received hold harmless funding, like UT-Austin, had those line items maintained, according to The Texas Tribune.
The Austin flagship campus of the University of Texas had capped its enrollment at slightly more than 50,000 students, Texas A&M has continued to serve more students with about 64,000 on the College Station campus and about 69,000 when satellite campuses in Galveston, Qatar and McAllen are included.
Correcting that unequal funding was the top legislative priority for Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M System.
“This is the best financial session that Texas A&M has ever had,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp.