Friday, December 12, 2014

If Texas wants to have their cake and eat it too, they need to champion upgrading Texas Tech.

As I wrote last time, the leadership of the University of Texas is torn four ways when it comes to conference affiliation and best of those scenarios would appear to require Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma to come along

This means it is in the best interest of UT to rally it's political capital behind changing and upgrading the mission of Texas Tech University.

Tech has strong support in West Texas and in the major cities of Texas.  Media wise, they are a good compliment to UT in delivering the state.  It is in UT's best interest to make this alliance more understandable academically.

I am going to get pretty far into this.  A lot of these recommendations won't happen. I get that.  In a lot of ways this list will lean heavily into the realm of "not gonna happen".  I am only pointing out what would make sense for UT.

It is in the interest of UT to have the state fast track Tech's evolution into more of a research university and use the legislature to raise the admission standards at Tech. 

It is in the interest of UT to bend over backwards to push cooperative research efforts with Tech when ever possible.

It is in the interest of UT to help push for legislation that would push more students in the top 10% of their Texas senior classes to Texas Tech via state scholarships.

It is in UT's interest as well as the state's to see Tech move closer in quality to Texas A&M, so in a decade or so when the Big 12 Grant of Rights deals end, Tech is not a somewhat embarrassing anchor to drag with UT, but more of an academically respectable partner which will not skunk any deals that could bring money into the state.

Today, Tech is ranked #156 among National Universities by US News.  These kinds of changes would dramatically impact the US News scoring system and would push Tech higher.

A higher ranked Tech means a more powerful Tech.  It means an increase in value of a Tech degree.  That means more money in Tech alumni hands.  And all of that means more power backing UT alumni in state.

The State of Texas wants more "tier 1 research universities".  UT has already chosen an alliance with Tech over one with Houston, UNT, UTEP, and all the other schools vying to get more into research.  So why let Tech struggle?  It is counter-productive. 

It is in the best interest of UT to leverage their alumni's political clout into pushing down on that scale in favor of Tech.

It is in the best interest of UT to push legislation that reassigns small west Texas public universities into the Texas Tech System as it increases Tech's clout by reducing A&M's.

It is in the best interest of UT to try to rally political support from all Big 12 alumni to bring that enlarged Texas Tech system into the Texas Permanent University Fund over A&M resistance.  It doesn't make UT sense to have Tech, a long term ally,  fighting with the other lower tier large public universities over a share of the much smaller Higher Education Assistance Fund. 

Tech's association with UT in the Big 12 brings a lot more value to UT than say UT-Permian Basin brings to UT by their membership in the UT system.  Why should UTPB get access to the PUF funds over Tech?  It make no sense from a Longhorn perspective.  If UTPB (or for that matter UTEP, UTSA, or UTA) was pushed to the Tech system, it could create a little legal tension and political support to admit the Tech system in order to protect UTPB's small PUF share.

(In my opinion, shifting UTEP, UTPB, UTRGV, and UTA out of the UT system and into the pool of schools pulling from the HEAF would make a lot more organizational sense as they are similar tier universities... but I also believe that fund should be dramatically expanded with the express intent to transition the larger schools in that lot into "tier 1 research universities".  That would still leave sensible candidates like UTPB and West Texas A&M as candidates for the Texas Tech System.

If UT lets manay of them members schools be reassigned but keeps the higher ranked UT-Dallas as well as UT- Southwestern and all the science and medical universities in the UT system, I would think it would actually enhance the UT brand.  Let the lesser schools that chip away from the UT brand follow a similar rebranding path as the University of Memphis.

Pulling Prairie View and Tarleton out of the A&M system to match the changes made on the UT side would make sense as well.

Simply redirecting some funds that would normally trickle down to UT and A&M associate schools towards Tech as a new PUF member would be a great start to ramping up Tech.

Neither UT or A&M are as reliant on that fund as they used to be, but those monies could quickly help upgrade Texas Tech to slow the brain drain of top Texas seniors going to college out of state.

UT and A&M can't take all the qualified applicants they get.  Why not start the process of transforming Tech into a lesser A&M to soak up candidates who just miss the UT and A&M cut?  I envision a Texas Tech ranked in the top 100 National Universities with an enrollment of 45,000 by the year 2030 that pumps out a better graduates to power the economy in West Texas.

That would be a great ally for UT and would be great for the state.

Similarly the State of Oklahoma raising academic standards at Oklahoma State and pushing oil revenue into research at both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would be smart moves to cement the relationship with UT long term.

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