Chancellor Robert Duncan Testifies on Higher Education Formula Funding
Duncan was invited to provide testimony before the Joint Interim Committee on Higher Education Formula Funding.
February 28, 2018 | Written by: Dana Jennings
Texas Tech University System Chancellor Robert Duncan testified before the Joint Interim Committee on Higher Education Formula Funding on Feb. 21 and Feb. 27 in Austin at the Texas State Capitol.
The committee was convened at the end of the 85th legislative session to study the current higher education finance system and issue recommendations for modifications or wholesale changes by April 2018. The joint legislative committee is comprised of members of both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate.
"The way we fund higher education in Texas is overdue for a close, detailed look and consideration of substantial changes," said state Sen. Kelly Hancock, one of the committee's co-chairs.
On Feb. 21, the committee heard invited testimony from state and higher education leadership regarding improvements to the current formula funding system for institutions of higher education.
Duncan spoke on a panel with chancellors of university systems in Texas without flagship universities that benefit from the Permanent University Fund and instead receive funding allocated from the Higher Education Fund: Lesa Roe, University of North Texas System; Brian McCall, Texas State University System; Renu Khator, University of Houston System.
“We need to clearly identify what it is we want to accomplish in higher education in Texas,” said Duncan. “In the areas we want to move the needle, we need to focus our investments in institutions that are struggling in those categories in order to ensure they have adequate resources to educate and provide access.”
Dr. Richard Lange, president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, was invited before the committee to provide testimony on behalf of health related institutions (HRIs).
“As the state with the highest population growth in the nation, there has never been a more critical time for health education in Texas,” said Lange. “To put that need in perspective, Texas currently ranks 41st in the U.S. in number of active patient care physicians; 43rd in the number of registered nurses; 44th in the number of dentists; and 47th in the number of active patient care, primary care physicians per population of 100,000. In El Paso alone, we have a 21 percent shortage of nurses, a 46 percent shortage of physicians and a 67 percent shortage of dentists compared to the national average. Unfortunately, formula funding has not kept up with the demand for growth. In order to serve our expanding population, we absolutely need to increase our capacity to supply more health care providers, and that means making HRIs a priority in terms of funding.”
Duncan returned to Austin Feb. 27 providing testimony regarding the realignment or elimination of non-formula support items for institutions of higher education.
Before becoming chancellor, Duncan served in the Texas Legislature for more than two decades. He was elected to District 84 in the Texas House of Representatives in 1992. In 1996, he won a special election to the Texas Senate, where he served until resigning to become chancellor in 2014.
During his time in the Legislature, Duncan was a champion for higher education, crafting programs such as the National Research University Fund and the Texas Research Incentive Program, or TRIP, which incentivizes giving to university research priorities by awarding state matching funds, among other programs.
“I appreciate the initiative of the committee to make this process a collaborative one,” Duncan said. “It’s important for our state leaders to hear the thoughts of higher education leaders on matters of funding. I believe we can come together to produce solutions to the issues we face in our current system of funding higher education.”
About the Texas Tech University System
Established in 1996, the Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the state of Texas and nation, consisting of four universities—Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.
Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the TTU System is a $2 billion enterprise focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach with approximately 20,000 employees, nearly 53,000 students, more than 330,000 alumni and an endowment over $1.2 billion.
In its short history, the TTU System has grown tremendously and is nationally acclaimed, operating on 17 campuses statewide and internationally. Under the dynamic leadership of Chancellor Robert Duncan, the TTU System has set forth a bold vision of excellence, collaboration and innovation and continues to prove that from here, it’s possible.