Supporting Public Higher Education Pays Big Dividends for San Antonio
by President Ricardo Romo
January 9, 2013
This month state leaders assembled in Austin for the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature. Among the myriad issues lawmakers will consider is how to keep college education accessible and affordable while accommodating enrollment growth.
Without a doubt, it will be a challenge to balance the needs of the state with the available revenues. Yet, the decisions legislators make about higher education will have a lasting impact on Texas and our economy.
Just 14 percent of public university budgets are funded through state legislature appropriations. As recently as fiscal year 2006, that number was 36 percent.
While the Bexar County legislative delegation continues to provide strong support for higher education, the reality is that colleges and universities are being challenged to operate more efficiently and to seek alternative sources of funding including greater reliance on philanthropy. This is a challenge that we embrace.
The University of Texas at San Antonio has been the beneficiary of tremendous philanthropic support from the community. Over the past three years UTSA reached 92 percent of its capital campaign goal of raising $120 million by 2015 due to philanthropic giving. This investment helps position UTSA to achieve Tier One status as a premier research institution.
Every day, new discoveries are being made by UTSA students. New ideas are being brought forward and commercialized for the public benefit. Knowledge is being shared, and lives are being enriched.
The benefits for San Antonio are unquestionable.
Each year, UTSA awards diplomas to nearly 5,000 students. Many of those students hold degrees in highly technical studies including biology, engineering, cyber-security and other areas of scientific research. Others graduate with valued skills to help advance education, human and social development, business, the arts and architecture, and more.
With degrees in hand, UTSA graduates find that their skills lead to career opportunities across the country and the world. Yet, instead of taking their talents elsewhere, the majority of UTSA graduates, some 70 percent, choose to remain here and give back to our city.
The result is the creation of highly skilled, well-paying jobs and the advancement of the city’s reputation as a significant player in the high-tech sector and the global economy.
UTSA graduates will build their careers here, raise their families here, become active business and civic leaders, and contribute more than $1.2 billion to the San Antonio economy through home, car and other purchases. They will become involved in local non-profit organizations, serve as volunteers on boards, contribute to the arts, and participate in the local electoral process.
At a time when public resources are scarce and the demand for highly skilled workers is great, the generosity of our community ensures that San Antonio is strongly positioned with a well-educated workforce ready for the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
To those who have invested in or partnered with UTSA, thank you. It takes the support of an entire community to become a Tier One university. We are well on our way and have made significant progress, but we still have much more to do.
San Antonio is a top tier city and it deserves a Tier One University.
President Ricardo Romo—
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