The University of Houston boasts a system of some 74,000 Cougar students — all of whom have a reason to roar after a major get from the Texas Legislature.
The university has received major funding for its myriad systems, schools, and structures. That includes startup funds for the UH College of Medicine; funding for new facilities for the UH Law Center and Hobby School of Public Affairs; and increased funding for general operations and hurricane recovery at all four UH System universities, according to a release.
Lawmakers also authorized a dedicated student fee to pay for new wellness centers at University of Houston-Downtown and University of Houston-Victoria. Each initiative passed now awaits Governor Greg Abbott’s signature.
$20 Million to UH College of Medicine
The new UH medical school will focus on training more primary care physicians to practice in underserved urban and rural communities, and will receive $20 million in state funds next biennium to help with start-up costs. The university plans to ask the legislature for an additional $20 million over the next four sessions. Earlier this month, lawmakers passed a bill that recognizes the medical school in state statute. It hopes to admit its first class of students in fall 2020.
$45 Million for new UH Law Center and Hobby School of Public Affairs facilities
The state budget designates $45 million for new facilities for the UH Law Center and the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs. The UH Law Center is home to three top-10 law programs, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. The new UH Law Center building, will enhance student learning and faculty teaching capabilities while mitigating problems associated with the previous flood-prone structure.
The Hobby School, named in honor of former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, was originally founded as the Hobby Center for Public Affairs in 1981. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board granted its approval as a school in 2016.
UHS General Revenue increase
The UH System will receive nearly $18 million in general revenue increases. Formula funding is state-financed enrollment-driven funding crucial to limiting students’ financial burden. The formulas assess the cost of delivering a semester credit hour to a student. It accounts for about one-third of revenue of UH System universities.
Hurricane Harvey recovery aid
UH System universities will receive more than $26 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery not covered by insurance or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The flood damaged 60 percent of the buildings throughout the UH System. The funding will also help restore lost revenues sustained from students not returning, in addition to fees, services, and wages incurred that were not reimbursable by insurance: (University of Houston: $20.3 million; University of Houston-Downtown: $4.0 million; University of Houston-Victoria: $1.7 million; University of Houston-Clear Lake $83,668.)
Campus Improvements at UHD, UHV
Additionally, the legislature has authorized a dedicated student fee to pay for a new wellness and success center at UH-Downtown and a new recreation and wellness center at UH-Victoria.
“I am extremely grateful for the support of Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Speaker Bonnen throughout this session and to all of our state lawmakers for making higher education such an important priority,” said Renu Khator, chancellor of the University of Houston System, in a statement. “Building great public institutions is truly a partnership with our elected leaders.”