From the Publisher How to Create a Research University

Cities that have them will be centers. All others will be satellites. Here’s what Dallas needs to do. and who needs to do it.

CITIES WITHOUT RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES ARE the Rust Belts of tomorrow. No city that does not have a vibrant intellectual climate that attracts and engages bright minds will be a long-term player on a major scale in the new economy.

Two of our greatest assets are UT Southwestern and UT Dallas, By merging these two UT System universities, we could create a powerhouse of innovation in the converging worlds of high-tech and biotech.

But merging them will not be simple. The UT System is a creature of the state legislature. To create a research university in Dallas means that the legislature must want a research university here. And there are plenty of reasons why it won’t.

First, some will say the UT System already has a great research university-in Austin. Partisans of UT Austin (and as a graduate I’m one of them) are fiercely protective of its standing. Others, perhaps of the Texas A&M persuasion, will be jealous of an unequal expansion of the UT System. Let’s not kid ourselves: These old school loyalties run our state.

Second, Houston and West Texas have their own claims on the legislature’s wallet. Texas Tech has not been shy about its ambitions, and the University of Houston already serves more students than all the schools in Dallas combined. Both have clout.

Third, the Dallas delegation is notoriously weak, and Dallas area governments and business interests always seem to be singing from different hymnals. As a result, our influence in the legislature is nearly zilch.

Fourth, our traditional business leadership is politically inept. In past legislative sessions, it has seemed blissfully ignorant of how to play the legislative game.

So Dallas has its work cut out for it. But we shouldn’t overlook our strengths. Our telephony and high-tech businesses are the engines pulling the train economically in this state. Our message needs to be simple, direct, and incessant: The engine needs more fuel.

Texas lags significantly, even alarmingly, in firstclass academic institutions. We’re the second largest state in the nation and one of the great economies in the world, but look how we stack up against the number one state. California not only has Berkeley, but also UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara. UC Riverside, and UC Santa Cruz. In U.S. News’ list of the top 50 public universities these rank, respectively, number one, number three, number seven, number 12, number 13. number 32, and number 33. Against thai array of seven top-flight public universities, all Texas can muster is UT Austin at number 14 and Texas A&M at number 18.

Texas needs to act. Dallas is the logical place for that action to take place. Our assets are in place. A merger would bring a new research university on line in a remarkably short period of time.

Our top 25 high-tech companies-the people who would bene fit the most and the quickest-need to take this merger in hand. They need to commit money, muscle, and the personal attention of their CEOs. They need to set a strategy for making it happen. They need to corral the support of the rest of the business community and the regional governments, and to make this project Dallas’ number one priority. They need to carve out the time to get to know the committee chairmen personally and to work with our own delegation. They need to open up conversations with Houston and Lubbock-maybe we can scratch one another’s backs.

The chief message the legislature should hear next session is this: Texas’ economic engine needs more fuel, and Dallas is the most logical place to pile it on.

PUBNOTES



Cover Girl



■ Singer Sara Hickman may be the most enthusiastic cover model we’ve ever had. She’s certainly the most pregnant. Sara and photographer Larry Travis had a roaring good time at the photo shoot, and it shows.



$10,000 Design Prizes



■ A reminder to all you budding urban designers out there: In our June issue, TrizecHahn Office Properties will award three Dallas students 510,000 each for their takes on the “Spirit of the City.” Pick up an entry form at your school and get started: The deadline is April 3.



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