Attached below is my reply to a facebook conversation I had regarding UT's expansion. It stems from an article I posted on several state legislators opposing the expansion. His initial sarcastic comment was: "It's okay, competition is bad and better colleges closer to home don't help anyone. Neither do the construction jobs and local service jobs." My reply: __________, You raise some important issues, although I’m not sure they can be distilled in such a simplistic manner. First, concerning competition. While competition is an economic boon in the private sector, it presents different considerations when dealing with publically funded institutions. Both UH and UT receive a large portion of funding through the state, and the state is responsible for ensuring that its higher-education resources are wisely allocated. Unlike many areas of the state, Houston has no lack of available higher-education opportunities. To name a few: UH, Rice, UH-Downtown, UH-Clearlake, the Houston Community College System, Houston Baptist University, Texas Southern University, the various colleges in the Medical Center, and numerous others. In short, competition exists, and with it brings opportunity. Might it be wise for UT to allocate some of its public dollars to be used in underserved areas of the state? I strongly believe that the state has a responsibility to its taxpayers to ensure that public funds are used in a wise and economical manner. It is unnecessary for taxpayers to fund UT’s expansion when such a wide variety of quality and accessible universities already exist. Second, concerning legislative oversight and transparency. In part to ensure the wise allocation of higher-education dollars, the state established the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The THECB maintains oversight of higher-education programs, and they are typically consulted (or at a minimum, advised) before a public universities add new programs. In this instance, the University of Texas System neither consulted nor advised the THECB or the state legislature before authorizing such a radical expansion. Because UT is a taxpayer funded institution, I believe that they should have conducted this process in a transparent, forthright manner. This process would include the appropriate oversight and vetting from our elected representatives. Third, concerning unfair competition and the PUF fund. The playing field in Texas Higher Education is titled in UT’s favor because they have almost exclusive access to the Texas Permanent University Fund. No other higher-education institution in Houston has access to this enormous pool or resources. It is erroneous to claim that competition will bring out the best in a metro-area when state funding disproportionately favors one institution over all others. Fourth, concerning misallocation of resources. The UT System has nine four-year component Universities that are fighting for their share of a limited public resource pool. UT’s encroachment into Houston will dilute—dollar for dollar—the amount of resources available to other UT component universities. At least two of those universities (UT Dallas and UT San Antonio) are designated as Texas emerging research universities. And yet, last legislative session those institutions went hat-in-hand to the Texas legislature requesting (and receiving) authority to issue tuition revenue bonds. Rather than pouring public resources into a brand new Houston campus, UT should support its already existing component universities and hone them into tier-one research institutions. Finally, concerning the University of Houston. UH has recently emerged onto the national stage as a Tier-One Research University. This remarkable achievement (combined with numerous smaller academic achievements) has resulted in a substantial net economic benefit to the city and the state. Out-of-state students now recognize that Texas has three public tier-one institutions and they are pouring into Texas at a rate never before seen. More students are getting a top quality education than ever before. UT’s presence in Houston (with their extraordinary pool of taxpayer funds) would poach students and professors from UH and would interfere with UH’s extraordinary trajectory. In conclusion, reasonable minds may disagree about whether UT’s expansion is good or bad. I happen to believe that UT’s expansion is detrimental to the state legislative process (setting bad precedent), to UT system component universities, to UH, and to all other universities in the Houston metro area. But that is just my opinion.