President and CEO of the Texas Economic Development Corporation (TxEDC). TxEDC’s mission is to promote Texas as the premier state to locate or expand the business and to offer insight and key resources to advisers and decision-makers. Follow Robert and TxEDC on Twitter at @GoBiginTexas.
Texas adds Tier 1, Tier 2 universities in 2021
December 2021 ended a challenging year, but it also brought some good news in terms of Texas’s ability to deliver high-quality and skilled talent for years to come. The Dec. 15 announcement that Baylor University and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have earned the coveted Research 1 (R1) designation (“very high research activity”), more commonly referred to as Tier 1, from The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
In an economic development world increasingly dominated by the need for high-quality and skilled talent, this latest news is outstanding, and I extend my congratulations to the leaders and teams at Baylor and UTSA who pursued this classification. Baylor and UTSA join nine other Texas institutions of higher education that have previously achieved Tier 1 status: Rice University, Texas Tech University, The University of Texas at Arlington, Texas A&M University–College Station, The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Texas at El Paso, The University of Texas at Austin, University of North Texas and the University of Houston.
On its face, the addition of two more Texas universities to this exclusive club is impressive, but I was curious about where that left Texas compared to other states. Thanks to Baylor and UTSA’s latest achievement, Texas now has 11 Tier 1 institutions of higher education—currently tied with California and ahead of New York (10), Massachusetts (7), Florida (6) and Pennsylvania (6). In fact—in 2010—Texas possessed only four Tier 1 universities. As the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board said: “The speed and breadth of progress is stunning,” and I totally agree!
If you explore further into the Dec. 15 announcement, you will find more impressive news for Texas and its ability to produce high-quality talent for years to come. In addition to the Tier 1 additions, Texas added four Tier 2 universities, and I extend my congratulations to the leaders and teams at Prairie View A&M, Sam Houston State University, Tarleton State University and The University of Texas at Tyler, which now join Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, Texas Christian University, Texas State University and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Today, Texas possesses 10 Tier 2 universities ranking No. 1 in the country ahead of New York (9), Ohio (9), California (8), Illinois (6), Massachusetts (6), and North Carolina (6).
Thanks to these recent additions, Texas now possesses more Tier 1 and Tier 2 universities (21) and added more (+9) Tier 1 and Tier 2 universities since 2010 than any other state in the country. Texas’ rapid acceleration in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 rankings since 2010 is incredible, but it’s even more incredible when you consider California added only six; Georgia, five; North Carolina, four; and Florida, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania, only three each over the same period.
Texas truly is the best state for high-quality talent, and, thanks to these latest Tier 1 and Tier 2 university additions, Texas is well positioned to help businesses Go Big in Texas for years to come.