LUBBOCK, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott and Rep. Dustin Burrows discussed plans to invest a billion more state dollars into Texas Tech University’s endowment next legislative session, part of their latest effort to assist the university in achieving the coveted AAU status.

“I want to provide a billion-dollar endowment to Texas Tech that will almost double the amount of endowment they have already,” Gov. Abbott told KAMC News. “That will help elevate Texas Tech to be what’s called AAU status, the top-level status of universities in the United States of America. Our goal is to get Texas Tech University to that status.”

“AAU status” refers to membership in the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of the 64 most elite research institutions in the country. Texas is home to three AAU universities: The University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Rice University. The legislature has long sought to improve the state’s standing in the association.

“AAU is the next natural thing we should want to achieve for Texas,” Rep. Burrows said. “It is embarrassing that we are not putting the resources necessary to do that. Over the summer, we talked about what we could do to make a splash and try to get Texas Tech to be one of those … and the idea is to put almost a billion dollars into a new endowment set up for it.”

Texas Tech’s endowment is currently valued at $1.69 billion. Another billion-dollar investment from the state would increase it by about 60 percent.

In the third special session of 2021, Rep. Burrows filed legislation to create the Texas University Fund. HJR 13 would have created a new fund for research in the Texas Tech and University of Houston systems, but it failed to gain traction in the House. Burrows said Appropriations Committee Chair Greg Bonnen supports the bill, and he is optimistic it will gain speed next session.

“There’s a lot of people talking about the fact that we need to have at least one if not two more universities part of this prestigious AAU thing,” Rep. Burrows said. “I think we’re going to see movement during the interim to study it, to look at it, and try to fund it this next cycle.”

Rep. Burrows did not offer a plan to fund this investment, but he expressed openness to using a portion of the Permanent University Fund should it be amended.

“That would be poetic justice in my mind,” he said. “My focus is on what Texas Tech needs–not what other universities may have. Wherever it comes from, that’s what is most important. But obviously, if we could get it from the Permanent University Fund and The University of Texas, I would love that. Especially after the debacle of them leaving the Big XII this summer.”