breaking news

Authorities clear Austin bombing suspect’s home of explosives, officials say 

Regents increase UT-Austin’s share of endowment payout


The university will get 53 percent, or $338 million, instead of 49 percent, or $314 million.

“I think it’s time for us to put our money where our mouth is,” said Regent R. Steven Hicks, who made the motion.

The governing board of the University of Texas System voted unanimously Thursday to boost UT-Austin’s share of the system’s annual endowment payout by 4 percentage points, or $24 million, to $338 million.

The Austin campus had been scheduled to receive 49 percent, or $314 million, of the payout. Instead, it will get 53 percent, effective for the budget year that begins in September.

In making the motion for the increase near the end of a two-day UT board retreat, Regent R. Steven Hicks, a 1972 graduate of the university, said the increase would send a message of support to the flagship after a period when the board was locked in “a political battle” with the campus. That was a reference to disputes regarding admissions, fundraising and other matters.

“I admittedly bleed orange,” Hicks said. “It was painful for me being on this board to watch your alma mater be attacked and investigated.”

KEEP UP WITH THE HORNS: Click here to receive our daily Longhorns email from

The increased funding, he said, would help the university pursue a goal of ranking among the top five public universities in the nation. “I think it’s time for us to put our money where our mouth is,” Hicks said.

Regents’ Chairman Paul Foster echoed that view. “UT-Austin is our flagship,” he said. “This board is absolutely committed to making it a top, top-tier university — it already is, but to elevate it even further and to continue to support it.”

The increase in UT-Austin’s share of the payout from the Permanent University Fund — a multibillion-dollar endowment overseen by the Board of Regents — applies only to the coming fiscal year. Nonetheless, the board has tended to stick with such policy-oriented changes in the past.

Because of a projected surplus in the payout, the increased allocation to UT-Austin will not affect funding available for the system administration or debt service at the system’s 14 academic and health campuses, said Scott Kelley, the system’s executive vice chancellor for business affairs.

UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves expressed gratitude for the regents’ action.

“During this challenging budget cycle, these funds are especially needed,” Fenves said in a statement. “They will be used for strategic initiatives to support our students and faculty.”

The board also voted unanimously to instruct Chancellor Bill McRaven to recommend “a significant increase” in funding for the UT System’s so-called STARS program, which helps recruit top faculty members to the campuses. No specific amount was mentioned. The current annual budget for the program is $30 million. McRaven said he would make a recommendation when the regents meet in August.

The retreat, held at the Hotel Granduca Austin in West Lake Hills, came at a time when the relationship between the board and McRaven is in flux. Some of the regents had been openly critical of his plan to establish a campus of sorts in Houston — an initiative that he scuttled in March. And the chancellor, a retired admiral, stopped short last month of saying whether he wants to stay on the job after his three-year contract expires at the end of the year.

On Thursday, he sounded considerably more upbeat but still declined to address the matter of his future. “We have not had a discussion,” he said, adding, “I very much enjoy working with this board.”

It became clear during the retreat that the regents would like to reduce the size and budget of the system administration that oversees the various campuses, but no decisions were made. They spent more than half of the retreat behind closed doors discussing personnel, legal and budget matters. That was a sharp contrast to a regents’ retreat in 2009, when sessions were all open to the public.

The UT regents, who are appointed by the governor, serve without pay. The UT board is considered perhaps the most prestigious in all of state government, overseeing one of the largest university systems in the nation, with 14 academic and health campuses that count more than 228,000 students, more than 20,000 faculty members and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisers and support staff.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

THREE FEARFUL WEEKS: Suspect dead, motive unclear in Austin bombings
THREE FEARFUL WEEKS: Suspect dead, motive unclear in Austin bombings

For nearly three weeks the Austin bomber was able to sidestep police as authorities say he planted a trail of deadly homemade bombs around a city increasingly consumed by anxiety and fear. And then on Monday, officials say the suspect walked into a FedEx Office store in Sunset Valley, clad in a strange-looking blond wig, baseball cap and gloves, and...
Austin bombing suspect dead: Here is what people are saying
Austin bombing suspect dead: Here is what people are saying

Many Austinites woke up to the news that the suspect, who has since been identified as 23-year-old Mark Conditt, behind a series of bombings targeting the city had died. Tuesday's overnight developments, however, had a reach farther than Austin.  Many took to social media to express themselves after learning that Conditt died when he detonated...
U.S. Supreme Court sides with Texas death row inmate
U.S. Supreme Court sides with Texas death row inmate

Siding with a Texas death row inmate Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a lower court to take another look at Carlos Ayestas’ request for money to fully investigate his claims of schizophrenia, brain injuries and similar issues. Known as mitigating evidence, such information is supposed to be provided to jurors before they decide whether...
Mason family on bombing suspect: ‘We can now start to move forward’
Mason family on bombing suspect: ‘We can now start to move forward’

Relatives of 17-year-old Draylen Mason, one of two victims who were fatally injured during the Austin bombings this month, said they can “start to move forward” after authorities identified the suspected bomber, according to a family statement issued Wednesday. “We are a family of faith and we know that with God all things are possible...
UT System report left out devilish details on tuition aid at campuses
UT System report left out devilish details on tuition aid at campuses

A chart and presentation at a meeting of the University of Texas System Board of Regents this week gave the impression that all undergraduates whose family incomes fall under certain levels don’t have to pay tuition and fees. In fact, that’s not the case. Consider UT-Austin. It appeared, based on the chart in the Board of Regents&rsquo...
More Stories