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LU budget boost, science-technology building approved

Stronger budgets and new construction are outcomes of the 84th legislative session that Lamar University officials are calling one of the best ever for the university.

“Lamar University fared very well in the 84th Texas Legislature; indeed it can be argued that the session was the university’s best in recent decades as all of the university’s legislative requests received support,” said Lamar University President Ken Evans in an announcement released to the campus community. 

“We are very grateful to Lamar’s legislative delegation, as well as to the Regents, Chancellor, and staff of the Texas State University System for their vital support,” Evans said.

LU’s general state appropriations for the next two years increased more than $20 million; the largest dollar and percentage increase in the Texas State University System.  This 19 percent increase is largely the result of the university’s tremendous growth in graduate engineering and online education credit hours. Overall, Fiscal Year 2016 budgets increase approximately 13 percent.

A large portion of the increase will go to refill open faculty positions or to hire new faculty in growth areas. A portion will also support funding in strategically identified academic programs including educational leadership, educational counseling and engineering. Also, the university will further enhance its recruiting and retention programs and significantly increase scholarship funding and student support.

Of the increase, $3.8 million will fund two years of support for new research centers: the Center for Advances in the Study of Port Management, and the Center for Advances in Air and Water Quality.   All of the university’s other legislatively supported programs were also continued.

LU received funding for the construction of a much-needed science and technology facility. The facility will greatly enhance the university’s instruction and research capabilities. The $60 million major construction project will be funded through State issued tuition revenue bonds. After construction, the existing Hayes Biology Building will undergo renovation and be repurposed.

In addition, Higher Education Assistance Funds for capital improvement will be increased during the second year of the biennium by 50 percent, bringing Lamar University’s funding level to $14 million for fiscal year 2017.

Lamar’s Texas Academy for Leadership in the Humanities received additional funding due to a bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Deshotel and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott establishing funding parity between TALH and similar academies at other higher education institutions.

In addition, several financial assistance programs to help Texas students were enhanced in this legislative session that will benefit many students at Lamar University.