Development Board Hosts Panel on Tier One Impact
Rep. Dan Branch and Carnegie Mellon Research VP Discuss Benefits, Challenges

Kicking off a new series of communitywide events, the UT Dallas Development Board recently hosted a panel discussion on the potential impact of a national research university on North Texas.

State Rep. Dan Branch and Dr. Rick McCullough BS’82, vice president for research at Carnegie Mellon University, addressed an audience of almost 200 at Communities Foundation of Texas.

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The University’s 60-member development board, which promotes UT Dallas’ interests in the community, will sponsor open events at various locations throughout the Metroplex twice a year.

At the recent panel, McCullough described how Carnegie Mellon – ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 universities nationally – attracts federal research funds, venture capital and innovation to its hometown of Pittsburgh. “Top university research helps build a new economy,” he explained. Texas currently has three Tier One universities: UT Austin, Texas A&M and Rice. None is located in North Texas.

In addition to his role at Carnegie Mellon, McCullough is a conductive polymer technology expert who founded the high-tech startup Plextronics Inc.  Carnegie Mellon’s formula for success, according to McCullough, is “talent, technology, regional and state support, and university and state leaders. And for UT Dallas, when people like Representative Dan Branch and President David Daniel get together, you can get things done.”  

Branch authored the 2009 Tier One law, which led to the creation of the Texas Legislature’s Texas Research Incentive Program, or TRIP, and $50 million in matching funds allocated to emerging research institutions across the state. UT Dallas raised $16.9 million in private gifts, which qualified for a $15.2 million match.

“We’ve got plenty of momentum, but the trick is to get through the budget challenge without taking too much damage,” Branch explained. The Texas Legislature meets every two years and is currently in session. “UT Dallas is a critical linchpin for North Texas,” he added.

Members of local corporations, community groups and education advocates attended the event and voiced support for a national research university in North Texas.

“Creativity is the key to growth in a vibrant city,” said David Tannenbaum, a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P. and head of the firm’s intellectual property and technology practice in Dallas. “Tier One universities are the engines that drive creativity, and UT Dallas is positioned perfectly to achieve that goal.”

For some, McCullough’s and Branch’s messages were a call to action. “It’s vital to the health of our city to have a Tier One university and we’re glad to play any role we can to make this happen,” said Lance Charriere, director of client relations for Turner Construction.

State Rep. Dan Branch (right) and Dr. Rick McCullough, vice president for research at Carnegie Mellon University, described how a strong research university gives its surrounding community economic vitality.


Approximately 200 people attended the program at Communities Foundation of Texas.


UT Dallas Development Board members Bill Booziotis and Dr. Burton Einspruch attended the gathering.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].