With plans Friday to rename Texas State University's River Systems Institute, the Texas State University System Board of Regents aims to recognize a Dallas-based philanthropic organization.
The institute, which focuses on developing and promoting strategies for sustainable water use, will now be known as the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, following a $1 million gift from the Meadows Foundation. The university's plan is to grow the institute into a $10 million center focused on water research.
For the next several years, the foundation will continue funding the center beyond its initial $1 million gift in order to build up a permanent endowment. Additionally, Texas State will have to seek further philanthropic gifts to help fund the center, as well as state money.
Among public universities seeking to boost their research efforts, such announcements are increasingly commonplace. "With public funding at all levels getting tighter and tighter and no end in sight, the role of philanthropy in supporting this kind of critical research becomes more important each day," said Andrew Sansom, executive director of River Systems Institute, who will stay in the same role. The fact that state and federal dollars have become more uncertain and more difficult to secure, he said, "significantly increases the impact" of the Meadows Foundation gift.
Linda Perryman Evans, president and CEO of the Meadows Foundation, issued a statement saying, "Establishing the center is a critical step toward our goal of preserving a sustainable supply of water to support the needs of Texas' residents, wildlife and natural habitats by providing scientific research on which to base sound water management policies in Texas."
The Meadows Foundation had already supported the initial formation of the Rivers Systems Institute in 2002, but Sansom said this new development will help take its work to the next level by expanding their research capacity and fostering further collaborations. From the get-go, the center will have strong ties with state agencies like the Texas Water Development Board, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Texas State University as a whole is in a transformative period. It was recently reclassified by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to reflect its growth. By moving into the "emerging research university" category, Texas State is now in the running to benefit from the state's incentive program designed to build more tier-one public universities in Texas.
Texas State President Denise Trauth hopes the new center can help attract top students and faculty who will further the institution's reputation as water becomes an increasingly critical issue throughout the region and the country. "Thanks for the Meadows Foundation, Texas State will assume an even larger and more effective role in addressing [water issues] on behalf of future generations," she said in a prepared statement.