By PAUL J. WEBER Associated Press © 2011 The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas — Once again defending academic research against proposals that question taxpayer funds not being spent on classroom teaching, University of Texas President William Powers said Monday that the state’s flagship campus is receptive to change but not at the expense of research.
“The result of an unfettered, curiosity-driven research model is that it expands knowledge for society,” Powers said. “If we try too hard to direct research from the top, we’ll diminish our overall returns.”
Powers spoke to about 200 invited university officials, UT alumni and faculty, many of whom are concerned with ideas to revamp higher education that Gov. Rick Perry has endorsed. Among them is scrutinizing the role of research at Texas colleges and universities, which critics argue doesn’t always give the state enough bang for its buck.
Powers did not directly mention the controversy or name the most recent outspoken critics of academic research during his speech on the UT campus, the timing of which school officials called rare. The UT System Board of Regents is scheduled to meet later this week. Read more…
When Jeff Sandefer bought a small plane, he chose one of the few models equipped with a parachute designed to protect occupants by lowering the aircraft to the ground in an emergency.
That desire to avoid unnecessary risks has guided his investments as well. After graduating from the University of Texas and Harvard Business School in the 1980s, Sandefer formed an oil company but eschewed the wildcatting style of his father and grandfather. Read more…
By Mike Ward | Monday, May 9, 2011, 02:07 PM
A proposed amendment to a higher-education bill that would prohibit non-U.S. citizens from getting in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges and universities touched off an acrimonious debate and confusion this afternoon in the Texas Senate.
Opponents questioned why Texas, at a time when census figures show it is becoming more and more Hispanic, would want to penalize a group that includes mostly Hispanics. They called it unfair and insulting.
But Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, the author, defended the amendment as an attempt to protect the rights of Texas taxpayers, who he said are footing the bill for education for more than 16,000 noncitizens. Read more…
By Melissa B. Taboada AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Classes on Saturday. Daily mandatory tutoring. A longer school day.
Travis and Eastside Memorial high schools, as well as a handful of the elementary and middle schools that feed into them, are taking some radical steps for traditional public schools to improve academic performance.
By imitating strategies used at various charter schools nationwide, the Austin school district hopes to break the cycle of poor academic performance . Administrators said they hope to expand the changes to more schools but lack funding. Read more…
“While our universities are making great progress, we agree with President Powers that the current model is unsustainable and further improvements are needed. Both he and the regents have called for improving quality, access and affordability, and we hope that everyone will stay focused on delivering those objectives.”
Powers’ speech to the UT campus comes amid an increasingly intense debate over the future of public higher education in Texas. Gene Powell, the chairman of the UT System board of regents, has suggested UT dramatically boost its undergraduate enrollment while slashing tuition costs in half. Some groups, including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, want UT and other universities to focus more on undergraduate teaching and less on research, especially when it’s of questionable value.
Powers never directly addressed people like Powell or the TPPF or Jeff Sandefer, the Austin oilman who’s pushing “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” for higher education. But he made his views clear: Read more…