Eagle, Express-News Blast Perry Over A&M
B-CS Eagle critiques Perry’s ‘obsession and interference’ with university
The editorial boards of the Bryan-College Station Eagle and San Antonio Express-News are taking on Gov. Rick Perry for meddling in the affairs of Texas A&M University, accusing him of harming the institution. The Eagle’s critique was particularly scathing, saying that Perry’s “obsession and interference in A&M” has caused “damage some observers feel could take a generation to undo.”
Citing the Dallas Morning News, the Express-News criticized Perry for forcing Chancellor Mike McKinney into early retirement: “Will the governor use this as an opportunity to put in place a “yes” man who he can control from Austin? We hope not. There needs to be an independent national search for a new chancellor for the A&M University System. An appointee with political ties to the governor could spell disaster on several fronts.”
Meanwhile, more than 700 A&M faculty members have signed an online letter delivered to Board of Regents Chairman Richard Box, asking regents to address how controversial reforms, backed by Perry and proposed by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, will help A&M. The professors requested that the issue be addressed at the board of regents meeting Thursday. In closed session, the group also will discuss replacing McKinney. Emails, along with anonymous sources who have spoken with McKinney, indicate he was pushed out for resisting some of the aforementioned proposals. Read more about the board of regents’ agenda for this week in the Eagle.
The Eagle editorial board said that the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” are an example of harmful political meddling on the part of the governor:
“From his appointment of regents with greater fealty to him than to the university system they are supposed to represent to his constant meddling in the day-to-day operations of the flagship university to his infatuation with the Texas Public Policy Foundation — an ultraconservative think tank that seeks to insinuate itself into every corner of state government — Perry has proven not to be a friend of A&M, but rather a hindrance. Never before has a governor of Texas had such deadly influence on a major state university, and Perry’s meddling blocks the way of A&M’s oft-stated efforts to achieve greatness.
At closer examination, the “breakthrough” solutions are an affront to A&M and all the other Texas universities that work hard to prepare our young people for the future. They should be rejected outright. Politicians such as Rick Perry should not be running our colleges and universities.
A college education is increasingly expensive, due in large part because politicians such as Perry have shirked their responsibility to provide adequate state support to our universities.
Perry has been in thrall to the Texas Public Policy Foundation and its backers since he began accepting generous contributions from them in his first statewide race. Texas cannot, however, be run by contribution and those most able to spend big bucks to help buy elections, no matter which side of the political spectrum they are on.”
This isn’t the first time that Perry’s been called on the carpet by the Eagle, the hometown newspaper for A&M’s flagship campus.
In 2010, the Eagle endorsed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison over Perry in the GOP Primary and former Houston Mayor Bill White over Perry in the general election.
In its endorsement of Hutchison, the Eagle editorial board wrote:
“While most of [Perry's] appointees are well-qualified, many owe intense loyalty to Perry and not to the board or institution they serve. A prime example is Texas A&M University, where Perry’s meddling has left the university wounded and floundering. Its reputation in the academic community is in free-fall and it likely will take years to return to the stature it once enjoyed.”
In its endorsement of White, the Eagle editorial board wrote:
“Perry for the most part has ignored other Texas universities, preferring to focus — harmfully — on his alma mater, Texas A&M. He has packed the administration and the Board of Regents with political cronies to the detriment of the university. His meddling has brought faculty and staff morale to a low unseen in decades. Because of the governor’s interference, A&M’s reputation as a first-class university is eroding and there is grave danger that the school will be unable to attract the best faculty in the future. Why any Brazos County voter, why any loyal Aggie would vote for Rick Perry is beyond us.”