Here you have it. The words straight from The Chairman; Gene Powell. I an excellent interview by Jake Silverstein of the Texas Monthly the Chairman expressed his thoughts on Higher education, the UT controversy, and how MOOCS are changing the face of America. A good read without the usual biased negative media slant on the regents.
By Jon Marcus Who’s boss? US governing bodies flex their muscles
Virginia president keeps her job, but once-inert boards are stirring nationwide. Read More
Editorial Board Statesman
For decades, the courts have tried to settle the use of race in university admissions only to find that when they grant satisfaction in one case, dissatisfaction arises to create another. Read More
A group of students taking their cues from the Occupy movement wants the University of Texas System regents to know they won’t take tuition increases without a fight.
At a meeting in front of UT’s iconic tower tonight, the students will settle on a final version of a protest document they hope sparks a larger pushback against the growing cost of higher education.
If 2011 was a rough year for higher education, and UT in particular, the burgeoning Occupy UT group — which takes its name and inspiration from the worldwide phenomenon that began last year — might be an indication that 2012 may not be any easier. One assured flashpoint: how and how high tuition is set.
Forces on both the left and right of the political spectrum are already preparing for battle.
Toward the end of 2011, UT President Bill Powers concurred with recommendations from the university’s Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, made up of students, faculty and administrators, to ask the University of Texas System Board of Regents to increase tuition by 2.6 percent each of the next two years. That’s the maximum the regents, who will make the final tuition decision later this year, said they’d allow. Read More
Students are shocked by the quickly rising cost of tuition, said government junior Adrian Reyna.
On Monday, the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee proposed the largest tuition increase allowed over the next two academic years. If the TPAC proposal is implemented by the UT System Board of Regents, in-state undergraduate tuition could increase 2.6 percent each year, meaning $127 more per semester in 2012-13 and $131 more each semester in 2013-14 for full-time students. In addition, out-of-state undergraduate and graduate tuition rates would increase by 3.6 percent each year, meaning $550 more per semester in 2012-13 and $650 per semester in 2013-14 for full-time students.
This increase in tuition runs counter to the University’s objective to increase four-year graduation rates, stated as a primary objective in President William Powers Jr.’s address to the University earlier this year, Reyna said.
“Many of my friends couldn’t come back because they couldn’t pay their loans or get enough scholarships,” Reyna said. “It’s very sad to see adequate students who could have graduated leave for money reasons.”
Students have left and returned to the University only after becoming able to pay for tuition, such as linguistics junior Ian Merritt, a Louisiana native who took a year off to establish residency and work full-time. Read More
AUSTIN — Texas students planning on attending a state university next year should get ready to dig deeper into their pockets for that education.
Several of the state’s universities — including the University of Texas at El Paso — are expected to propose tuition hikes for the coming biennium after state lawmakers slashed higher education funding by nearly $1 billion to help close a $27 billion shortfall.
UTEP next week will be among the state institutions that will submit plans to their governing boards asking for permission to raise tuition by up to 2.6 percent for undergraduates and 3.6 percent for out-of-state and graduate students for each of the next two years. Read More
While you were away from Austin this summer, President William Powers Jr. set new goals for UT. He shifted from seeking money to finance the ever-escalating cost of college in the pattern of the past and explained to us that UT must change itself to make college affordable in the future.
Remarkably, Powers effected this reorientation amid belt-tightening made necessary by the recession and the state balanced-budget requirement. While the recession concentrated attention on fiscal matters, Powers’ redirection does much more than shave costs from doing things in old ways.
The underlying problem, of course, is that higher education is labor-intensive, and since the invention of the book and movable type, it has not found ways to add capital to improve productivity. Historically, we have raised salaries to match what is paid beyond our ivy walls where productivity has increased. The resulting ever-escalating costs of higher education are unsustainable, and it seems we have reached the limits of what the Legislature and families can pay.
While the Legislature will support larger enrollments due to a growing Texas population and the greater rate at which Texans attend college, it will no longer pay more to teach the present college population with present methods just because productivity has increased elsewhere. Families, too, have reached the limits of what they can pay. Today, it costs about one-fourth of median family income to send one Texas resident to a four-year public university for one year. We risk limiting higher education to the rich.
The shift in Powers’ thinking from more state aid and higher tuition to changes in the form of college is dramatic. In his 2008 Report on Tuition, Powers sought to justify increases in tuition and state support because, as he reported, the costs of instruction at UT since 1990 had risen at an annual rate of 2.8 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System has recognized 72 faculty members from institutions within the system for outstanding teaching, including 34 faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin.
The educators from the 15 institutions will be honored as the 2011 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award winners during a ceremony on The University of Texas at Austin campus Wednesday, Aug. 24. They will share $1.8 million in awards.
The cash awards, which range from $15,000 to $30,000 – and believed to be among the nation’s highest for higher education faculty – are given to faculty members at UT System academic institutions who demonstrate extraordinary classroom performance and innovation at the undergraduate level. The event will mark the program’s third year.
“Today the Board of Regents considers it a true honor and privilege to recognize another class of great educators from across the University of Texas System with not only a ceremonial event but with much deserved financial rewards,” said Regents Chairman Gene Powell. “The Board is committed to continuing the process of seeking out, hiring and rewarding great teachers and the Board looks forward to holding these ceremonies for many years to come.” Read More
As we reported several days ago, the Twitter accounts of a small group of conservative activists in Austin, including Michael Quinn Sullivan, the president of Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, were abruptly suspended on July 18. Today they were restored, and one of those affected explained what happened.
In a post on the conservative commentary site AgendaWise, whose writers also had their accounts suspended, blogger Weston Hicks confirmed rumors making their way around the Capitol that it all started with Daniel Greer, the former Empower Texans employee who recently launched AgendaWise and shares office space with Sullivan’s group.
Earlier this month, Hicks wrote, Greer registered Twitter accounts that he correctly surmised NPR intended to acquire for its nascent StateImpact project, which provides in-depth coverage of state government in places like Pennsylvania and Indiana and Ohio. The project, which employs former Texas Tribune staffers Elise Hu and Matt Stiles, will soon expand to Texas in partnership with Austin’s public radio station, KUT (a Texas Tribune content partner). The standard style for StateImpact’s local Twitter handles is @StateImpact followed by the abbreviated name of the state — say, @StateImpactPA. Greer scooped up handles for states where the project was not yet in operation, such as @StateImpactME for Maine.
Twitter’s rules prohibit, among other things, “username squatting,” which includes “creating accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names.” That alone — ignoring, for example, other rules that prohibit creating “serial accounts for disruptive or abusive purposes” — would seem to make a strong case that his actions violated Twitter’s terms of service. Read More
We thought this was a good story, but we thought it misinformed for the subject to suggest “It appears to me that someone, for some reason, is manufacturing a crisis.” – referring to university costs and management.
Crushing student debt and escalating fees are not a manufactured crisis. There is a real crisis, and the public deserves to understand why, learn of solutions and then demand our leaders take action. Read on.
By Melissa Ludwig
Take roll. Make advising mandatory. Tell students they must visit during faculty office hours. Raise admission standards.
In the midst of an ugly political spat over productivity and the cost of higher education in Texas, Paredes said the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board stands ready with a host of evidence-based reforms.
“We need to reinvent public higher education. The current model is clearly unsustainable,” Paredes said. “There are a lot of things we can do. We have identified practices that improve outcomes but don’t cost anything.”
Few would argue that public higher education in Texas must become more efficient to thrive in a changing economy. But the scale of the problem, what must be done and who will lead the way still are prickly topics.
“I am somewhat confused with the argument that … the university is broke and needs fixing,” said Kathryn Bell McKenzie, an education professor at Texas A&M, addressing the regents. “This just does not align with my experience. It appears to me that someone, for some reason, is manufacturing a crisis.”
The turmoil began a few months ago, when news reports exposed internal emails showing Gov. Rick Perry had been pressuring university regents across the state to implement dramatic reforms contained in the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions,” a treatise by a wealthy Austin entrepreneur named Jeff Sandefer which was promoted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative Austin think-tank. Read More
The people who manage $27.5 billion in higher education endowments and other assets for the University of Texas System Board of Regents say they have concerns about a host of financial and geopolitical developments.
Lately, they’ve been fretting about the potential for an “emerging-market bubble pop.” That’s investment-speak for a sense that stocks in some developing countries, particularly China, are becoming overvalued and could be headed for a fall.
The University of Texas Investment Management Co. employs a variety of strategies to mitigate the financial fallout from such occurrences, officials said Thursday at a meeting of the company’s board of directors in Austin.
For one thing, said CEO Bruce Zimmerman, the company doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket. It has substantial holdings in credit-related fixed income, investment-grade fixed income, real estate, developed-country stocks, private equity, hedge funds and even gold, the last stored in a basement vault in New York. Read More
By Melissa Ludwig
Lazy professor, beware.
Your time delivering droning lectures and writing overwrought articles for obscure journals draws nigh. A posse of free-market thinkers led by a conservative Austin think tank wants to hold higher education accountable by weeding out or whipping into shape bad teachers and unproductive researchers.
But how do you corner these elusive creatures? Peers characterize the lazy professor as a rare species, quietly culled from the herd before earning tenure.
Critics believe they are far more common, and can be exposed by crunching numbers on teaching loads, research grants and student evaluations. Some would like to do away with tenure, reasoning that professors would work harder if their contract came up every few years. Others, including Gov. Rick Perry, have suggested professors stick to research that “delivers real dollars.” Read More
Unemployed graduates may be better off staying in Austin after a new report shows the city is No. 1 in professional opportunities for young adults.
Business Journals, which oversees the Austin Business Journal and other publications around the country, gave Austin top marks in a number of criteria that showed a good job market for people in their 20s and 30s. Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth also made the list of top 10 cities, coming in at No. 2 and No. 5, respectively.
Austin offers various employment options for both men and women, along with a moderate cost of living according to the journal. Texas stood out because of strong growth rates and the range of young adults who are college-educated and employed, the report said.
Austin has a lower unemployment rate because it thrives on the “newness” of its economic base, which is less impacted by globalization or outflow of capital investment, said urban studies assistant professor Ipsita Chatterjee in an email. Austin and other cities in Texas fall within the model of a “new economy city,” meaning they are not based on manufacturing, Chatterjee said.
“Urban centers heavily dependent on manufacturing and/or finance have been more impacted by the economic crisis,” Chatterjee said. “However, Texas’ economy is fragile at the moment and the desire to promote a friendly and free business climate by depending largely on sales taxes is exposing the weakness of the economy.”
Lecturer Eliot Trettor from the Urban Studies program said even though the University and government have experienced cuts every year for the past few years, other sectors in the Austin economy are growing. Read More
By Mike Ward
Rejecting charges that a GOP plan to redraw congressional district boundaries discriminates against minorities and punishes Austin, the Texas House tentatively approved the measure Tuesday by a 93-48 vote.
The new map in a revised Senate Bill 4 divides Travis County into five districts, like a plan approved earlier by the Senate. Travis County is currently in three districts.
Several amendments were offered to redraw the map to add more “opportunity districts” for African American and Hispanic voters, and some would have put Travis County in two congressional districts. All failed to be adopted.
On the final vote, Travis County’s delegation split along party lines, with Republican Paul Workman voting yes and Democrats Dawnna Dukes, Donna Howard, Elliot Naishtat and Eddie Rodriguez voting no. Democrat Mark Strama was present, not voting.
Despite the criticism, House Redistricting Committee Chairman Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, said the plan is the fairest that could be drawn and will serve Texas well for the next 10 years. Read More
The measure also allows the education commissioner to consider budget cuts in allowing larger class sizes in some schools. The bill now goes back to the Senate to consider amendments added by the House on Thursday.
Lawmakers have slashed public school spending in order to balance the state budget without raising taxes or spending the Rainy Day Fund. The proposed law is designed to help school districts adjust to lower per-student funding.
Opponents claim that it allows school districts to mistreat teachers. Supporters say the measure is necessary under the current economic situation and will expire when school funding returns to 2010-2011 levels. Read More
officials changed Johnston High School‘s name, redesigned its approach to teaching the curriculum and were required to replace more than three-quarters of its faculty, but it appears the campus, which has struggled for years to meet state academic standards, again will rank among Austin‘s most troubled schools.
More than 29 percent of students at what’s now Eastside Memorial Green Tech High School at the Johnston Campus will be ineligible to graduate next week after failing state-mandated exit exams. Read More
Recently released preliminary data from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin strongly suggest that the state of Texas could move toward making college more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching. Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half, says the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.
Other highlights of the study: Read More
Filibuster by Senate Democrats Extends Budget Battle, Delaying Governor’s Consideration of a Possible White House Bid
By LESLIE EATON
A filibuster by Senate Democrats before the end of the 2011 legislative session on Monday derailed a $15 billion, two-year cut in state spending backed by the governor and forced him to call a special session that started Tuesday.
As for his possible presidential ambitions, which he had floated Friday, Mr. Perry told reporters Tuesday afternoon, “Talk to me after the session is over with.”
Smooth passage of the budget, which had been hailed by conservatives as containing the first overall spending cuts in half a century, would have been an extra presidential selling point for Mr. Perry, adding “fiscal conservative” to his tea-party bona fides as an advocate for states’ rights. But Democrats had balked at a $4 billion cut in aid to local school districts, and predicted on Monday that voters would eventually be angered by the size of the cuts, which would top 3% next year and almost 6% the following year.
Republicans, who have a large majority in the legislature and plan to use special-session rules to bar any filibuster, are likely to approve the cuts—and move on to other agenda items. Read More
By Harvest Moon
This month the University of Texas System released 821 pages of “productivity” data for all faculty members and graduate assistants employed at the nine academic campuses that make up the UT System. As an adjunct lecturer for UT- Arlington, I am listed, along with my dear friends and colleagues in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, on pages 91 through 93. We are sorted alphabetically, our names stacked one atop the other much like our mailboxes in the departmental office, and beside each is information about teaching loads, external research funding, cumulative grade-point averages, and compensation received in the form of salaries and benefits.
In public conversations, those taking place in print and online media, it is the report itself, rather than its content, that is at the center of the controversy. Publication of detailed information about the professional activities of those employed in postsecondary education has reignited long-running debates about the often conflicting ideals of individual privacy and institutional transparency, the relative values of teaching and research, and the meaning of and purpose of academic freedom. Read More
Modest improvements in faculty productivity could allow for substantial tuition reductions without threatening tenure or affecting externally funded research
AUSTIN – Modest increases in teaching loads at the University of Texas at Austin would produce hundreds of millions of dollars in savings to taxpayers and students, according to a preliminary analysis of faculty data released today by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP).
“These findings bring to light very real opportunities to provide a better education to students at vastly lower costs while preserving UT-Austin’s ability to conduct world-class research,” said David Guenthner, the Foundation’s senior communications director. “The data conclusively demonstrates that there is room for a greater emphasis on classroom instruction, while preserving UT-Austin’s prized Tier One status.”
Joel Trammell and Larry Warnock, Local Contributors
There. We said it.
Let’s be clear. Austin has an abundance of so many things. It is absolutely the best place to live. In fact, many tech leaders will tell you they start their companies here because they like living in Austin. Our city is full of creative, talented people.
But for the 100 technology CEOs gathered Thursday by the Austin Technology Council at the 2011 CEO Summit, talent was a significant topic. While discussing how the industry can solidify Austin’s place as a top market for technology, local CEOs shared their concerns about the shortage of engineering talent. The overwhelming majority of leaders said they need engineers, computer scientists, programmers and developers to accelerate Austin’s growth in the industry.
On Thursday, 100 tech CEOs spent the day discussing three core issues: two based on recruiting and training engineering talent. We know when it comes to building a leading technology center, markets with the most talent win. In this industry, engineers create intellectual property that create jobs and ultimately, ignite regional economies. Read More
AUSTIN — Want to lower the cost of college? End all federal subsidies for higher education.
That was the provocative solution proffered at a panel discussion Friday put on by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative Austin think tank whose “Seven Breakthrough Solutions” for higher education have created a firestorm of controversy within the Texas A&M University and University of Texas Systems.
Neal McCluskey, a free-market advocate with the Cato Institute, said federal student aid such as Pell grants and research grants drive up costs, stifle competition and make students and universities less price-sensitive.
“If you are using your own money, you demand a good product,” McCluskey said. “You professors need to be teaching me something, not doing research or sitting in your office not doing office hours.” Read More
By Mike Ward
That plan is reminiscent of one proposed in 2003 for U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to represent areas stretching as far south as McAllen. That district was later changed as part of a larger tweaking of districts ordered by the courts.
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
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
Entrepreneurs from 16 startups based on research at the University of Texas promoted their companies to investors Wednesday, kicking off the Texas Venture Week event sponsored by the McCombs School of Business.
The companies represented a range of industries, including nanotechnology, online learning and wireless technology. Read More
I had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Jeff Sandefer speak last week in Texas, and if you’re concerned about education, you might be interested in his foreword to a new book entitled Unschooling Rules.
Like Jeff Sandefer, most of us know something is wrong with education here at home, yet, we continue to look to the “educrats” to solve the problem and it just ain’t happening.
Here’s something from the Unschooling Rules blog: Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — A new partnership between researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University has been created to help improve teaching and learning through educational innovation and technology.
Steven W. Leslie, executive vice president and provost at The University of Texas at Austin, said the partnership brings together top educational researchers from the Mazur Group at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Department of Physics with educational innovators from The University of Texas at Austin. They will lead the implementation and dissemination of cutting-edge, evidence-based, interactive strategies of instruction that leverage educational technology to improve student learning and success. The primary vehicle for the collaboration will be the university’s new Course Transformation Program, a state-of-the-art effort to advance pedagogical innovation, effective teaching and student success in general education courses. Read More
AUSTIN, Texas, PRNewswire
National Instruments (Nasdaq: NATI) today introduced LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS, a new education-focused version of the company’s professional LabVIEW graphical system design software. Developed specifically for secondary school students to use with the LEGO Education robotics platform in classrooms or competitions, LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS is a teaching tool that helps students visually control and program MINDSTORMS NXT robots, while learning the same software used by scientists and engineers. The high-school-focused programming environment joins the already successful line of LEGO Education robotics platforms, which includes LEGO Education WeDo™ software for elementary students and LEGO MINDSTORMS Education NXT software for middle school students. Read More
Rick O’Donnell Says He’s Been Fired, (for Doing His Job)
Controversial Adviser to U. of Texas Regents Says He’s Been Fired
By Katherine Mangan
Rick O’Donnell‘s hiring six weeks ago as a special adviser to the University of Texas System Board of Regents caused a firestorm of controversy when his views about university research were aired. On Tuesday, he was apparently fired after he accused system officials of suppressing data that would show that an increasing amount of public money is being spent on professors and administrators who do little teaching.
In an e-mail to reporters late Tuesday, Mr. O’Donnell said the system’s chancellor, Francisco G. Cigarroa, had informed him that though his work was appreciated, his employment with the University of Texas was terminated effective immediately.
Mr. O’Donnell, a former executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, had made no secret of his skepticism about the work being done in universities. In 2008, he wrote a paper for a conservative think tank questioning the value of much of the research conducted in universities. He also worked for three years for Jeff Sandefer, a business educator and major donor to Rick Perry, Texas‘ governor. Both Mr. Sandefer and the governor, a Republican, have been pressuring universities to focus more on teaching and less on research.
On Monday, Mr. O’Donnell wrote a letter to Wallace L. Hall Jr., a Texas regent, in which he said that, as part of his job with the regents, he asked university and system officials for data “that would inform task forces how student dollars and taxpayer money were being spent.” He said the university system refused to release the data, which he said would have shown that a growing amount of public money is going toward professors and administrators who do little teaching.
The University of Texas system and the flagship campus in Austin released a joint statement on Tuesday denying that the university is suppressing the data Mr. O’Donnell was seeking.
The statement said that a special system committee on productivity and excellence is gathering data on how tuition dollars and taxpayer money are being spent, and that the data is in a raw, draft format.
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Gov. Rick Perry today took the oath of office for his third full term as Texas’ 47th governor. In his inaugural address, the governor celebrated the priorities that have helped make Texas the best state to live, work and raise a family, and committed to strengthening those principles to ensure the Lone Star State’s future remains prosperous.
“Throughout our history, in good times and bad, Texans have endured by identifying opportunities, counting the cost and outworking their competitors in the race for success,” Gov. Perry said. “As we plant the seeds of opportunity that bloom beyond our years, we will show the world the endless possibilities of freedom and free enterprise, and make this century the Texas century.”