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.
Regents have offered high level of support, By Red McCombs Read More
The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System I believe, seek a positive direction in the current controversy before the reputation of Texas is sullied by the ongoing smear campaign against them and Gov. Perry. Read More
Guaranteed tuition plans and tuition freezes are also on the agenda for the regents’ two-day meeting, which they will convene Wednesday. Read More
by Megan McArdle
Mythomania about college has turned getting a degree into an American neurosis. It’s sending parents to the poorhouse and saddling students with a backpack full of debt that doesn’t even guarantee a good job in the end. With college debt making national headlines, Megan McArdle asks, is college a bum deal?
Why are we spending so much money on college? Read More
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
- Where Will California Find Its Next Generation Of Higher Education Leaders (keptup.typepad.com)
- California budget deal could prevent tuition hikes (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Higher education cuts will undermine economy (utsandiego.com)
- What’s going on in California? (theblaze.com)
- UC proposes 20 percent tuition hike if tax fails (mercurynews.com)
- How to Teach Kids to Be Entrepreneurs, Not Followers (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- Fewer Californians attending state universities, researchers find (mercurynews.com)
- New Tactic on Tuition Freezes in California (insidehighered.com)
By Kevin Kiley
It likely won’t take the same form – the removal and reinstatement of a university president. But somewhere, sometime, probably sooner rather than later, the governing board of a public university, claiming to be acting to move the university forward and addressing 21st-century challenges, is going to make a move that upsets faculty members and other traditional university stakeholders. Read More
By GLENN DOWLING Special to The Eagle
Recent criticism leveled at the A&M Board of Regents by former A&M President Ray Bowen and loyal supporter Jon Hagler was largely justified and supported by most informed and interested readers. Clearly, political forces were at the heart of tensions between the system chancellor and A&M president which created unrest and angst within the ranks of the A&M faculty. Read More
Advocates for a moratorium on tuition increases at public universities — specifically at the University of Texas System — will attempt to deliver bags of ice to the Capitol offices of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and other key officials this afternoon as part of their “Freeze Tuition Now” campaign. Read More
By Thomas K. Lindsay
When the national study, “Academic Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” was published last year, its findings were alarming. Of the national sample of students it surveyed, 45 percent failed to show “any significant improvement in learning” after two years in college. Even after four full years in college, 36 percent still failed to show significant improvement.
At the time, we Texans held out the hope that perhaps these national statistics did not apply to our schools – certainly not to the most prestigious among them.
Alas, our hope has been dashed by a recent Washington Post story targeting the University of Texas at Austin. The Post’s interview of Richard Arum, lead author of “Adrift,” tells Texans that we are not exempt from the national crisis in collegiate learning.
“Adrift” measured student learning with the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA), on the basis of which it found that student gains in “critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills (i.e., general collegiate skills) are either exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent for a large proportion of students.”
To its credit, UT has been among the first to measure student learning through the CLA. That is the good news.
The bad news, writes the Post, is that the answer to UT’s question of how much its students are learning is “arguably, not very much.” The Post’s public-records request of UT revealed that in 2011 UT freshmen averaged a score of 1261 on the CLA, which is graded on a scale comparable to that of the SAT. But seniors, the Post reports, “fared little better than freshmen,” scoring 1303.
The Post took UT’s scores to Robert Arum for expert analysis. The “Adrift” author’s conclusion is a bitter pill for us Texans: “The [UT] seniors have spent four years there, and the scores have not gone up that much.”
In the face of such criticism, it is all too human to become defensive. To begin, even the Post concedes that, although seniors improved little over their freshmen scores, “both groups scored very well.” Is it fair, we might ask, to expect much improvement in CLA scores when students at a school like UT already score so high as freshmen?
Not only is it a fair expectation, answer the “Adrift” authors, it is an expectation met in practice by a good number of already-smart students at other equally selective colleges. And here the Post unearthed an even more unsettling statistic: “For learning gains from freshman to senior year, UT ranked in the 23rd percentile among like institutions. In other words, 77 percent of universities with similar students performed better.”
Another time-tested, defensive response would be to blame the test: “Who made the CLA the final authority on student learning?” This objection already has been laid to rest by the related research conducted by Charles Blaich and others at Wabash College. The depressingly small learning gains reported in “Adrift” (.47 standard deviations) on the CLA between freshman and senior years are replicated by Blaich’s research. The students Blaich studied “gained only 0.44 on an alternative test, ACT‘s Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP).”
This is no time for defensiveness. Rather, UT is to be commended for caring enough about student learning to be one of the first universities to institute annual CLA testing.
Let UT serve as a model for the rest of our state. The various regent boards should follow Austin’s lead and require that all our colleges and universities test their students with the CLA or CAAP. This would be a first but indispensable step toward identifying better ways to support college teaching and learning. For the sake of Texas students, the time to take that step is now.
- College Graduates in Education/Social Work Have 13.5% Unemployment, plus that “Academically Adrift” Followup Study (rortybomb.wordpress.com)
- Alumni Adrift (hollymccracken.wordpress.com)
- Is Our College Students Learning Yet? (blogs.the-american-interest.com)
- UT Austin shifts orientation focus to academics (timesoftexas.com)
- Are college students learning? (latimes.com)
- Links for March 30, 2012 (annezelenka.com)
- College Students are Unable to Think Cricitally (mindfulconsideration.wordpress.com)
- Positive student experiences is key to student success (florissantvalley.wordpress.com)
- The Real Problems in Higher Ed – By Jeff Sandefer (timesoftexas.com)
- Compelling Proof of the College Bubble (citizeneconomists.com)
Posted by Steven Harper
Last month, University of Texas President Bill Powers asked his law school dean, Larry Sager, to resign months ahead of his originally planned departure at the end of the academic year. According to the Texas Tribune, Sager’s relationship with the law school’s faculty “had become so strained that he was no longer able to serve effectively.” One source of discord, the Tribune said, was faculty compensation.
The story became more interesting with news that the law school’s foundation—a private, nonprofit group run by alums and distinguished attorneys—had given Sager a $500,000 “forgivable loan” in 2009. Things got even juicier when Powers said, “I don’t remember ever being told about the loan to Dean Sager, and that’s the sort of thing I would remember.”
He said, He said
Sager countered with his “clear memory” that Powers knew about the loan, but then distanced himself from the foundation’s action in giving it to him: “Whatever else is true about the loan, the decision was made by the president of the foundation, the executive committee of the foundation and the trustees of the foundation as a whole. I would not and could not have dictated this outcome [i.e., the $500,000 loan he received].”
So who determines compensation at the University of Texas School of Law? 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
University of Texas System Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa (l), is congratulated by UT Regents Chairman Gene Powell (r) after the UT Regents gave Cigarroa a vote of confidence on May 12, 2011.Like many at the end of this year, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Gene Powell, the chairman of the board of regents, are in a reflective mood.This week, they released a year in review — a list of 48 accomplishments from 2011, including the work of two task forces on productivity and online learning, the selection of Dr. Ronald DePinho as president of UT’s MD Anderson Cancer Center and their participation in hearings held by the Legislature’s new joint oversight committee on higher education.
In an interview with the Tribune, both men said the item on the list that gave them the most pride was the drafting of the chancellor’s framework for the system’s future, which was unanimously approved by the board in August and was the impetus for Cigarroa being invited to the White House earlier this month.
Also this week, the system unveiled a key component of that framework: a public dashboard of key performance metrics, such as graduation rates and research expenditures, at their universities. In the release, they indicated that more information would be added to the dashboard in 2012.
Both system leaders said there were less tangible accomplishments that were not included in their review. For Powell, it was the hard work of his fellow regents. “The board has been extremely focused. They’ve been dedicated and hard-working. They are sincere people who I don’t think get enough credit,” he said.
Cigarroa said he was also proud of the “engagement from the students, whose voices were so important in many of these accomplishments.”
It has not been an easy year for the UT System, which found itself at the center of a heated debate about how to go about reforming higher education. Powell said that, despite the suspicion and speculation swarming around the board in 2011, the results — in particular, Cigarroa’s framework — made it worth it.
“I think that every regent would tell you that everything that occurred this year was well worth it to get this result,” he said, adding that the year-end report was not intended to “pat people on the back.” Read More
For Bill Powers, 2011 has been a year full of upheavals.
Certain issues were foreseeable for the president of the University of Texas at Austin, the state’s largest and arguably most prestigious public university. State lawmakers were heading into a legislative session with budget axes at the ready, and nationally there were questions about the value of higher education.
Then, in early February, when he should have been testifying at the Capitol about the university’s financial needs, Powers suffered a pulmonary embolism. He was in the hospital for a week.
It was the first struggle in a year marked by high-profile battles involving Powers — to some, the university’s very own Dumbledore; to others, a particularly large bee in the bonnet of higher education reformers. 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
By Elizabeth Tice
Driven by student demand, technology, a troubled economy and roiling demographic changes, the continued growth of online and distance learning has become a force that is not only forever changing how education is delivered but will also drive economic change by preparing today’s workers for the technology-based jobs of tomorrow.
The rapid adoption and expansion of online education is closely tied to the growth of technology, the Internet and other new ways of delivering knowledge to more students beyond the previous boundaries of place, time and expense. Pioneers in online education were the early adopters of new digital technology. They created curriculum and delivery methods to meet the needs of working adults and other students who wanted to learn but needed access to education that was available on more flexible schedules.
In recent years, traditional schools have begun to add online curriculum. States are passing legislation to require high school students to take a certain number of online classes to enhance their learning. Community colleges are adding online courses both to meet student demand and to control education costs due to reduced state budgets. Read More
Who is headed to the White House today for the meeting with President Obama on college costs and productivity?
According to a representative of a higher education association, the group will include the leaders of three state university systems: Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York; Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System; and William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. Three more are drawn from public universities: Holden Thorp, chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland at Baltimore County; and F. King Alexander, president of California State University at Long Beach. One is from a community college: Thomas Snyder, president of Ivy Tech Community College, the Indiana community college system. Read More
State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has known Francisco Cigarroa since he was born. His mother is one of her best friends. His father is her physician.
But Cigarroa, the chancellor of the University of Texas System, didn’t alert Zaffirini, who leads the Senate Higher Education Committee, when a controversy erupted early this year over the direction of the system and its governing board.
“And when UT was criticized in particular, you didn’t defend UT,” Zaffirini told Cigarroa at a hearing held Friday by a special House-Senate panel. “Why not?” Read More
The Tuition Policy Advisory Committee begins its first of many regular meetings today, as it will deliberate from now through November on a tuition rate to recommend to President William Powers Jr. Powers will make his recommendation to the Board of Regents, who will then set the final tuition rate for the next two years.
According to its Oct. 12 forum, TPAC is operating under two cost-conscious directives from the UT System, which include tying any requests for an increase in tuition to four-year graduation rates and capping all tuition increases to the change in the consumer price index.
The CPI is a statistic calculated by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is a relatively basic calculation of changes in the cost of living in an area. It measures the changes in the prices of commonly purchased items and services, including coffee, cereal, gas, toys and haircuts, to determine how much more or less people have to pay to live somewhere.
Based on Texas’ CPI, the UT System determined all tuition increases will be capped at 2.6 percent.
Yet, the CPI for the United States is about 1 percent higher, a fact mentioned only as a side note at TPAC’s forum but one that has much larger consequences for the oft-side-noted one-fifth of our student population: out-of-state and international students.
The average undergraduate tuition cost for Texas residents at UT is $9,416 per year, which is the fifth lowest among the University’s peer institutions. But the average undergraduate tuition cost for non-residents, who, according to the Office of Information and Analysis, make up about 9 percent of the undergraduate population, is $31,266 per year, which is the fourth highest out-of-state rate among the same peer institutions. Read More
After the UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s speech and the UT regents blessing for his plan, we thought the UT controversy was over and progress now could be made in moving forward with positive measures. Apparently UT president Bill Powers wants to keep the fight going – all in our opinion to the detriment of the students, parents and taxpayers in an effort to continue with the status quo of rising fees.
In the article by Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune titled – “President Bill Powers: We Are a House Divided” it appears he actually does have his, “head in the sand” and his “feet dug in against change.”
Read and decide for yourself.
Update: University of Texas President Bill Powers stuck to his prepared remarks (scroll down to view), and the audience — made up mostly of UT faculty, students, and boosters — responded enthusiastically. Powers’ expressions of support for the faculty and his reference to Gov. Rick Perry‘s $10,000-degree challenge met with the biggest responses.
Original Story: University of Texas President Bill Powers isn’t mincing words in his State of the University address, scheduled for this afternoon. According to prepared remarks distributed before the speech (and subject to change), he takes head-on the controversy that has dogged the state’s higher education community for several months.
“To paraphrase Lincoln, we are a house divided about our fundamental mission and character,” he says.
In the remarks, Powers prescribes his own path to bring people back together and implement transformational changes to higher education. He also takes some thinly veiled swipes at those that have criticized the university in recent months, including Rick O’Donnell, the controversial former adviser to the University of Texas System whose hiring sparked much of the controversy.
Months after his position was unceremoniously eliminated, O’Donnell released an analysis of UT data that grouped professors into different categories based on productivity. “Dodgers” were a particularly unproductive subset of the unproductive group he termed “coasters.” This did not go over well at UT.
Powers calls for a tone that is more respectful of faculty. “The tone of discussion would take a positive turn if everyone in the UT family — even those who call for more extensive change — would publicly defend our faculty and our campus from outside attacks,” he says.
He disputes the notion that UT has its “head in the sand” or its “feet dug in against change.” He also answers Gov. Rick Perry’s challenge for universities to create a $10,000 bachelor’s degree, noting that a quarter of current freshmen — after scholarships and grants — pay less than $2,500 per year for their UT education.
Powers’ speech includes a few bold challenges of his own. Playing off remarks he made in May calling for the university to raise its four-year graduation rate to 70 percent from its current perch around 53 percent. Today, he calls for that to happen in five years. Read More
Written by Wick Allison in D Magazine
Last month I endorsed the questions Jeff Sandefer has raised about the performance of our two major public universities. In answer to those questions, UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa presented a “Framework for Advancing Excellence,” which was endorsed unanimously by the Board of Regents and praised widely by editorial writers.
The Plan is packed with words like “action items”, “goals”, “metrics”, and “responsible parties”, all designed to give the casual reader the impression that UT is serious about producing real results.
But the impression is false, because it avoids real accountability for results:
Accountability requires clear and simple goals. Here are two to consider, in place of the Plan’s seventy bullet points: First, each campus shall increase its seniors’ average scores on the Collegiate Learning Assessment by 2% each year for the next ten years (controlling for variations in the aptitudes of entering students). Second, for each year of the same period, each campus shall reduce the total instructional cost per student-hour by 3%.
Koons notes that Oxford and Cambridge, two of the finest universities in the world, require exams to measure students’ proficiency in their chosen fields. Those results are published, and the standards are public. Their plan is simple, it is objective, and it is transparent — versus a seventy-point plan that will be filed away as soon as the heat dies down.
My message to the University of Texas: no guts, no glory. Academic obfuscation accomplishes nothing, as perhaps it is meant to. A Board of Regents that is committed to taking the UT System into the top ten of American public universities would pay very close heed to what Professor Koons is telling them. Read More
In the courtyard of the UTB-owned Education and Business Complex, representatives from the Legislature, the UT System and TSC heralded the university’s establishment in 1991 and its new path to becoming an autonomous institution.
After a lively blast of music from Mariachi Escorpion, UTB President Juliet Garcia explained the symbolism behind the newly purchased 600-pound bell.
“We chose the symbolism of a bell because it was rooted in our history but also because of the role higher education must play at the very core of a democratic society,” she said.
Two decades ago UTB was established through a partnership with TSC, a partnership which now is coming to an end. The actual anniversary was Sept 1, but that was the day TSC announced its choice for a new president for the college. Read More
Written by Juan Prado
The University of Texas System Board of Regents gave final approval Aug. 25 for construction of a nearly $42.7 million Fine Arts Academic and Performance Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American.
As part of the project, existing Fine Arts Music Buildings B and C will undergo renovations. The full interior of Building C will be demolished and reconstructed and the second floor of Building B will be renovated. Both buildings will have safety and accessibility upgrades and will get new heating and cooling systems, new roofs and new interior architectural finishes.
The architectural firm for the project is Page Southerland Page from Austin, Texas.
The complex, which is expected to be close to completion by October 2014, will add a total of nearly 14,500 square feet of space for UTPA’s Fine Arts programs which will allow the University to accommodate 453 music and dance majors, up from the current enrollment of 320, and 44 faculty members, up from the current 38. Read More
Board members and Harlingen attorney Randy Whittington believe the grant could make an impact right away. Whittington stated, “It is a five year program, but it is front loaded. Almost all of the $30 million dollars will be spent in the first year. It will start right around the first of October with the planning for residency, the implementation of the simulation center and the SMART hospital. We have trained over 800 medical students at the Regional Academic Health Center and it will only grow and expand as we get the medical school.”
Board members expect the plan to provide a substantial boost in education and training for future professionals in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.
- UT – Quicker Path to Earn a Medical Degree (timesoftexas.com)
- UT Med Schools May Take Less Time (timesoftexas.com)
- Iowa presidents among select few (thegazette.com)
- Is the UT System Preparing for a New Medical School? – Higher Education | The Texas Tribune (gruntdoc.com)
Written by Liza Winkler
The Texas State University System Board of Regents discussed student tuition and fee adjustments on Aug. 18 and 19 at Sul Ross State University. The Board of Regents met to discuss raising tuition to cover additional funds that were cut by the legislature. The nine-member board oversees legal, financial, academic and communication services throughout the university and seven other colleges, including Sam Houston State University and Lamar University. Read More