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
The University of Texas System plans to put up $5 million to join the EdX online venture, 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 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)
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
Written by Adam Belz
Iowans’ pocketbooks will feel the pinch – and here’s why
The list of things that will be more expensive in 2012 is a long one, and Iowans will find costs increasing for necessities like medical care and food.
Overall, consumer prices leveled in November, bringing some relief at the end of 2011 — a year in which the consumer price index grew 3.3 percent in the Midwest.
But Iowans should expect moderate price increases in 2012 for most things they buy, including electricity, medical care, college tuition and fuel. Utility companies are raising rates, and food prices will likely increase faster than they have historically. Even the cost of clothing will rise, because cotton is getting more expensive.
It adds up to another pocketbook squeeze for Iowans, whose incomes have dropped in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data. Read More
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
If you want to get into the numbers and specifics, here is a post from Rick O’Donnell‘s blog yesterday. In addition, we posted some interesting comments, if you care to dig into it more.
By Rick O’Donnell
FTE is a budgeting and accounting figure but that is not what was used in the revised and corrected data released by UT System, which was used in my analysis. A teacher may count as three-fifths of a FTE for accounting purposes but they are still one person.
As my report states, it analyzed the revised and corrected data released by the UT System. It included 623 teaching assistants and we left out 118 people identified as non-instructional or incomplete data as well as the 275 separately labeled as non-instructional administrators like Powers. We also normalized full and part time teachers.
State agencies, including public universities, earn a big part of the public’s trust by being transparent and providing the public with accurate, timely information and not unintentionally or intentionally misleading the public. Maybe the provost didn’t know what numbers his university was providing the public when it released the revised and corrected faculty data, but his statement as it relates to my study is plainly inaccurate. Whatever the motive, it once again kept the university from having to actually address the fundamental question about quality and cost if a majority of the undergraduate credit hours are taught by low-ranking faculty. Read More
By Jeannie Kever firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Kimbrough has been one of the state’s key troubleshooters over the years, dispatched to overhaul a number of public agencies following reports of wrongdoing or mismanagement.
But after being named deputy chancellor and interim chancellor for the Texas A&M University System on Thursday, Kimbrough said this job is different.
“I don’t see any crisis here at all,” he said in a telephone conference call with reporters. “This is not like those other missions.”
Kimbrough, 63, said he does not want to be considered as a permanent replacement for Chancellor Mike McKinney, who resigned last month. McKinney’s last day was Thursday.
Richard Box, chairman of the board of regents, said he expects a new chancellor to be selected later this year.
But Box sidestepped a question about whether the new chancellor will come from an academic background — a key issue for faculty in light of their often rocky relationship with McKinney, a medical doctor and political operative whose blunt manner proved an uncomfortable fit with the more deliberative style of academia.
Other people are talking about the issue, however.
“I would hope they would find someone who is of the stature of the (University of Texas) chancellor (transplant surgeon Francisco Cigarroa), someone who is highly intelligent and who understands the academic arena,” said state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo and chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Someone who is committed to research universities and equally committed to the other institutions in the system.”
Normally, Kimbrough’s appointment wouldn’t have occasioned much interest outside the 11 A&M campuses. But the flagship campus in College Station has been ground zero for a contentious battle over changes in public higher education in Texas, pushed by Austin businessman Jeff Sandefer and the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and backed by Gov. Rick Perry.
The proposals — aimed at cutting the cost of a college education and favoring teaching over research — gained notoriety this spring as regents for the University of Texas system took up the charge. Read More
At the height of a controversy about the direction of the school’s governing board earlier this year, the chairman of the University of Texas System regents told a fellow regent that he felt as winded as he did during football practices decades ago under coach Darrell Royal.
“Reminds me of two-a-days in Austin in August — you never seem to catch your breath and when you do it feels like steam!” Gene Powell, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, said in an email to Regent Robert Stillwell in March.
That email and hundreds more that circulated among regents and others involved in the controversy were obtained from the UT System by the American-Statesman under the Texas Public Information Act.
The messages convey frustration on the part of some regents that they were being criticized as anti-research, as well as an intense interest among regents in gathering data from the system’s campuses on online class offerings, teacher evaluations and other matters. When those data were eventually released publicly, the system said the information was “raw” and “cannot yield accurate analysis, interpretations or conclusions.”
The emails also show that three prominent supporters of higher education wrote a strongly worded letter to Powell urging the regents to make “meaningful statements” regarding the importance of fundamental and applied research, the benefit of the dual mission of teaching and research, and the value of tenured faculty members.
Such statements are essential to address “the perception that actions are being taken that would hurt UT System schools, in particular UT-Austin,” said the letter April 1 from Kenny Jastrow, former CEO of Temple-Inland Inc. and chairman of the university’s ongoing $3 billion capital campaign; Charles Tate, a member of the University of Texas Investment Management Co.’s board; and Pam Willeford, a former chairwoman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and a former ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
The UT System is seeking approval from state Attorney General Greg Abbott for its decision to withhold an unknown number of emails and to black out portions of some that it released to the Statesman.
The Statesman will argue that the information should be made public, said Editor Fred Zipp.
The emails give a flavor of Powell’s reaction to criticism from some lawmakers, alumni and others for his hiring of a $200,000-a-year special adviser who had written that much academic research lacks value. Powell also drew criticism for suggesting in an interview with the Statesman that it might be possible to offer cut-rate degrees that he styled as Bel Air quality, a reference to a mid-level Chevrolet of a generation ago.
“I promise everyone I will be much more careful with my metaphors in the future!!!!” Powell said in a March 9 email to various UT System officials.
The adviser, Rick O’Donnell, was dismissed April 19 after accusing top UT System and UT-Austin officials of suppressing information on faculty members’ productivity. O’Donnell and the system reached a settlement Friday under which he agreed not to sue the system in exchange for $70,000 and a glowing letter about his work from Powell.
In a March 14 email to O’Donnell, Powell said the “loyal opposition” is “telling anyone that will listen that you will be making policy and you have been hired to fire the Chancellor, fire the president of UT Austin and to take over the System.” Read More
By Weston Hicks
An avowed ally of controlling university tuition costs, Representative Dan Branch (R) has nevertheless given mixed signals concerning the UT Higher Ed controversy. Branch co chairs the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence, and Transparency.
It’s unlikely he’ll spend political capital on liberal Democrat Senator Judith Zaffirini’s one woman conspiracy crusade against accountability in higher ed, especially given his own commitment to controlling tuition costs. Given growing suspicions among Republican voters that words and actions don’t match up in some politicians, Branch would do well to make his position harder to mistake. Read More
Crossfire in Fat City. An exchange in response.
In what he imagines to be a searing expose of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and public employment generally, David Rubinstein has come up with a new way of turning a personal failure and an ideological hobby horse into an indictment of everybody else: “I took advantage of the system for years. You could have too, so there is something wrong with the system, not with me.” Perhaps some of the politicians who have recently had to admit to extramarital affairs might try mounting the same defense.
As three department heads who successively supervised Rubinstein during the last two decades of his career, we feel just as embarrassed and betrayed as a spouse would be if a partner admitted to abusing her trust, and then attacked her for letting him get away with it.
Now that he is securely retired, Rubinstein admits that he didn’t keep up his scientific research or act with integrity as a teacher. He didn’t care that his lectures and course materials were timely and top-notch, but instead simply lectured from old and out of date notes. He didn’t pour his time and energy into the development of doctoral students, the creation of our next generation of scholars. And he has the gall to use his own dereliction of duty to further his ideological attack on academia. Worse yet, through innuendo and cherry picked statistical factoids, he denigrates the work of public sector employees from janitors to judges.
Zaffirini chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee and, along with Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the recently established Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency.
The joint panel will conduct a lengthy and thorough examination of governance, policymaking and other matters, she said in an interview. Its first report is due in January 2013.
Zaffirini said she expects the spotlight to remain on governing boards, especially that of the University of Texas System, for four to six years. That would be long enough to include Gov. Rick Perry’s current term in office and the term of some of his recent appointees to the UT board, she said. Read More
By VIMAL PATEL
Top Texas A&M System leaders have repeatedly said the idea for a program that gives teachers cash based on anonymous student evaluations did not come from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative Austin think tank.
“They got it from me,” said Chancellor Mike McKinney, who said in an interview earlier this year that he modeled the program — which has become a symbol of political interference in the university — on a similar one at the University of Oklahoma.
McKinney’s statement regarding the origins of the controversial program is not necessarily untrue, but it doesn’t tell the whole picture. 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
A push to root out ‘waste’ at public universities in Texas using quantitative metrics – including research grants – to assess faculty performance is making its way across the state. But academics are warning that this could make recruiting staff at these universities much more difficult.
The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) has begun investigating faculty efficiency at the Univerity of Texas (UT), which is a network of nine academic universities and six health institutions. CCAP – which purports to target the ‘rising costs and stagnant efficiency’ in higher education – released a report on 24 May that found 20 per cent of UT-Austin staff receive nearly all of its research grants. The report also claims that the worst performing 20 per cent of staff teach just 2 per cent of all lecture hours. CCAP also concluded that just 2 per cent of the faculty conducts 57 percent of its funded research. Its analysis was derived from a preliminary UT report released in May.
Back in September, faculty members at the Texas A&M University (TAMU) system – a network of 11 universities and seven state agencies – were disturbed after university leadership released an internal report detailing how much money each faculty member brought in during the previous academic year.
It was understood that TAMU planned to subtract each professor’s salary from teaching and research grants, and many believed that the effort was part of the broader agenda of a group called the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), which has links with CCAP. That organisation, with its stated aims of promoting ‘free markets and limited government,’ has publicly questioned whether academic research is a good investment for Texas. Read More
The big lie making the rounds in Texas is that elected or appointed officials want to undermine or de-emphasize research at our colleges and universities
By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Rick Perry had been governor of Texas for all of 13 days when he announced in January 2001 that higher education would be his top legislative priority. He called for voucher-style funding, an expansion of online learning and a dramatic increase in student financial aid.
More than 10 years later, reinventing public higher education remains a work in progress for the state’s longest-serving governor.
That effort has taken an unusual turn lately, with prominent alumni, donors, business leaders and university officials questioning Perry’s initiatives and those of his appointees to university governing boards. The governor, for his part, has accused critics, whom he did not name, of lying.
“The big lie making the rounds in Texas is that elected or appointed officials want to undermine or de-emphasize research at our colleges and universities,” Perry wrote in a recent column in the American-Statesman. “That disinformation campaign is nothing more than an attempt to shut down an open discussion about ways to improve our state universities and make them more effective, accountable, affordable and transparent.” Read More
The university should also have to release complete information on all higher ed research budgets.
In my humble opinion (which counts for a little more now that I’m a Texas citizen), salaries are only the beginning. The university should also have to release complete information on all research budgets. Texas faculty know that if the people see how little return they’re getting on all this public research “investment” — and that the students are getting short changed in the process — they will be appalled – and one of the greatest frauds perpetrated against the people of Texas will have been exposed.
But this is likely to to be true not just in Texas, but in every state of the Union. As the costs of higher education continue to spiral out of control, people want to know what they’re paying for. And they deserve to know. (Boy, if they only knew.)
Texas is going through a painful reduction of state aid to local schools, but an innovative proposal could solve the problem without hiking up taxes.
By JOHN FUND
Texas is going through a painful reduction of state aid to local schools, the result of the recession and plunging revenues. The state will be cutting the amount it spends per student by 5% to 11%, forcing some schools to end pre-kindergarten programs, technology purchases and mentoring programs. But there is a possible solution that doesn’t involve hiking job-killing taxes. Half of the cuts could be made up by an innovative proposal that is before the Texas legislature right now.
It’s called the Taxpayers’ Savings Grant, and it would provide grants of up to $5,143 or the cost of private school tuition, whichever is less, for every Texas child who moved from a public school to a private school. Those eligible would be parents whose children are entering either kindergarten or first grade, and those with kids who have been in public schools for at least one year. The plan has significant support from state legislators and some school principals. Read More
Beginning with Answers to Their Questions.
By Ronald L. Trowbridge
The debate on higher education reform has become a firestorm. The reason for the controversy is that, as with any debate, valid arguments exist on both sides. How, then, should the issue be resolved?
The first consideration%3A Is there in fact a problem with the status quo? The recent study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity reveals an unacceptable disparity. Of the roughly 4,200 faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin, the
840 most productive teachers teach an extraordinary 57 percent of all student credit hours, while the least productive 840 members teach only 2 percent of all student credit hours. Why?
One thing is certain: Reform will never come from within the university. Derek Bok, president of Harvard for 20 years, tells us why: “In theory, presidents and deans are supposed to counteract self-interested behavior to make sure that the legitimate needs of students are properly addressed.
“In practice, however, academic leaders often fail to fulfill this responsibility,” he continued. Read More
Before the University of Texas System released an 821-page draft document showing faculty members’ salaries, research expenditures and total numbers of students taught, among other pieces of data, Dean Neikirk, the chair of the University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council, sent a note to his colleagues.
“It is likely that within a very short time various web pages will offer an ‘analysis’ of individual faculty ‘productivity,’” he warned. “Most, if not all, of this information was already available, but the ‘convenience’ of the release will no doubt invite a variety of interpretations.” Read More
By HOLLY K. HACKER
The studies — one examining the University of Texas at Austin , the other highlighting Texas A&M University — come during intense academic and political debate over the mission and performance of the state’s flagship public universities.
The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit research group, found that only a small portion of UT-Austin faculty teach the majority of classes. Some faculty do almost no teaching, nor do they bring in many outside research dollars.
“There is clearly room for improvement in terms of faculty productivity,” Richard Vedder, the center’s director and an Ohio University economist, said in a statement. “Simply by having faculty teach more students or courses, students and taxpayers will benefit significantly by reduced university costs.” Read More
Texas A&M has yet to announce replacement for chancellor
The date of a high-profile Victoria meeting of two Texas chancellors and state legislators remains unclear.
When Rep. Dan Branch called for the meeting, the Dallas Republican asked the group to meet here in June. As of Saturday, no official date had been set, the Advocate confirmed.
Branch serves as chairman of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education. In late April, he asked the Texas A&M University and University of Houston system chancellors to meet, in part, with Victoria’s state representative and senator. 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 William Lutz
Powers announced change tenured professors can believe in
UT President William Powers Jr. gave an unusual live address to the UT community Monday. His talk was officially billed as an update on the final days of the legislative session, and his message was that UT is all for change and reform — as long as that change and reform doesn’t disturb the status quo or trample on any academic sacred cows (such as teaching loads).
In short, it was an attempt to mask resistance to change using the rhetoric of change and reform. It’s main goal is to stop education reform ideas promoted by Gov. Rick Perry and recent appointees to the UT System Board of Regents dead in their tracks.
Basically, Powers is arguing that the University of Texas is not immune from change and in fact is changing. He then launched into a passionate defense of academic research. Basically, Powers is hoping Republican lawmakers check conservative principles at the door, and instead opt for his brand of Hope and Change. Read More
By Mary Tuma
Full report expected in August
Brenda Pejovich, UT Regent
University of Texas System Regents received an update on the task force for “University Excellence and Productivity” led by UT Regent Brenda Pejovich. While a full report is not expected until August, Pejovich summed up the group’s progress over its six meetings since forming in February.
The update followed the presentation of a framework to increase accountability and transparency at the UT System’s institutions, introduced by Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, who received a unanimous show of support from regents.
Pejovich, a board member of conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, said her task force focused on furthering research and teaching missions, identifying ‘best practices,’ and implementing the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s ‘cost efficiency’ report – seven key actions spurred by a 2009 directive from Gov. Rick Perry. Read More
By Melissa Ludwig
University of Texas System regents on Thursday issued a unanimous vote of confidence in its CEO, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, in an attempt to sooth recent turmoil at the system and answer rumors that Cigarroa’s job was in jeopardy because he would not toe the line of conservative regents pushing for dramatic change.
In that vote, regents also agreed to support Cigarroa’s new framework for measuring success and accountability at the system’s 15 campuses.
Before the vote, Steve Hicks, a regent from Austin, asked for a roll call to see where each of his fellow regents stood.
“Now is the time to get fully behind our chancellor … not to micromanage his affairs,” Hicks said. “Today, we have the opportunity to beginning earning back the trust of our constituency.” Read More
Senate Bill 5, authored by Judith Zaffirini (D) has poison pills buried within, designed to decrease transparency and accountability in higher education spending. The stated purpose of the bill is to control education costs.
This is Zaffirini’s own statement of intent for SB 5: “C.S.S.B. 5 is designed to facilitate efficient operations, reduce institutional costs, and provide administrative flexibility to institutions of higher education. This is particularly important in the current budget climate in which institutions are being asked to do more with less.”
However, buried in her bill is language that would eliminate numerous reporting requirements, cloaking higher education spending activity in even more darkness than it currently enjoys. Read More
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
This afternoon, the University of Texas System released much-anticipated data on faculty “productivity” — noting, however, that the 821-page spreadsheet is in a raw draft form that has not been fully verified and “cannot yield accurate analysis, interpretations or conclusions.”
The information in the spreadsheet, which includes professors’ total compensation, tenure status and total course enrollment, was compiled at the request of the UT System Board of Regents‘ recently formed task force on productivity and excellence. That task force is chaired by Regent Brenda Pejovich, who is on the board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank.
The TPPF, along with the office of Gov. Rick Perry, have encouraged university systems to compile such data as one part of a set of “breakthrough solutions” for higher education that they debuted in 2008. Recently, this effort — and resistance to it from some in the higher ed orbit — has become a topic of discussion and debate in the media and around the legislature. Read More