The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s “seven breakthrough solutions” have been answered in countless ways since their initial unveiling: the University of Texas System released data on faculty productivity, Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl issued a detailed retort, and most recently, Liberal Arts Associate Dean Marc Musick has given UT faculty high marks in his numbers-based report.
Regardless of their varied conclusions, I am troubled by this quest to win the numbers race at the cost of excluding student success from the discourse.
In fact, graduation rates have so far been the only metric used to include students in the discussion at all. This sentiment was reiterated to me when I was asked to meet with a regent and the controversial, since-removed “special adviser” to the Board.
I had expected to share with them my own student-focused approach to higher education reform on behalf of the UT student government’s “Invest in Texas” platform. I urged them to help us keep UT safe, affordable, and competitive. I was baffled when my points were brushed aside by decidedly “seven solutions”-esque rhetoric.
It has come to this—the absolutely counterintuitive notion that students must convince legislators and the powers-that-be that the quality of our degrees matters.
Our learning and achievements have been reduced to numbers like graduation rates and professor research revenue.
But, simply stated, we are unquantifiable.
When I testified before the Senate Finance Committee last session, I told them I knew students who were becoming some of Texas’s most prominent writers, who were using their McCombs education to enhance the Texas business world, who were going to work in some of our state’s most cutting-edge laboratories, and who were even going on to work in the committee members’ offices.
In short, I told them I knew students who exemplify our motto of “What Starts Here Changes the World.”
So what chart can explain the impact we make once we’ve left the Forty Acres? The number of professional schools we attend? The companies we work for? I’m not sure anyone could have predicted that a journalism major on a track scholarship would graduate in 1977 and go on to lead the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
It seems that many have forgotten one of UT’s most exceptional qualities: its students. I can assure you, however, that the students have not forgotten that they are getting the short end of this stick.
Muneezeh Kabir is a former UT student body vice president. Photo by Corey Leamon.
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A UT regent impeachment could make other boards cautious, expert saysRalph Haurwitz | Austin American-StatesmanRichard D. Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, doesn't know Wallace Hall Jr. Or every detail of Hall's activities as a University of Texas System regent that have prompted a legislative investigation. But Legon said he knows this: "The first layer of reining in an overly aggressive board member should be the board." UT System Regent Wallace L. Hall Jr. looks on during an audit committee meeting in March. e described impeachment, which Hall could potentially face, as "the nuclear option" and said it could send a chilling signal to members of higher education governing boards.Legon, who was in Austin recently to speak to new members of state university and community college governing boards undergoing required orientation, made the comments in an interview with the American-Statesman. His Washington-based association, whose members include more than 1,250 colleges, universities and higher education foundation boards, works to strengthen and protect governing boards. The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations is in the midst of a months-long inquiry into Hall's massive requests for records from the Austin campus, his handling of confidential information that he received about students and other activities. The regent and his supporters say he has raised questions about the university's handling of records requests, political influence over admissions and a loan program for law professors.
Paredes: Meeting Goals Will Require Big Changes
Reeve Hamilton | The Texas TribuneTexas will have to do things dramatically differently if the state is to meet its higher education goals, Raymund Paredes the state commissioner said during his annual State of Higher Education address on Friday. A 15-year plan called "Closing the Gaps," which was launched in 2000 to bring the state up to parity with other large states in terms of postsecondary productivity, is coming to an end, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is working on rolling out the next longterm plan.Paredes said the state has come a long way over the last 13 years but still has a long way to go. That's where the new plan comes in.