Higher Ed Reform Needs a Student Focus, Young Alum Says

November 15, 2011
Muneezeh Kabir | The Alcalde

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 thisthe 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.

Signup for Updates:

Latest Updates

  • Matthew McConaughey, Earl Campbell among UT-Austin alums honored by Texas Exes

     

    The University of Texas recognized a handful of its standout graduates and their professional accomplishments Friday night with Distinguished Alumnus Awards. This year’s recipients have represented their school in a variety of places: Hollywood, the football field, a restored state Capitol and beyond. Matthew McConaughey, Earl Campbell and Dealey Herndon were among those honored with the award, which is handed out each year to six people by Texas Exes, the school’s alumni association.
     
    McConaughey, who earned his degree in 1993, has emerged as one of the most recognized Texans of today. This year, the actor earned an Academy Award for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. “I met my longest and best friends that I have and still have in my life right here,” he said Friday at the LBJ Presidential Library. “I’ve got three children now, and I would be very honored if they chose to come to this university, so to that I say, hook ’em, Horns.” Star running back Campbell was the first Longhorn to win the Heisman trophy, in 1977. He went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Houston Oilers and the New Orleans Saints. The Tyler native and 1979 UT grad charmed the crowd Friday with jokes and stories about being recruited to play for Texas, his first encounters in Austin and his coaches and teammates.
    Continue reading
  • Texas A&M selected best for veterans

     
    Military veterans-turned-Aggies have made the best possible college decision, according to a ranking of nearly 1,400 colleges nationwide. Red Raiders aren’t too far behind. Texas A&M University in College Station was named the best school for veterans based on 19 different factors by College Factual, a website that crunches data on higher education to provide numerous rankings.
     
    This ranking aims “to help veterans and active duty service members to identify colleges that are likely to be supportive of them and their unique needs,” according to College Factual’s website.The factors considered in the ranking include affordability, veteran population, veteran flexibility, veteran policies, veteran resources and overall college quality.
    A&M had 1,213 undergraduate students receiving GI Bill benefits at the time the data was collected and participates in all four federal programs that help set the standards for veteran education, according to College Factual.
     
     
     
     
    Continue reading

Share This Page: