Back in Session

This week the Texas Legislature gaveled in the 83rd Legislative Session and higher education will be one of the top agenda items discussed, debated and legislated during this Session. Cost, accessibility and quality are all topics of discussion, as well as the potential appointment of 16 regents to Texas university systems. Texas, of course, isn’t the only state where higher education is a hot topic. The American Association of State Colleges and Universities this week issued a report on the “Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2013.” The full report can be viewed here, but the issues range from state support to college readiness and online education. Many of these same issues continue to dominate discussions in Texas. The Coalition will continue to be a thoughtful voice in any debate on higher education as we have since our inception in June of 2011. We believe in the critical importance of both teaching and research, we promote quality in higher education, and we support university leaders who have demonstrated their commitment to a culture of excellence and continual innovation. We also support the efforts of those universities that are working to achieve Tier One status, which would bring additional research and development capabilities, and create jobs and economic opportunity throughout Texas. This legislative session we will champion those efforts to improve quality education for Texas students and criticize any so-called “reforms” that will undermine the quality and integrity of our universities, especially our Tier One institutions.

 

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  • Grand jury to consider case against UT Regent Wallace L. Hall Jr.

    A Travis County grand jury will consider possible criminal charges against University of Texas System Regent Wallace L. Hall Jr. “in the very near future,” the prosecutor leading the investigation said Thursday. Among the issues is whether Hall violated state law with his relentless pursuit of records from UT-Austin, his alma mater, and by disclosing confidential student information. The regent said Thursday that he was aware of the impending grand jury proceedings but is “very comfortable” with everything he has done. University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall, right, is interviewed by Evan Smith, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the Texas Tribune, left, ... Read More “It would be nicer if they said, ‘We’ll close the file,’” Hall said at an event sponsored by the Texas Tribune, adding that nobody likes to face a possible indictment.
     
    Hall was appointed to a six-year term on the UT Board of Regents in 2011 by Gov. Rick Perry, who himself was indicted last month on two felony charges related to the Public Integrity Unit, the arm of the Travis County district attorney’s office that is investigating Hall. The governor is accused in connection with his threat — eventually carried out — to veto funding for the unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned after her drunken driving arrest.
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  • President search committee starts coming together

    With President William Powers Jr. set to leave his position in June 2015, Paul Foster, UT System Board of Regents chairman, is in the process of forming a search committee to find candidates to replace him.
    In July, Powers agreed with Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to set his resignation for June 2015. Cigarroa initially asked Powers to resign in October, but Powers requested to stay on until after the 2015 legislative session.
    At the regents meeting Thursday, Foster announced Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Larry Faulkner, who served as University president from 1998-2006, would both chair the committee. Foster also said an outside firm would be hired to help the committee identify candidates.
     
    “I am asking the committee to bring to the board the broadest possible slate of highly-qualified, experienced and skilled leaders with exceptional dedication and talent necessary to lead the University of Texas at Austin,” Foster said. In accordance with the Regents’ Rules and Regulations, Foster said he will also select board members and System institution presidents to the committee as well as alumni and external members. Naval Adm. William McRaven, who will become System chancellor in January, has agreed to serve as one of the external members on the committee. In addition, a University dean will also serve on the committee, as elected by his fellow deans.
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