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.
Signup for Updates:
Turmoil resumes at UT over admissions, records requestsThe University of Texas System was a battleground over the summer as a legislative panel voted to censure a divisive regent, and President William Powers agreed under pressure to resign next year. The selection of a widely respected new system chancellor, Adm. William McRaven, added to hopes that the controversy might be winding down. University officials confirmed this week that regent Wallace Hall's public records requests, a key issue in the legislative hearings that led to his censure, had continued unabated. And in an Oct. 16 letter to regents Chair Paul Foster, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, expressed dismay that Hall had asked to examine certain unspecified, "potentially confidential" documents.For nearly a year before his censure, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations looked into the lengthy, personal investigation Hall had undertaken into UT-Austin under Powers. Powers' supporters called the probe a witch hunt to oust the president. They said Hall bullied staff, released confidential student information and sullied the school's reputation in the process. A preliminary investigation found no evidence of punishable wrongdoing. But additional information provided to system officials reignited concerns over UT-Austin's admissions practices and led the regents to hire corporate investigations firm Kroll Associates to undertake a deeper, independent inquiry. Lawmakers hoped the censure and the launch of the independent probe would tamp down Hall's personal investigations, but they haven't.
Pressure on the PresidentsTwenty-eight percent of public four-year college and university presidents say they feel pressure from their governors to conduct their presidencies in ways that differ from their judgment about what's best for their institutions.That is among the findings of the latest snap poll of presidents -- conducted by Gallup and Inside Higher Ed -- on breaking issues. A total of 620 presidents responded to the latest survey. They were assured anonymity, but their answers were grouped by sector. The latest survey was conducted amid the latest push by allies of Texas Governor Rick Perry to force out Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin, and amid growing debate over the use of climate surveys as one tool to combat sexual assault on campuses. (Powers survived, but in part because he was agreeing to retire anyway, just on his schedule instead of the governor's.)Continue reading