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.
UH to the Big 12?
Reports out this week suggest the University of Houston would drop its opposition to the UT System expansion in Houston in exchange for entrance into the Big 12 conference. The idea of welcoming UH into the Big 12 received immediate support from Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Patrick and UT Austin President Fenves, as indicated by a round of supportive Tweets. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Houston lawmakers had differing views on whether or not a “swap” was in the works. “I have talked to boosters of the university who have floated that concept,” said Rep. Garnet Coleman. “In these circumstances, people use the tools that they have, and that’s one of the tools the University of Houston has. All’s fair in love and war.” State Sen. John Whitmire, however, had a differing view. “For anyone to think there’s a swap there, I say not only no, but hell no,” he said. “They are separate and apart.”Continue reading
"Undisputed Center for Innovation and Intellectual Capital"
Saying he is “fueling a new era of economic development” Gov. Greg Abbott this week announced the first round of recipients of the Governor's University Research Initiative. The funds are intended to attract renowned researchers to Texas universities, and this first batch certainly meets that description. The 10 researchers, who are members of The Royal Society in the United Kingdom, the National Institutes of Health, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, will come to three Texas schools: Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston. Texas A&M will receive half the researchers. In an op-ed following the announcement, Abbott wrote: “Because of the strategic investments we are making today, Texas will be the undisputed center for innovation and intellectual capital in this decade and beyond.”Continue reading