A Thumbs Up

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. You can help those affected by visiting www.RedCross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Or, visit www.HelpSalvationArmy.org or text STORM to 51555. 
On Wednesday, the Texas A&M System Board of Directors gave a thumbs up to extending Chancellor John Sharp’s contract. “From day one he has been a bold, innovative, visionary leader and he has really made a difference for the A&M System,” said Regent Phil Adams. The move paves the way for the board’s chairman to negotiate and finalize a deal with Sharp, which is expected to stay consistent with his current salary of $900,000 – $1.3 million with benefits.
The UT System Board of Regents voted unanimously to select Peter W.T. Pisters, MD, MHCM, as the sole finalist for the position of president at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center. “The search for a new leader began earlier this year when Ron DePinho, M.D. announced he would be stepping down as president. Marshall Hicks, M.D., will continue serving as interim president of MD Anderson until Pisters’ appointment as president is finalized by the Board of Regents.”
The fracking boom has been a boon to the Permanent University Fund (PUF), which supports an endowment for the Texas A&M and University of Texas Systems. Consider that the UT System received $352 million from the fund in 2011 – this year it will receive $603 million. Last week the Texas Tribune produced an in-depth piece on how and where that money gets spent.
This week, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities announced that UT Austin was one of the finalists for its 2017 “Project Degree Completion Award.” The prize works to “identify, recognize, and reward institutions that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion.” UT Austin’s four-year graduation rate increased more than 10 percent over a four-year period.
After the departure of Texas A&M’s provost Karan Watson over conflict-of-interest issues with her husband’s business, the A&M Board of Regents this week voted totighten rules to avoid such controversies in the future. “Under the new rules, chief financial officers, vice chancellors, chief auditors, chief compliance officers, provosts, vice presidents, deans, deputy agency directors, associate agency directors and others with equivalent job duties are prohibited from contracting for goods and services from vendors if they or their close family members have a financial interest in those vendors.”
The UT System Board of Regents this week greenlighted an effort by System leaders to pursue management of the contract for Los Alamos National Lab, “the nation’s most preeminent national laboratory in the areas of nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards and security, environmental management, energy and other programs.” The University of California System has the contract now, and has been involved in management of the Lab for more than 70 years.

Week of August 27, 2017

Latest Updates

  • "Break a few molds"

    It’s graduation season for many institutions of higher education across the state. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from recent commencements. Texas A&M commissioned 138 Corps of Cadets members – the most from a graduating class in three decades – as Army officers at its commencement this year. UT Austin Distinguished Alum and Director of the Defense Health Agency, Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, M.D. led her alma mater’s commencement telling graduates “it is okay to break a few molds.” Jason Jenkins, a Texas Tech Outstanding Alumni winner and Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Miami Dolphins, encouraged Tech graduates to effect change in the “changing political and social climates” they are about to enter. The University of Houston released this video with highlights of its commencement featuring Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who admonished students to “live their life in such a way that whatever you receive from this university, your parents, from others, that you find a way to share it with someone else.”

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  • “Curiosity is an indicator of the quality of a civilization”

    The Academy of Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) recently released a video that highlights the state’s role as a research and innovation powerhouse and explains more about the organization, which was founded in 2004. “TAMEST is the single most important organization to drive research in the state of Texas,” Chancellor McRaven says in the video. “It’s an intellectual engine for the state of Texas,” says Dr. Peter J. Hotez from the Baylor College of Medicine. “Curiosity is an indicator of the quality of a civilization,” said Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, former astronaut and professor at Texas A&M University. “Discovery is about answering specific questions, but also improving our quality of life.”

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