Weekly Roundup: Harvey Edition

Texas universities have been on the front lines of Hurricane Harvey in many different ways since the storm hit. Some schools, like The University of Houston and UT’s Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, found themselves in the eye of the storm, bruised and battered, but unbroken. Other institutions, while dealing with displaced students and faculty, were helping through their research, innovation and technological advances. Consider the Texas A&M scientist who was on Good Morning America, to highlight the findings of tests he conducted on floodwater. “We saw elevated levels of E. coli,” Dr. Gentry told Good Morning America. “And this indicates the very likely presence of pathogenic bacteria, viruses and other types of organisms that could cause disease in some individuals.”
At UT Austin, researchers leveraged the power of the supercomputer dubbed “Lonestar 5” to help track hurricane Harvey. “As far as academic computing, this is the best available that we have to us in the country,” Clint Dawson, UT Professor, said of the supercomputer they are using. Researchers are able to create high-resolution data that federal and state agencies, such as TxDOT, NOAA and the National Hurricane Center, ultimately consult “when making decisions like where to evacuate and where to send resources.”
In response to Harvey, the higher education community in Texas launched the HELP Harvey Students fund, which has raised nearly $20,000 toward a goal of $300,000 to “help students successfully recover from Hurricane Harvey, return to their classes, and persist on their higher education learning pathway.” HELP stands for Higher Education Learning Pathways. The fund is being spearheaded by the Coordinating Board.
The Texas Tribune recently added higher education outcomes to its popular “Public Schools Explorer” research tool. The Tribune used data from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency “to document the education outcomes of every student who started eighth grade in a Texas public school during eight academic years (1997 through 2005).” The combined data set shows that of the more than 300,000 students who begin 8th grade in 2005 (who are now approximately 25 years of age), just 20.9 percent received a degree or certificate from a Texas college or university within six years of anticipated high school graduation. These outcomes are tracked at county, regional and state levels.
The Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) recently announce a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Greater Texas Foundation, T.L.L. Temple Foundation, and the Teagle Foundation to “launch an ambitious five-year effort to implement Texas Pathways reform across all 50 community college districts in the state.” The program will “help students choose their career paths and provide supports to help students reach employment and th next stage of their education.”

Week of September 3, 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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