Who got "edged out"?

UT Austin announced this week that it was further tightening an already competitive admissions process, cutting off automatic admission to the top six percent of Texas public high school students. The change is in response to increased demand for entry into the institution – applications have increased from 38,000 in 2013 to 51,000 in 2017. “Under state law, at least 75 percent of the first-year, in-state students at the Austin flagship must be automatically admitted. UT sets the percentage annually to meet that requirement. The remaining applicants, including those from other states and abroad, are considered under a so-called holistic review that takes race, ethnicity, grades, essays, leadership qualities and numerous other factors into account.”
 
This week the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a $35 million grant to form an engineering research center, “The Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations,” which will be based at Texas A&M, and jointly operated with researchers from Rice University, Florida International University and the University of California at Los Angeles. The work will focus on “improving health care for underserved populations in areas such as rural South Texas and urban Los Angeles and Miami.” In a separate NSF announcement, A&M will also be the beneficiary of $2.3 million in additional federal grant funding to “revolutionize engineering education.”
 
The new U.S. News and World Report rankings came out this week. While UT-Austin “edged out” SMU and Texas A&M University surpassed Baylor University, Rice remains Texas’ top-ranked school according to this ranking. It comes in as the 14thbest school in the nation – the only Texas school to enter the top 50. The entire rankings can be viewed in their entirety here.
 
As Harvey’s floodwaters recede, Texas is continuing to grapple with the impact of the storm on all aspects of life, including higher education. The Higher Education Coordinating Board estimates that “500,000 students are enrolled in Texas schools from counties affected by the hurricane.” The Houston Chronicle detailed what universities are doing to help students address concerns – from emotional trauma to issues with financing their education. “This is an unprecedented event,” said Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Commissioner Raymund Paredes, adding that he hopes students resist temptation to drop out to work. “We expect some impact (to graduation rates), but exactly what it will be, we don't know.”
 
This week, UT Austin President Greg Fenves gave the 2017 State of the University Address. He summed up the mission of the university this way: “We serve our community. We improve lives. We strive for progress. We transcend the status quo. Our efforts take time. They take investment. They take passion, imagination and creativity. But that’s what’s required of us as a leading flagship university, and we embrace the challenge.” His full remarks can be read here.

Week of September 19, 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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