Apples and Oranges
Texas A&M is expanding into Houston with a recent purchase of an “18-story office building for a specialized engineering medicine program in collaboration” with Houston Methodist Hospital, according to the Houston Chronicle. The program, called “EnMed,” aims to attract 50 medical students annually with dual degrees in engineering and medicine, starting in July 2019. “The program expects to field requests from Texas Medical Center doctors who need engineers to create devices that will improve health care delivery, such as a pacifier that measures babies' dehydration. The goal will be for every graduate to invent an innovative device during the program. The announcement raised some eyebrows after a UT System expansion into Houston was shut down by lawmakers. State Sen. John Whitmire, a vocal opponent of the UT expansion, said the two land deals were "apples and oranges."
A new report out this week showed that 38% of Hispanics in Texas have postsecondary education, compared to 71% of Anglos. The report, Latino Education and Economic Progress, was published by Georgetown University and showed that “while Hispanics have made progress toward higher education success, notable gaps remain when compared with other ethnicities, leading to lower overall pay for Hispanic individuals.” According to the study, the median annual income for individual Hispanics is $35,000, compared with $52,000 for whites and $40,000 for blacks – a gap attributed to reduced higher education attainment rates.
This week the state announced a task force to help Texas students impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The Governor tasked the “Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health: with several charges, including “developing a comprehensive list of statewide and regional mental health resources, using regional Education Service Centers in affected areas to coordinate support and linking schools in need of help with responders who can help them.” Governor Abbot said, "The invisible wounds left behind after this storm are often the most difficult to recover from. It is crucial that the State of Texas provides our educators and students with all available resources to address mental health needs as quickly as possible.”
Free speech was again a hot topic on a Texas college campus this week when a GOP state lawmaker, Briscoe Cain was “unable to address students after a protest drowned him out” at Texas Southern University this week. This follows similar incidents at campuses around the country. In the wake of these incidents, a new study by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education College (FIRE) was released this week showing “students might appreciate free speech in the abstract, but question them on more granular issues, and their support softens.” For his part, Cain has indicated a willingness to reschedule his talk at Texas Southern.
Oscar winner and Texas Ex, Matthew McConaughey, sat down with Texas Monthly after delivering a lecture to film students at UT Austin last week. Watch “Professor McConaughey” in this short clip talk about how in teaching his class, “Script to Screen” he is able to deliver to students an unmatched behind-the-scenes look at filmmaking.
Week of October 15, 2017
“A clever political move”
Calling it “a clever political move,” the San Antonio Express-News editorial board criticized state lawmakers for turning tuition-setting authority to regents, saying Texas parents have lawmakers to thank for higher tuition bills this fall. “State lawmakers know they can shortchange higher education because the university boards will feel obligated to make up the difference with tuition. An added bonus of the arrangement is that it allows the regents, appointees of the governor, to take the heat off elected officials, who can claim no direct involvement in the rising cost of a college education. But, in truth, cutting state funding for higher education directly causes tuition increases. Denial is a sham, and pointing fingers at regents is an evasion of responsibility.”Continue reading
A longhorn and leading former member of the Trump Administration is being considered to head The University of Texas System, according to media reports. Rex Tillerson, who was ousted as Secretary of State just two weeks ago, is “open” to the idea of becoming the next UT System Chancellor per a Wall Street Journal report. Tillerson gave a farewell address at the State Department this week and his final official day on the job is March 31. Chancellor Bill McRaven will step down as Chancellor in May. “Rex is a solid citizen, very ethical, straightforward, and straight talking,” said ExxonMobil general counsel Charles Matthews to Texas Monthly. “He brings great integrity to whatever he does, and if he were chosen he would be a very, very solid choice.”Continue reading