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

Latest Updates

  • “So far Texas has been incomparable.”

    “So far Texas has been incomparable.” That was how newly minted UT System Chancellor James Milliken reflected on his first two weeks on the job when he spoke recently at the Texas Tribune Festival. In discussing what he plans to bring to the role, he said: “The foundation of my philosophy about public higher education is that talent is equally distributed across every demographic—whether it’s wealth, race, ethnicity, nationality, or zip code.” A recap of the festival, which also featured conversations about higher ed policy by Texas lawmakers, can be viewed here.

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  • The Longest Lecture

    The fall semester started with the surprise departure of a chancellor at one university system and the arrival of a new chancellor at another. Robert Duncan, the Texas Tech System chancellor, stepped down on August 13th, but rumors about the “why” of his departure continue. Meanwhile, the UT System officially welcomed James Milliken as its new chancellor. “You can't do anything important in public higher education without a partnership, a close partnership, with the leadership of state government, and frankly a partnership with the philanthropic community," said Milliken. "It is one of the essential roles of the job,” he said. “I've been successful at that in other places; I certainly hope that I'm successful at it in Texas.”

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