The Next Spindletop?

A recent national survey found that international student enrollment is declining in the U.S. This echoes an earlier study by the Houston Chronicle, which found sharp drops in international enrollment at Texas institutions this fall. In fact, “applications to Texas' four-year public universities plummeted year over year by at least 10,000.” Among the contributing factors, according to the study, were the “social and political climate” in the U.S., as well as visa delays and cost. As reporter Lindsay Ellis noted, “International students pay way more money to attend state schools, boosting campus budgets amid uncertain state appropriations.”
 
Last week Gov. Abbott announced two new GURI Grant Awards. (That’s acronym the Governor’s University Research Initiative, of course.) The newest recipients will both join the faculty at Texas A&M University. M. Cynthia Hipwell, Ph.D., is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and Roderic Ivan Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D., is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering as well as the National Academy of Medicine. “The Governor’s University Research Initiative is the kind of smart, strategic investment that will keep our great research universities at the forefront of innovation,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “Gov. Abbott’s investment in higher education will pay off in a more educated workforce, a stronger economy and great universities.”
 
UT Austin President Greg Fenves recently received the “Guardian of the Human Spirit Award” from the Holocaust Museum in Houston where he delivered a powerful speech in which he spoke personally about the story of his father, a survivor of Auschwitz. He said, “I feel a need to speak more personally than I am used to …We are living through a time when our nation is experiencing acts—even movements—fueled by hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim and anti-gay sentiments, and discrimination towards immigrants on college campuses and in our communities … Too many people do not understand what hatred can lead to—especially organized, legitimized hatred. That is why we must remember. Remember through our stories. So today, I want to tell you a story. A story that helps define who I am, and a story about our nation—my father’s story.” The full text of his speech can be read here.
 
The UT Regents met last week, covering off on many issues, but one that didn’t move ahead was whether or not to move forward with a bid for managing and operating Los Alamos National Laboratory. Board Chair, Sara Martinez Tucker, said the vote would be postponed until the November 27 meeting. Another move that is in a holding pattern until more information can be gathered, is whether or not UT would join Texas A&M, Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Medical Center to “establish a joint campus focusing on life sciences research in the medical center,” an initiative dubbed TMC3. Meanwhile, Regents from the Texas A&M University System, who also met last week, gave the greenlight to Chancellor Sharp to begin negotiations to expand its partnership with TMC3. The President and CEO of the Texas Medical Center, Bill McKeon is enthusiastic about the opportunities the collaboration has. He said, "(I hope) this will be the Spindletop of life sciences in Texas... I really hope that it carries through."

Week of November 12, 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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