Unsustainable

West Texas A&M University this week received the “largest, most generous gift the school has ever received.” The Paul Engler and the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation have agreed to donate at least $1 million annually for the next 80 years for naming rights to two colleges: the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business. In highlighting the gift, System Chancellor John Sharp said, “A truly inspiring individual, Paul's drive and entrepreneurial spirit transformed the cattle industry. It is a tremendous honor for our university to become part of his legacy.”
 
Calling it an “unsustainable” situation, Higher Education Coordinating Board Chair Raymund Paredes this week lamented lagging higher education attainment for Texas males, among other groups. At a University of Houston Regents meeting, where he was presenting on progress toward meeting 60x30TX goals, Paredes told regents that several target populations including "black students, Hispanic students, economically disadvantaged students and men" are behind in meeting statewide goals. “The single biggest tragedy in American education is that if you either start behind or fall behind very early, you almost never catch up in this country,” Paredes said. Male students in Texas earned 62,211 degrees and certificates from public four-year universities in 2016, far behind female students, who received 82,700.
 
UT Austin announced the expansion of its relationship with Universidad Nacional Autonóma de Mexico (UNAM), by opening an office onsite in Mexico City to create more opportunities for collaboration and cross-cultural exchange. The University already has seven student exchange programs in Mexico and currently has 550 Mexican students enrolled in Austin. “Mexican students, researchers and institutions are vital as The University of Texas addresses important issues that affect both Mexico and Texas,” said President Greg Fenves.
 
If University of Houston Regents have their way Texas may soon get another medical school. The Board voted unanimously last week to create a College of Medicine. But, as the Texas Tribune notes, “they’ll have to convince state leaders it’s the right move.” While there is a documented shortage of physicians in the state, a number of universities have, in recent years, opened medical schools aimed at addressing the gap. “Since 2009, the Texas Tech University System has opened a medical school in El Paso, and the University of Texas System has opened one at UT-Austin and one at UT-Rio Grande Valley. The University of North Texas Health Science Center and Texas Christian University plan to jointly open a medical school in Fort Worth. And Sam Houston State University is exploring the development of a school of osteopathic medicine near The Woodlands.” Creating enough medical residences to keep all of these new medical students in Texas has been another challenge. Foreseeing this as an issue, UH has already signed a letter of understanding with the Gulf Coast division of Hospital Corporation of America to create new residences.
 
In a statement Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson appeared to need some convincing: “We have been working over the last several sessions to retain more of our medical school graduates by investing in graduate medical education. Our goal is to have a 1.1 to 1 ration of GME slots to medical school graduates. Meeting that goal becomes much more expensive with every new medical school that is created.”

Week of November 19, 2017

Latest Updates

  • The Texas Paradox

    “We’re getting better, but we’re not getting better fast enough.” That’s how Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes summed up the state of higher education attainment in Texas at his annual address. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Paredes told the audience that “we won’t come anywhere close to achieving the goals of 60 by 30” based on where we are right now. Our fastest growing population is segment – young Hispanics – are the key to future economic success, according to Paredes, but are also our “least well educated.” He called it the “Texas paradox of the moment.” Among his proposed solutions were outcomes-based funding, which would link funding to graduation rates, as well as expanded academic advising and “competency-based courses that let students progress at their own pace and adopt other innovations.”

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  • "Always forward, ever onward."

    A Washington Post piece with the provocative headline, “Elitists, Crybabies and Junky Degrees” this week highlighted a growing political divide over higher education in America. The piece attempts to explain “rising conservative anger at American universities” and their concerted efforts to under- or de-fund institutions. The push appears to be working. “To the alarm of many educators, nearly every state has cut funding to public colleges and universities since the 2008 financial crisis. Adjusted for inflation, states spent $5.7 billion less on public higher education last year than in 2008, even though they were educating more than 800,000 additional students …”

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