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

  • Dramatic Changes

    With higher education facing financial and public opinion headwinds, Rice University took a proactive step this week by unveiling a seven-point plan to demonstrate its value to the public. According to the university, the plan is partially in response to “dramatic changes” in higher education. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Rice University plans to double research funding, work more closely with Houston and make undergraduate education more affordable for middle-class students in its next decade, a recognition that even the city's most prestigious campus must show its worth in a cultural climate skeptical of higher education.”

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  • "You can’t legislate morality or civility"

    “No one should be shouted down … We need to put an end to that. But you can’t legislate morality or civility — I get that,” said Sen. Joan Huffman during a State Affairs Committee hearing on campus free speech issues last week. In the wake of a series of incidents on college campuses nationally, and here in Texas, where conservative speakers had been dis-invited or shouted down because of their political views, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tasked the panel with coming up with solutions to “protect First Amendment rights and enhance the free speech environment on campus.” The panel was co-hosted by Texas State University and held in San Marcos. “Senators seemed to agree that no one has the right not to be offended,” according to the Austin American-Statesman account. Read more here on free speech conflicts on Texas campuses in 2017.

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