"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 …”
With “long-term declines in per-student state appropriations and inflation” a contributing factor, all but one of the six systems in the Texas higher education ecosystem have announced likely increases in tuition for 2018. Texas Tech has not yet made a decision. Recognizing the political dynamics of an increase, former state lawmaker and current UT System Regent Kevin Eltife cautioned, “I think the rollout is more important than anything … if they [school presidents] are going to recommend a tuition increase, they better have a real need.”
In an editorial penned for Inside Higher Ed, UT Austin Professor Steven Mintz highlighted the many ways in which higher education is changing to meet new societal and economic demands, as well as evolving student needs. He argued the case against institutions outsourcing core functions and responsibilities – citing the loss of valuable data and learning opportunities as a cost – and argued for centralized innovation units. He wrote, “Higher education is changing in fundamental ways and something will be lost as it evolves. But something will be gained that doesn’t yet exist. ‘Semper et deinceps’ [St.] Augustine proclaims: Always forward, ever onward. Mintz was the Executive Director of the UT System's Institute for Transformational Learning from 2012 through 2017.
“Texas A&M University professor Andrew Dessler is among 396 members to be honored as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this year.” Dessler is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the Earl F. Cook professor of geosciences. The AAAS aims to "advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people." Dessler is the author of The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A Guide to the Debate, a book he wrote after spending time in Washington, D.C. and becoming “aware of a profound lack of understanding among policymakers and the general public about how science works and how to interpret the conflicting claims one often hears in policy debates.”
Responding to a dramatic dip in international enrollment, UT Dallas recently produced a video called “You Are Welcome Here” that welcomes prospective students to the campus, emphasizing campus diversity by having students speak in multiple languages. More than 6,000 international students call UT Dallas home. They make up nearly a quarter of the student population, more than half of its graduate student population and account for a third of overall student growth, which is up by 60% in the last decade according to the Texas Tribune. UT Dallas president Richard Benson recently told the UT System Board of Regents that increasing international students was one of his top five priorities. “We always want to fill our class with the best and the brightest students,” he said.
After a nearly year-long search, the Texas Exes have a new Executive Director. Chuck Harris, currently the president of Netspend in Austin, will become the seventh leader of the 130-year old association of ex-students.
Week of November 26, 2017
Does Texas owe you $1,000?
Does Texas owe you $1,000? Since 1997, the state has incentivized the efficient completion of a bachelor’s degree by offering a $1,000 rebate for students who complete their degree in four years and take limited hours courses outside of their major. An Austin American-Statesman article on the incentive, however, found that many university students are unaware of the rebate. Institutions estimate how much they will dole out in rebates annually, and request those funds of the legislature. UT Austin awarded more rebates than any other university who responded to the Statesman’s inquiry. Students at all 37 of the state’s public institutions are eligible for the rebates.Continue reading
"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.”Continue reading