McRaven Steps Down
On Friday, UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven announced he was stepping down from his post in May 2018. He cited his health as a key factor in the decision, while also noting his desire to spend time with his family. He has been previously diagnosed with Leukemia. “While I'm on the road to recovery and am grateful to my UT physicians and the good wishes and prayers of our many friends and colleagues, I believe it is time to segue to several other passions in my life,” he said in a statement. UT Austin President Greg Fenves issued a statement in response to the news, saying: “From the day he became chancellor, Bill McRaven has been focused on the impact of The University of Texas System in the state and beyond. We owe him our deepest thanks for his service and dedication, especially to the flagship campus of The University of Texas System.” Speaker Joe Straus said, “Bill McRaven has provided strong, visionary leadership for the UT System.” The full statement from the Board of Regents can be read here.
Higher education leaders praised the decision to eliminate the tax increase on graduate students in the final version of the tax bill currently moving through Congress. Chancellor John Sharp specifically lauded the work of U.S. Congressman Bill Flores saying he was “literally saving the education of tens of thousands of graduate students.” Flores, whose district includes A&M and Baylor said, “Robust graduate education programs are economic engines for America and it is crucial that policymakers recognize and promote these important components of our higher education infrastructure.”
UT Austin President Greg Fenves and Trinity University President Danny Anderson jointly authored an op-ed this week for Texas Monthly on how the negative impact of tax reform policy on higher education in Texas. Their piece focused on the proposed tax on university endowments. They wrote, “Taxing private university endowments will harm students throughout Texas by making college less accessible and less affordable. Higher education has brought our nation to the forefront of scientific discovery, propelled our economy and made the U.S. the flourishing country it is today. America’s high-quality pre-eminent private universities — part of the lifeblood of a strong economy — should be celebrated and championed for their contributions to America’s scientific and economic health, not punished with debilitating government taxation.” The final version of the bill, which will be voted on this week, includes the provision.
UT Austin alumni are statistically more likely than a national comparison group of graduates to be thriving when it comes to broader measures of well-being, according to a recent Gallup study. In an effort to go beyond traditional metrics of job placement and salaries, especially amid conversations on the value of a college degree, Gallup has, since 2014, surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 700,000 college graduates on purpose, community, social, physical and financial elements. “If you were to really think about what comes out of a higher education experience,” said Gallup’s Helen Stubbs, “in the minds of many it is connected to a good job, but it’s more than that. It is being a global contributor to the world, being connected to a community. It’s the idea that people are coming out of undergrad with not just a knowledge base but critical thinking skills that allow them to navigate their worlds and community in a way that provides meaning to their life.”
The Texas Tech Board of Regents met this week, and approved tuition increases for the next two years. Increases will range between 2.4 and 2.7 percent, depending on degree plans.
Week of December 17, 2017
“A clever political move”
Calling it “a clever political move,” the San Antonio Express-News editorial board criticized state lawmakers for turning tuition-setting authority to regents, saying Texas parents have lawmakers to thank for higher tuition bills this fall. “State lawmakers know they can shortchange higher education because the university boards will feel obligated to make up the difference with tuition. An added bonus of the arrangement is that it allows the regents, appointees of the governor, to take the heat off elected officials, who can claim no direct involvement in the rising cost of a college education. But, in truth, cutting state funding for higher education directly causes tuition increases. Denial is a sham, and pointing fingers at regents is an evasion of responsibility.”Continue reading
A longhorn and leading former member of the Trump Administration is being considered to head The University of Texas System, according to media reports. Rex Tillerson, who was ousted as Secretary of State just two weeks ago, is “open” to the idea of becoming the next UT System Chancellor per a Wall Street Journal report. Tillerson gave a farewell address at the State Department this week and his final official day on the job is March 31. Chancellor Bill McRaven will step down as Chancellor in May. “Rex is a solid citizen, very ethical, straightforward, and straight talking,” said ExxonMobil general counsel Charles Matthews to Texas Monthly. “He brings great integrity to whatever he does, and if he were chosen he would be a very, very solid choice.”Continue reading