On The Higher Ed Horizon

“University leaders began this year [2017] expecting a bruising Texas legislative session, but they came out mostly unscathed. In many ways, the year will be remembered more for what happened on campus — not in the Capitol,” according to a roundup of higher ed news by the Texas Tribune. Funding, culture wars, tuition, #MeToo and Hurricane Harvey were just a few of the top stories that dominated headlines in 2017. With one week of 2018 under our belt, we’re already seeing a little more of the same – campus issues dominating higher ed headlines.
Consider the Texas Legislature announced this week a January 31, 2018 hearing on campus free speech issues to be held at Texas State University, which “grappled with free speech after a fall controversial newspaper column” last fall. According to the Houston Chronicle, the “hearing will attempt to evaluate ‘any restrictions on Freedom of Speech rights that Texas students face in expressing their views on campus along with freedoms of the press, religion, and assembly’ and ‘recommend policy changes that protect First Amendment rights and enhance the free speech environment on campus.’
Inside Higher Ed prognosticated about seven trends for higher education in 2018. The full article about what university leaders should prepare for can be read here, but the bullet points are:

  1. Eroding support for higher ed.
  2. Challenges to the business model.
  3. Violent activism and balancing free speech, safety and climate.
  4. #MeToo movement in the academy.
  5. Student safety in Greek life and athletics.
  6. Reckoning with the racist past.
  7. Presidents as public thought leaders.

 “… Intellectual and administrative chops to oversee 14 academic and health campuses, political savvy for navigating sometimes treacherous waters at the state Legislature and an unwavering commitment to the mission of teaching, learning, research and public service.” That’s the Austin American-Statesman’s take on what the search committee for the next chancellor of the UT System should look for in candidates. Following the announcement that Bill McRaven will step down in May 2018, UT System Board of Regents Chair, Sara Martinez Tucker, announced the formation of a search committee, which will include Regents Hildebrand and Foster, as well as two former Board Chairmen, James Huffines and Donald Evans, to find McRaven's replacement.
Students at Rice University are working with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to study the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the coral reef at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. More on their study can be read here.
“Rita Clements was an outstanding First Lady of Texas, committed public servant and proud Longhorn who loved her alma mater and dedicated her life to making it even greater. The UT community mourns her loss and sends our thoughts and prayers to her family.” That was from a statement by UT Austin President Greg Fenves following the death of Rita Clements this week. Clements served as a member of the board of regents and was a distinguished alumnus of The University.

Week of January 7, 2018

Latest Updates

  • 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.

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  • "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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