"Listening to Each Other"

The U.S. Senate will have a new bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act “by early spring” according to Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Alexander, along with the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Patty Murray, are working together and “listening to each other” in order to find common ground to move the bill forward. At a hearing this week Lamar outlined the goals of the legislation: “Simpler, more effective regulations that make college more affordable and easier for students to apply for financial aid and pay back their loans; reducing red tape so administrators can spend more time and money on students; making sure a degree is worth the time and money students spend to earn it; and helping colleges keep students safe on campus.”
 
This weekend The Eagle editorial board praised Chancellor Sharp for his “vision, tenacity and leadership” in getting the new RELLIS campus up and running. Academic programs from around the System will be offered at the campus starting this fall, and the new Texas Transportation Institute headquarters recently was “topped off” with a final piece of steel being placed at a facility that will bring all employees together for the first time since the 1950s. According to the paper, “In the future, RELLIS will expand the number of buildings and the number of course offerings. Private businesses will be encouraged to locate on the campus or nearby to create a synergy between students, faculty, researchers and business to work on projects in a wide range of areas from health care to transportation to technology and beyond.”
 
“How do we have a lean efficient operating system that's serving our institutions?” That’s the question that UT System Regent and former state lawmaker Kevin Eltife said was the goal of the task force on which he, along with Regents Longoria, Weaver and Aliseda, are serving to take a critical and broad look at the System’s operations. In an interview with the Texas Tribune, he called the task force’s review a “valuable tool” for whomever would next helm the System after Chancellor McRaven steps down later this year. “Kenny Jastrow, a prominent UT alumnus and donor, said the committee presents the regents with an ‘incredible opportunity to ... set the long-term direction for the system – and then bring on a chancellor to carry out that mission.’”
 
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke at the University of Houston Law Center on Friday. Her visit marked the first time a Supreme Court justice had been on the campus since 2005. Her remarks spanned topics from the #MeToo movement to criminal justice reform. She challenged students to excel, saying that the justices are “only as smart as the lawyers who present issues to us.”
 
Speaking of the Supreme Court, UT Law School professor, Stephen I. Vladeck delivered oral arguments before the court in January. A Q&A about the experience can be read here.
 
Texas A&M faculty members may soon see their influence diminished when it comes to the selection of department heads, deans, and other academic leaders. The Board of Regents will vote on a proposal to make faculty votes on whether to recommend candidates to a search committee “advisory or recommendations” instead of binding. Texas A&M Provost Carol Fierke discussed the proposal this week at the faculty senate meeting.

Week of January 28, 2018

Latest Updates

  • “So far Texas has been incomparable.”

    “So far Texas has been incomparable.” That was how newly minted UT System Chancellor James Milliken reflected on his first two weeks on the job when he spoke recently at the Texas Tribune Festival. In discussing what he plans to bring to the role, he said: “The foundation of my philosophy about public higher education is that talent is equally distributed across every demographic—whether it’s wealth, race, ethnicity, nationality, or zip code.” A recap of the festival, which also featured conversations about higher ed policy by Texas lawmakers, can be viewed here.

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  • The Longest Lecture

    The fall semester started with the surprise departure of a chancellor at one university system and the arrival of a new chancellor at another. Robert Duncan, the Texas Tech System chancellor, stepped down on August 13th, but rumors about the “why” of his departure continue. Meanwhile, the UT System officially welcomed James Milliken as its new chancellor. “You can't do anything important in public higher education without a partnership, a close partnership, with the leadership of state government, and frankly a partnership with the philanthropic community," said Milliken. "It is one of the essential roles of the job,” he said. “I've been successful at that in other places; I certainly hope that I'm successful at it in Texas.”

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