"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.
The Houston Chronicle profiled University of Houston Chancellor Renu Khator on the occasion of her 10th anniversary at the institution. “She's an uncommon figure in U.S. and in Texas higher education. Most college presidents are white or male, and she is neither. She has stayed at UH for a decade, years longer than the average president. She holds a rare dual appointment of both president and chancellor and she's never held elected office in Texas politics, unlike three other state chancellors.” Khator has pushed UH to offer a “nationally competitive education” to an incredibly diverse student population. Her efforts have paid off with recognition from the Carnegie Foundation and the opening of a Phi Beta Kappa honor society chapter. "We have made a lot of strides … When the needle is moving, it's quite intoxicating,” she said.
In an editorial board meeting with the Dallas Morning News, two leading Democratic candidates for Texas Governor discussed higher education funding as a policy priority. Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez explicitly called for the re-regulation of college tuition, while Andrew White called for lawmakers to guarantee tuition rates for four years. White also acknowledged the need for more state funding of higher education. The paper ultimately endorsed White for Democratic candidate for governor.
“Texas is home to five of the top 100 schools in the country, including Rice University, which ranks No. 14 overall nationally in the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings, and the University of Texas at Austin, one of the country’s leading public universities.”
Secretary of State and UT Austin alumnus, Rex Tillerson, visited his alma mater last week, calling for an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and talking about the Administration’s approach to Latin America, specifically calling out Venezuela and Cuba. “For prosperity to take root, we must create the conditions for regional stability … Our approach is holistic: We must address security and development issues side by side,” he said.

Week of February 5, 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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