Lawmakers from the Joint Interim Committee on Higher Education Formula Funding met last Wednesday to discuss how the state will fund higher education moving forward. “There are two main components to the state’s current method of funding higher-education: ‘special items’ earmarked for specific projects and a per-credit allocation disbursed using a formula.” The committee was formed as a “compromise” at the end of the 2017 legislative session, in which higher ed budgets were on the chopping block. The Texas Tribune took an in-depth look at the ways in which universities may be impacted by these proposals.
At the hearing, Chancellor Sharp made an announcement that the Texas A&M System would launch a new grant program for students from middle-class families. According to the Houston Chronicle, once approved by the Board of Regents, the program will “distribute $3 million per year for the next decade to students whose family income is between $60,000 and $100,000 each year.” Permanent University Funds will supply the grants. This follows Rice University and UT Austin both addressing the need to provide additional need-based aid for middle-class families.
Last week UT Austin celebrated the opening of the new graduate business facility, Robert B. Rowling Hall. “Rowling Hall will enrich the individual journeys and experiences of each student who learns here,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “This magnificent building is a testament to the vision of Robert and Terry Rowling, and their belief in the power of a UT education, which propelled the project from the beginning.”
Texas A&M “bid farewell” to Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences, Mark A. Hussey, who is stepping down at the end of February. Hussey, who served in the role for nine years including a stint as interim president, was recently named “Vice Chancellor and Dean Emeritus for Agriculture and Life Sciences” by the Board of Regents, for “35 years of exemplary service and leadership to the A&M System.”

Week of February 25, 2018

Latest Updates

  • An act of kindness ...

    Last week was Primary week in Texas, and while many races were decided on March 6, more than 30 races will go to a May 22 runoff. The Texas Tribune has the rundown of what happened in the primaries here. One race many higher education watchers had their eye on was that of Kel Seliger, the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, who avoided a runoff by less than 350 votes. Since House Speaker Joe Straus announced his retirement, not only is his seat in the Legislature up for grabs (contenders Matt Beebe and Steve Allison will face each other in the May runoff), Straus’ position as Speaker, which is decided by the Members in January, is also open. Thus far, three candidates have emerged – Tan Parker, Phil King and John Zerwas.

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  • We Have Your Back

    A New York Times piece featured UT Austin’s progress in increasing graduation rates through a series of innovative programs and the use of predictive analytics that build a “we have your back” community of support for students who may otherwise struggle to succeed. The University is forecasting it will hit its goal of graduating 70 percent of students within four years “helping to make room for more than 1,000 additional freshmen. Even more impressive, the gap between the campus-wide four-year graduation rate and the rate for low-income, black, Latino and first-generation students has been cut in half.”

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