Implosion

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.”
 
The question of university campus expansions was again explored at a hearing of the Senate Higher Education Committee this week. Raymund Paredes, head of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, expressed concern over growth “asserting that too many higher education sites risks a decline in quality as state funding per student and per campus goes down,” according to the Austin American-Statesman account. Sen. Kel Seliger, who in 2017 introduced legislation requiring institutions to get approval from the Coordinating Board before purchasing new property, indicated he would again introduce the legislation, which passed the Senate but was not considered by the House. “It came as a recommendation of the coordinating board,” he said. “I think it’s a good one.”
 
Texas is one of 19 states that bars professional license holders (think teachers, nurses, dentists, etc.) who default on their student loans from renewing their licenses. A Texas Tribune story highlighted the inherent irony in a law that aimed to push people to pay off loans, but has in practice served to make it increasingly difficult for some to earn a living in order to pay off those loans. “It's clear that anything that encumbers someone from getting a job is a lousy way to try and collect debt payments from them,” said Louis Malfaro, president of the Texas American Federation of Teachers.
 
The UT System joined the Texas A&M System in increasing tuition for the fall. Regents voted last week to increase tuition by $99 for the fall of 2017, with an additional $101 increase for fall 2019.
 
Texas A&M has launched a multi-disciplinary task force aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic. An example of one of the efforts of the task force was to conduct a survey of physicians to “determine their level of training and comfortability in dealing” with opioids. As a result the task force will develop continuing education materials to help physicians deal with the new challenges of the crisis.  "By working together, we can create an even greater impact in preventing and managing the devastating consequences faced by Texans and others around the country," said Carrie L. Byington, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine.
 
On Sunday, Ashbel Smith Hall, the former UT System headquarters, was imploded in downtown Austin to make way for a new office tower. Watch the video of the implosion here.

Week of March 25, 2018

 

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