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
Last week The University of Texas System Board of Regents named James Milliken as the sole finalist for the role of UT System chancellor. Milliken is the former chancellor of the City University of New York. In a statement Milliken said he would “welcome the opportunity to play a lead role in advancing this system of outstanding universities in the 21st Century.” According to the Texas Tribune, “Larry Faulkner, who has led the system on an interim basis since the former chancellor, Admiral Bill McRaven, stepped down in May, is expected to keep his position until Milliken's appointment is finalized and he can begin the job.” Additional coverage of the announcement can be found in the Austin Business Journal, Houston Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed, The Eagle and the Daily Texan, among other publications.Continue reading
Texas Universities in Service to Our Country
The University of Texas System is the proud new home base for U.S. Army Futures Command. The Command is a new entity and is part of a reorganization of the Army. It will be responsible for “coordinating modernization efforts and integrating innovation across the Army.” In making the announcement, the Pentagon indicated Austin was selected “because of its already-vibrant ecosystem of innovation, civic engagement and higher education, which includes UT Austin, one of the top-ranked research institutions in the nation,” according to the UT System.Continue reading