"Break a few molds"

It’s graduation season for many institutions of higher education across the state. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from recent commencements. Texas A&M commissioned 138 Corps of Cadets members – the most from a graduating class in three decades – as Army officers at its commencement this year. UT Austin Distinguished Alum and Director of the Defense Health Agency, Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, M.D. led her alma mater’s commencement telling graduates “it is okay to break a few molds.” Jason Jenkins, a Texas Tech Outstanding Alumni winner and Senior Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Miami Dolphins, encouraged Tech graduates to effect change in the “changing political and social climates” they are about to enter. The University of Houston released this video with highlights of its commencement featuring Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who admonished students to “live their life in such a way that whatever you receive from this university, your parents, from others, that you find a way to share it with someone else.”

Former UT Austin President, Larry Faulkner, was named interim chancellor of the UT System on Friday. Faulkner assumes the position on June 1. "He is widely known and respected for his steady hand in higher education leadership and administration, rich knowledge of the UT System and its institutions, and breadth of relationships throughout Texas and the nation,” said Regents’ Chairman Sara Martinez Tucker, in a statement. Faulkner said he is “not the right person” for the permanent job, and that his replacement would be hired “well before the next legislative session starts." 
 
Also at the UT System Board Meeting this week, regents allocated $7 million in the event it wins the bid to run Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 
A program at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is in the spotlight after the most recent Texas school shooting in Santa Fe. Gov. Abbott highlighted the program, which “works to identify junior high and high school students most at risk for committing violence in schools and intervene before it happens.” According to the Texas Tribune, The Criminal Justice Division of Abbott’s office funded the program with a $565,000 grant.
 
PETA sued Texas A&M in federal court this week. While PETA has regularly disrupted Texas A&M Board meetings over animal testing, this is the first time the group has sued the university for censorship. The group claims Texas A&M has been hiding social media posts from PETA members on the institution’s Facebook page. It will be an interesting first amendment case, not just for Texas A&M but for other public institutions.
 
Speaking of Facebook, the Texas Tribune recently announced a new project, aFacebook group called “This Is Your Texas: Campus Correspondents.” The goal is to “create a space for young people to ask questions and feel comfortable talking about politics and policy with Texas Tribune journalists, policy makers and each other, especially on the issues that affect them most.”

Latest Updates

  • Cyber Warriors

    A special unit of the Texas A&M University Corps of Cadets is focusing on digital national defense – training up the next generation of “cyber warriors” according to The Eagle. “The recent John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act designated all senior military colleges as cyber institutes that, according to the act, should offer programs to ‘provide future military and civilian leaders of the Armed Forces or the Department of Defense who possess cyber operational expertise from beginning through advanced skill levels.’” There are 47 cadets in the unit this year.

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  • “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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