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.”
At an interim hearing at the Capitol, Commissioner of Higher Education, Dr. Raymund Paredes, provided an update on dual enrollment (students taking both high school and college courses simultaneously). Results find that “Texas high school students who take dual credit classes graduate college up to a year faster,” according to the Dallas Morning News report on the hearing. Participation in the program has doubled in the past decade, with more than 150,000 high school students taking at least one college course in 2017. Further investigation indicated that students who entered college with dual credits were more likely to stay in school and graduate on time. Dual enrollment is seen as one way to keep college costs low, while helping improve graduation rates.
The Austin American-Statesman reported on the annual rankings battle and whether or not Texas institutions were living up to Gov. Abbott’s goal of getting into the Top 10. Newsflash: not yet, but we’re moving in that direction. According to the paper, “No Texas universities ranked in the nation’s top 10 in the 2018 rankings of national universities released by U.S. News in September 2018. UT-Austin rose to 15th among public universities and tied for 49th overall. Texas A&M University tied for 24th among public universities and 66th overall.” The Texas Tribune also covered the rankings.
The Texas A&M Conservation Research Laboratory is working on a project to ensure that the cast iron cannons from the Alamo are preserved for future generations. Watch a video of Chancellor Sharp and Dr. Donny Hamilton giving an overview of the project at the lab.
UT Austin Alumni held their annual “Longhorns on the Hill” day in Washington D.C. in September. Alumni met with members of the Texas delegation to talk about higher education funding and other issues such as Pell Grants and funding to federal agencies like the National Science Foundation, which offers research grants to universities.
Rice University announced that beginning in the fall of 2019, it would offer free tuition to families earning $130,000 or less and those students with family incomes under $65,000 would also get stipends for room, board and fees. “Talent deserves opportunity,” said Rice president David Leebron. According to Forbes, “Under Rice’s new plan, called The Rice Initiative, students with family incomes between $130,000 and $200,000 will receive scholarships covering at least half of their tuition. The new Rice grants are need-based. Families with large assets may not qualify.”
A University of North Texas professor, Andrew Torget, broke the Guinness world record for the longest lecture. For 26 hours and 1,000 slides his lecture covered “the entirety of Texas history from prehistoric times to the modern day.” Watch the WFAA report on the lecture here.
"Talent is universal. Opportunity isn't."
"You start with a premise that talent is universal. Opportunity isn't.” That is the philosophy of new UT System Chancellor James Milliken who sat down for a wide-ranging interview with KXAN in Austin. He discussed the need for more higher education in Texas, to meet growing demand now and in the future, and highlighted his priorities for the Legislative Session, which includes getting lawmakers to increase higher education investments. He would not disclose if former Chancellor McRaven advised him to make his bed. (Though he did give him “lots of tips about leading the UT System.”)Continue reading
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.Continue reading