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.

Latest Updates

  • “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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  • 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.”

    Continue reading

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