"Texans are a Tough Breed"

President Trump’s move this week to end DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – drew swift responses from every major university leader in Texas. Many of them were party to a statement last year that urged Congress to uphold and continue DACA.

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Weekly Roundup: Harvey Edition

Texas universities have been on the front lines of Hurricane Harvey in many different ways since the storm hit. Some schools, like The University of Houston and UT’s Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, found themselves in the eye of the storm, bruised and battered, but unbroken. Other institutions, while dealing with displaced students and faculty, were helping through their research, innovation and technological advances. Consider the Texas A&M scientist who was on Good Morning America, to highlight the findings of tests he conducted on floodwater. “We saw elevated levels of E. coli,” Dr. Gentry told Good Morning America. “And this indicates the very likely presence of pathogenic bacteria, viruses and other types of organisms that could cause disease in some individuals.”

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A Thumbs Up

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. You can help those affected by visiting www.RedCross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Or, visit www.HelpSalvationArmy.org or text STORM to 51555. 
 
On Wednesday, the Texas A&M System Board of Directors gave a thumbs up to extending Chancellor John Sharp’s contract. “From day one he has been a bold, innovative, visionary leader and he has really made a difference for the A&M System,” said Regent Phil Adams. The move paves the way for the board’s chairman to negotiate and finalize a deal with Sharp, which is expected to stay consistent with his current salary of $900,000 – $1.3 million with benefits.

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"Vigorous Debate and Peaceful Dissent"

The Special Session of the Texas Legislature “ground to a halt” this week a day earlier than expected. Referring to the session as “30 days of discontent,” an article in The Economist recapped the session in which only a handful of the governor’s 20 priorities for the session were passed. One State Representative, Republican Chris Paddie, characterized it this way: “The problem continues to be that politics rather than policy is driving the bus.” With the session wrapped up, members are back on the campaign trail, raising money and stumping for the 2018 election.

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"A workhorse for our nation’s scientists and engineers"

Saying it was “among our biggest challenges,” this week Texas A&M President Michael K. Young indicated that lowering the faculty-to-student ratio was a top priority. While the institution has experienced tremendous growth in its student body, hiring of faculty has not kept pace. Last fall, Texas A&M’s ratio was 23-to-1. “As a comparison, Young noted the University of Texas had an 18-to-1 ratio -- 23 percent better than A&M -- and the University of Michigan has a 12-to-1 ratio -- 92 percent better than A&M.” Young told The Eagle, “We would like to improve that [ratio] as quickly as we can, but it does take time to hire quality faculty, [and] it is also a tremendous financial challenge.”

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Latest Updates

  • Apples and Oranges

    Texas A&M is expanding into Houston with a recent purchase of an “18-story office building for a specialized engineering medicine program in collaboration” with Houston Methodist Hospital, according to the Houston Chronicle. The program, called “EnMed,” aims to attract 50 medical students annually with dual degrees in engineering and medicine, starting in July 2019. “The program expects to field requests from Texas Medical Center doctors who need engineers to create devices that will improve health care delivery, such as a pacifier that measures babies' dehydration. The goal will be for every graduate to invent an innovative device during the program. The announcement raised some eyebrows after a UT System expansion into Houston was shut down by lawmakers. State Sen. John Whitmire, a vocal opponent of the UT expansion, said the two land deals were "apples and oranges."

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  • Record Enrollment

    At an event in Killeen this week the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unveiled progress toward the states’ 60x30TX plan, which “aims to ensure 60 percent of adults, ages 25 to 34, will earn a college certificate or degree by 2030.” The number of Texans with degrees or certificates currently is just under 40 percent. Increasing this number is critical to the state’s future as some “estimates have shown that 65 percent of all new jobs by the year 2020 will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.”

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