A Powerful Channel

Texas A&M spent nearly $300,000 in counterprogramming to respond to a visit to its campus last year by white supremacist, Richard Spencer. “Knowing that the world would be watching this event at Texas A&M University created the challenge of allowing open dialogue under a heavy security presence but also provided an opportunity for us to demonstrate Aggie values …” said Kelly Brown, a university spokeswoman. The university used “discretionary funds” for a rally that was intended to divert attention from Spencer’s event, demonstrating how “difficult — and expensive — it can be for schools to respond to controversial speech on their campuses.”

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An act of kindness ...

Last week was Primary week in Texas, and while many races were decided on March 6, more than 30 races will go to a May 22 runoff. The Texas Tribune has the rundown of what happened in the primaries here. One race many higher education watchers had their eye on was that of Kel Seliger, the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, who avoided a runoff by less than 350 votes. Since House Speaker Joe Straus announced his retirement, not only is his seat in the Legislature up for grabs (contenders Matt Beebe and Steve Allison will face each other in the May runoff), Straus’ position as Speaker, which is decided by the Members in January, is also open. Thus far, three candidates have emerged – Tan Parker, Phil King and John Zerwas.

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We Have Your Back

A New York Times piece featured UT Austin’s progress in increasing graduation rates through a series of innovative programs and the use of predictive analytics that build a “we have your back” community of support for students who may otherwise struggle to succeed. The University is forecasting it will hit its goal of graduating 70 percent of students within four years “helping to make room for more than 1,000 additional freshmen. Even more impressive, the gap between the campus-wide four-year graduation rate and the rate for low-income, black, Latino and first-generation students has been cut in half.”

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Compromise

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“I am very happy here.”

A bipartisan group of senators, including Texas’ John Cornyn introduced legislation to “hold campus leaders accountable for sexual abuse that happens on their watch.” The bill comes on the heels of the sentencing of Larry Nassar, convicted of abusing hundreds of female gymnasts, and accusations that Michigan State University mishandled allegations against him. “University officials must be responsible stewards of students’ trust, especially when they come forward with unthinkable allegations of abuse,” Senator Cornyn said. “This legislation would ensure reports of sexual misconduct against campus employees have been thoroughly reviewed by university leadership.”

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Latest Updates

  • "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.”

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  • “Curiosity is an indicator of the quality of a civilization”

    The Academy of Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST) recently released a video that highlights the state’s role as a research and innovation powerhouse and explains more about the organization, which was founded in 2004. “TAMEST is the single most important organization to drive research in the state of Texas,” Chancellor McRaven says in the video. “It’s an intellectual engine for the state of Texas,” says Dr. Peter J. Hotez from the Baylor College of Medicine. “Curiosity is an indicator of the quality of a civilization,” said Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, former astronaut and professor at Texas A&M University. “Discovery is about answering specific questions, but also improving our quality of life.”

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