Saying Goodbye to a Legend

This week the world lost a living legend. Dr. Denton Cooley, renowned heart surgeon, passed away at 96 years of age. A former Longhorn basketball player, Cooley went on to found the Texas Heart Institute and revolutionize “many techniques still used in cardiovascular surgery today.” “The University of Texas prepares leaders who can benefit society and improve the world — none more so than Dr. Cooley, who continued to give back throughout his life,” said UT Austin President Greg Fenves. “His legacy on campus and throughout the world will be felt for generations.”

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Are you ready for OMLD?

What should higher ed watchers expect from the Trump Administration? It’s hard to say. As the Houston Chronicle pointed out this week, President Elect Trump’s “higher education policies are sparse but have the potential to vastly change how the federal government works with colleges and universities.” One huge idea floated during the campaign was dismantling the Department of Education, which manages federal student loan programs among many other roles related to higher ed. Another idea included addressing student debt by capping interest repayment rates on student loans. Overall he’s touched on affordability and access in speeches, but offered little in the way of specifics. Stay tuned.

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The End is Near

Blessedly, this presidential election cycle will come to a close on Tuesday, but research and analysis on this and future elections will live on. Especially with the new Presidential Elections Program Rice’s Baker Institute announced this week“to give voters and campaigns deeper insight into changing trends in U.S. presidential elections.” With the program, the Institute aims to close a “prominent gap in the academic and popular understanding of U.S. presidential elections,” said Director Edward Djerejian. The Program will hold two conferences every four years, with topics ranging from campaign finance to media coverage.

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A Sober Assessment

In what was characterized as a “sober assessment,” this week Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes delivered his annual state of higher education address, highlighting “an uncertain economic and intellectual future” if the state fails to increase graduation rates, especially among Hispanics. “It’s not too much to say that how well we educate those Latino children will pretty much determine the fate of Texas in the 21st century,” he said. Paredes, who has been on the job for 12 years, noted that “of 100 Latino students in Texas who were eighth-graders in 2004, only 14 had earned a post-secondary credential six years after they should have graduated from high school. For the eighth-grade population as a whole, 20 of 100 earned a certificate or degree.”

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Hold the Line

Architecture students from across the state are helping shape the future of transportation in Texas. Texas Central, the developer of the Texas bullet train,announced this week that students from Texas A&M, Prairie View A&M, UTSA, UT Arlington, UT Austin, Texas Tech University, U of H and Rice are participating in a design competition for the passenger stations for the railway, which will run between North Texas and Houston. “Students like these are early adopters, driving demand for travel options like the Texas bullet train. We can’t wait to see the proposals they put together …” said Holly Reed, managing director, external affairs, for Texas Central.

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Latest Updates

  • A Momentum Changer

    The Texas Senate unanimously approved three new regents on Tuesday of last week. Janiece Longoria, Rad Weaver and Kevin Eltife were confirmed and sworn-in ahead of their first board meeting in Austin on Wednesday. Their appointments bring to a close what has been, at times, a tumultuous period for the Board, most notably because of the ongoing battles – legal and otherwise – brought on by outgoing regent Wallace Hall. The terms of regents Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich also came to an end this week.

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  • State of the State

    In his State of the State address this week, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a state hiring freeze that included institutions of higher education. As noted by the Associated Press, the move “applies only to positions supported by money appropriated by the Legislature. That might allow campuses to use tuition dollars to pay for some positions while shifting appropriated funds to other college and university expenses.” In his remarks, Abbott also called on lawmakers to fully fund his University Research Initiative, which aims to recruit talented faculty to Texas institutions.

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