A New Chair

This week the UT System Board of Regents elected Sara Martinez Tucker as its new chair. Tucker, who was appointed to the Board by Gov. Abbott in 2015, was undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education in the George W. Bush Administration. Chancellor McRaven predicted Tucker would be a “fabulous” chairwoman. President Fenves said in a statement that, “Chair Tucker is a Distinguished Alumna of UT Austin, a former commencement speaker and one of our most dedicated Texas Exes. As a former U.S. Under Secretary of Education, she also has a deep knowledge of higher education and understands the support that UT System institutions need to accomplish their missions.” At the meeting the Board also affirmed $4.5 million in spending for the bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, “a key part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex.”

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Who got "edged out"?

UT Austin announced this week that it was further tightening an already competitive admissions process, cutting off automatic admission to the top six percent of Texas public high school students. The change is in response to increased demand for entry into the institution – applications have increased from 38,000 in 2013 to 51,000 in 2017. “Under state law, at least 75 percent of the first-year, in-state students at the Austin flagship must be automatically admitted. UT sets the percentage annually to meet that requirement. The remaining applicants, including those from other states and abroad, are considered under a so-called holistic review that takes race, ethnicity, grades, essays, leadership qualities and numerous other factors into account.”

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"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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Latest Updates

  • The Texas Paradox

    “We’re getting better, but we’re not getting better fast enough.” That’s how Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes summed up the state of higher education attainment in Texas at his annual address. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Paredes told the audience that “we won’t come anywhere close to achieving the goals of 60 by 30” based on where we are right now. Our fastest growing population is segment – young Hispanics – are the key to future economic success, according to Paredes, but are also our “least well educated.” He called it the “Texas paradox of the moment.” Among his proposed solutions were outcomes-based funding, which would link funding to graduation rates, as well as expanded academic advising and “competency-based courses that let students progress at their own pace and adopt other innovations.”

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  • "Always forward, ever onward."

    A Washington Post piece with the provocative headline, “Elitists, Crybabies and Junky Degrees” this week highlighted a growing political divide over higher education in America. The piece attempts to explain “rising conservative anger at American universities” and their concerted efforts to under- or de-fund institutions. The push appears to be working. “To the alarm of many educators, nearly every state has cut funding to public colleges and universities since the 2008 financial crisis. Adjusted for inflation, states spent $5.7 billion less on public higher education last year than in 2008, even though they were educating more than 800,000 additional students …”

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