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

  • 'Robin Hood' for Higher Ed?

    As budget battles in the Legislature heat up, the question of whether or not lawmakers will tap into the Rainy Day Fund continues to be a hot topic of discussion at the capitol – and on the state’s editorial pages. The Eagle this week laid out the case for why lawmakers should access the fund for public and higher education needs, saying the fund should “not be sacrosanct” … “It would be a shame to let our students suffer because of a refusal to dip into the Rainy Day Fund.”

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  • Read my lips: No More Bills

    Friday was the last day for Texas lawmakers to file a bill this legislative session, which brought about an expected flurry of activity. One bill, filed by Rep. J.M. Lozano, would limit higher education benefits for the children of veterans, a controversial issue killed in the 2015 Session. When lawmakers passed the provision (the Hazelwood Act) to allow veterans to pass their benefits to their dependents, it predicted a $10 million price tag – a figure, it turns out, was dramatically underestimated. The cost in 2015 was $178 million and is expected to increase. The state only picks up 20% of the tab, leaving the universities to pay for the rest. Lozano’s bill would limit benefits to veterans who served four years or more, and would expire the benefit 15 years after an honorable discharge, so it would only apply to kids born while their parents were on active duty.

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