Higher Education

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Edward D. Irons, noted educator, financial and business executive, and author of ‘Only By Grace.’

Irons spent more than sixty years as a university educator; a business, government and educational executive; a management and financial consultant to business, banks and to the U.S. and foreign governments including the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa. He served on a number of corporate boards and numerous nonprofit organizations.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Chaz Pitts-Kyser, Founder and Managing Editor of Careeranista.com and author of Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College.

Just 30 minutes of watching the nightly news is enough to make the average woman graduating from college want to crawl beneath the covers. The headlines always seem to come back to the sluggish economy, high rate of unemployment, fierce competition for jobs, and ultimately, just how unlucky young professionals are for having to build a career amid such misfortune.

The bad news? It really is a tough time for recent graduates. The good news? Armed with her new book, young women can gain the knowledge and insight needed to begin crafting rewarding careers despite any obstacles they may face.

On this edition of In Black America, producer & host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Dr. James L. Hill, former senior vice president of The University of Texas at Austin and life-long educator, who helped the university make significant progress in the recruitment of students from underrepresented communities and build strong relationships with the East Austin community.

KUT News

More people are attending public colleges and universities in Texas, but members of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education heard this week that the increases are not across all groups.

Susan Brown, the assistant commissioner of Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for planning and accountability, told lawmakers on Tuesday that enrollment at Texas colleges is up by about 21,000 students right now, but enrollment among white students had declined for the third straight year.

Technology – and particularly smartphones – could reshape safety efforts on college campuses. At least that's the hope of some developers.

Several new apps offer quick ways for college students facing unsafe or uncomfortable situations to reach out to their peers, connect with resources on campus and in their communities, or notify law enforcement.

These apps for the most part target sexual assault and rape, amid growing national concern about the prevalence of incidents and criticism of the ways colleges and universities are handling them.

A bill that would have let millions of people refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate has failed in the Senate, after Republicans objected that it included a tax on the wealthy to pay for it. The measure would have allowed people with older loans to benefit from today's low interest rates.

The bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn't get past a procedural vote, falling by a 56-38 vote. Called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, it was shot down days after President Obama urged Congress to help ease the burden of student debt.

(This post was updated at 3:24 p.m. ET.)

President Obama signed an order on Monday that expands the number of Americans whose student loan payments will be capped at 10 percent of their monthly incomes.

CNN reports the new order would allow an additional 5 million borrowers to take advantage of the cap beginning in December 2015.

Bloomberg adds:

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Chaz Pitts-Kyser, Founder and Managing Editor of and author of Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College.

Photo by KUT News

Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex W. Tillerson and his wife, Renda, are donating $5 million to the Cockrell School of Engineering. The money is slated to go toward the Engineering Education and Research Center which is expected to open in 2017.

It's a 430,000 square-foot facility that will allow UT Austin to expand its teaching, research and student project space.

Tillerson graduated from UT Austin in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and serves on the school's Engineering Advisory Board and UT Development Board.  His sons, Robert and Michael, are also graduates.


While school administrators work to clear the fog surrounding House Bill 5, the state's suite of educational changes, some are saying the bill could hurt the minority students’ chances to go to college.

A study by UT-Austin’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis found that HB 5 might lead school counselors to set minority students on a less rigorous degree plan designed for students who do not want to go to college. UT researchers say this is because school administrators often have low academic expectations for poor black students.


This is the first of a two-part look at the University of Texas' Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), now halfway through their initial semester. Read Part One here.

So what it UT getting for its $5 million investment in edX? 

UT Psychology department chair James Pennebaker describes the money spent on edX as a "great investment." He isn't certain how education will look in the near future – but he said no one has that answer. 

"UT and any serious university has to be revolutionary in its thinking,” Pennebaker says. “We have to look forward to new technologies and teaching strategies.”

Roy Varney for KUT News

This is the first of a two-part look at the University of Texas' Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), now halfway through their initial semester.

The University of Texas’ grand entry into Massive Open Online Courses is underway. The courses, better known as MOOCs, are offered as free ways for the general public to access high quality education.

By any traditional college metric, UT's MOOCs, offered for the first time this fall, would be performing terribly: The majority of students who signed up have dropped out, there is no way to detect cheating, and the grading systems are automated. But halfway through the semester, education experts view UT's MOOCs as a success – and a necessity for building the future of its education network.

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KUT News

The College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin will soon have a new name – the Moody College of Communication.

The Moody Foundation is donating $50 million to the college, the largest donation in the college’s history.

The donation will be paid out over 10 years and will fund various initiatives, including a $10 million innovation fund and $13 million for graduate student recruitment and retention.

Money will also be used to build a sky bridge across Dean Keeton Street to link the Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. UT will provide an extra $5 million to improve classroom space and facilities, which includes the sky bridge.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Update: State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, spoke and answered questions regarding House Bill 5 in front of the State Board of Education today.

Patrick’s endorsement of the bill, which provides for different paths to high school graduation, was met with skepticism from board member Patricia Hardy. Hardy’s concern revolved around the removal of social studies classes from high school graduation requirements. She argued that turning social studies courses into electives limits a student’s exposure to important information.

KUT News

A new school year starts today for the more than 50,000 students at the University of Texas at Austin. Students at St. Edwards, Huston-Tillotson, Southwestern and Texas State also started classes this week.

But how many of those students are prepared for college success and on-time graduation? The numbers don’t look so good.

Saying a college education is the "surest path to the middle class," President Obama announced a plan Thursday to allocate federal aid to colleges and universities based in part on their affordability.

The percentage of U.S. undergrads who rely on the federal government for financial aid soared above 50 percent in the most recent survey from the National Center for Education Statistics. The data show that for the first time, a majority of students got federal help.

NPR's Claudio Sanchez reports for our Newscast unit:

"The new figures from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 2007 to 2011, the percentage of undergraduate students who depend on federal loans and grants jumped from 47 percent to 57 percent.

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Heading to college is confusing under the best of circumstances. But for many young people aging out of foster care, the challenges can be almost impossible to overcome.

Some schools in Texas host programs each year aimed at trying to help foster kids make the transition.


Since 2011, Governor Rick Perry challenged lawmakers to provide “a bold, Texas-style solution” to the challenge of affordable higher education: a $10,000 degree for Texas students.

In a recent press release challenging Texas schools to initiate the low-cost degree, Perry said that 13 schools in Texas already offer or are planning to offer such a degree.

We talked to Gardner Selby of the Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas to check the accuracy of the claim. Listen to our conversation using the player above and read the fact check online.

83rd Lege's Regular Session: What Happened, What Didn't

May 28, 2013
Bob Daemmrich/Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Todd Wiseman via Texas Tribune

It's been a whirlwind of an end to the 83rd Legislature's regular session, and with Monday's announcement of a special session, lawmakers aren't done. Here's a look at the deals reached and the measures that fell short during the 140 days of the regular session.