Higher Education

Education
12:57 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

In Report, University History Departments Face Scrutiny

University of Texas at Austin students pass by the Main Building on their way to and from classes.
Tamir Kalifa, Texas Tribune

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, three conservative groups — the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the National Association of Scholars and the Texas Association of Scholars — will release a sure-to-be controversial report alleging that the University of Texas and Texas A&M University offer students "a less-than-comprehensive picture of history.”

The report’s rollout is part of a three-day policy orientation by the TPPF, an Austin-based think tank that has been tied to some of the state's most hotly-debated proposed higher education reforms. It signals a renewed push to reconsider the course offerings in the history departments of the state’s public universities, and particularly to boost the number of courses dedicated to the study Western Civilization.

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Education
6:35 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Coalition Publishes Study Touting Flagship Universities

KUT News

A group that formed in 2011 in response to a prominent push for higher education policy proposals it viewed as misguided released a report on Thursday that makes a case for the value of the state's flagship universities: the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education report was written by Michael McLendon, a professor of higher education policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University. He previously worked at Vanderbilt University, where he completed much of the work on the report.

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Austin
11:50 am
Fri November 23, 2012

UT’s New Strategy for Helping Students Find the Door

UT's continues to encourage a speedier graduation rate for their students.

The University of Texas’ graduation rate is under scrutiny as the school attempts different ways to increase the number of students graduating in four years.

In February a task force assembled by UT President Bill Powers offered 60 suggestions to encourage students to earn their degree more quickly.

In late August and early September, UT began a sort of branding campaign. The number 2016 (signifying the graduation date for incoming freshmen) began to appear all around campus: on shirts, on tote bags, and even on Twitter (as #2016 became a popular hashtag).

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Education
4:15 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

There's Oil on Them Thar Campuses!

Students in environmental science professor Jeffery Stone's class watch as a seismic shaker truck rolls through Indiana State University's campus.
Tony Campbell Courtesy of Indiana State University

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 5:14 pm

Imagine going to college and finding an oil rig on campus. That's becoming increasingly likely as oil and gas companies use a controversial technique commonly referred to as fracking to extract resources from land underneath campuses across the country.

Environmental science professor Jeffery Stone will never forget the day the earth shook on Indiana State University's campus in Terre Haute.

"They did it like in eight-second pulses, and you could feel the whole sidewalk wobble like an earthquake almost," Stone says.

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Education
7:13 am
Tue November 13, 2012

UT System May Construct $100 Million Austin Office

A view towards downtown Austin from the UT Tower.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will meet in Tyler this week and consider, among many things, whether to approve the construction of a system office building in downtown Austin that is projected to cost $102,417,000.

The UT System's downtown Austin offices are currently spread across five aging buildings — the oldest has been around for more than 130 years — with mounting maintenance costs. Officials determined that a change was in order. They decided that the best option would be to construct a 16-story building comprising 258,500 square feet of office space and garage capacity for more than 650 vehicles in a spot — close to the state Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin — where two of their current buildings sit.

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Education
7:15 am
Mon November 5, 2012

State College Funding Turns on Definition of 'Provide'

About 13 percent of UT's expenses are provided by the state.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Constitution says the state will “provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a University of the first class.”

In 1984, that meant about half of every dollar in higher education came out of the state budget. Today, it’s closer to 13 percent at the University of Texas at Austin and 22 percent at Texas A&M University in College Station.

So, at that level, is the state really providing for the sort of education championed in its founding document?

That’s fodder for debate. Lawyers could probably generate a room full of words over the obligations imparted by the word “provide.” The bigger question is whether the state is doing enough, and whether doing enough — whatever that entails — necessarily requires more money.

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Education
7:47 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Automatic Admission to UT Getting More Difficult

Some future students will have to rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class for automatic admission.
KUT News

The class rank requirements for automatic admission into the University of Texas at Austin are getting more stringent.

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class.

That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.

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Texas A&M
4:40 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Texas A&M Aims to Measure Student Success and Cost Effiency

Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), Chairman of Senate Higher Education Committee
Brandon Mulder

Today Texas A&M officials announced EmpowerU, a program aimed at monitoring the system’s efficiency at graduating its students.

Essentially, EmpowerU is A&M’s new public analytical website. It aggregates statistics of all student progress, and presents its data online. The idea is that individual institutions will set their own goals for improvement. EmpowerU’s website will publicly hold them accountable to quality of education and cost efficiency, benchmarking peer institutions against each other.

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Education
2:52 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

UT System Offers Free Online Courses - But College Credit Still Costs You

The University of Texas System logo is already featured on the edX welcome page.
edX

The University of Texas System Board of regents voted unanimously this morning to join an initiative to provide free online courses to anyone through a non-profit organization called edX.

Right now, classes offered through edX are not for college credit. Instead, participants can earn a "certificate of mastery." But the UT System has plans to change that in order to help enrolled students take the classes they need.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says that option would have a cost associated with it.

“What that tuition might be is going to have to be a decision made by the campus and, ultimately, by the board of regents," Cigarroa says. "So I can envision a multi-tiered approach. But, fundamentally, all the content that we provide in this massively open online course, you can have access for free, I can have access for free, our alumni can have access for free. But there’s also an opportunity for a multi-tiered approach.”

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Education
9:34 am
Wed October 10, 2012

Justices Return to Affirmative Action in Higher Ed

Students walk through the University of Texas, Austin, campus near the school's iconic tower on Sept. 27.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Wed October 10, 2012 5:48 am

The U.S. Supreme Court returns on Wednesday to the emotional issue of affirmative action in higher education. The court will once again hear oral arguments on the issue, this time in a case from the University of Texas.

Over the past 35 years, the court has twice ruled that race may be one of many factors in determining college admissions, as long as there are no racial quotas. Now, just nine years after its last decision, the justices seem poised to outright reverse or cut back on the previous rulings.

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Education
11:44 am
Fri September 28, 2012

Like $10,000 Degree, Perry Tuition Plan May Not Fit All

Texas Science Scholar Wesley Powers, a junior chemistry major from Midland, Texas, works on a 3-hour-long lab experiment at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.
Jerod Foster for Texas Tribune

Ashton Curlee, the ambitious daughter of two teachers, received official notification of her acceptance to the new Texas Science Scholar Program at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin on the first day of college.

“It’s a really awesome program,” said Curlee, a native of Monahans. “There’s a lot of good stuff that comes along with it.”

Savings top that list. If Curlee stays on track, maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 30 hours of course work each school year, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2016. Instead of paying more than $6,300 per academic year in tuition and fees — the current cost for a regular student — Curlee will pay $2,500 per year.

That adds up to a $10,000 degree, a notion that has taken on grail-like status in some Texas higher education circles as the state struggles to address rising tuition at its public universities.

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Education
4:20 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Texas SAT Scores Drop, But Participation Rates Surge

Shannan Muskop, Texas Tribune

A report from the Texas Education Agency on the state's 2012 SAT scores shows two things about Texas students over the past five years: more students are the taking the test, but they aren't performing as well.

More students are taking the college admissions test — especially Hispanics and blacks, whose participation rates have increased by 65 and 42 percent, respectively, since 2007. Students' scores, though, decreased from 2o11 by about five points across the board in reading, math and writing, continuing the downward trend of the past five years. 

“We are clearly building a college-going culture in Texas. The increased minority participation is important to the health of this state because of our changing demographics,” said Commissioner Michael Williams in a statement.

About 58 percent of 2012's graduating class took the SAT, which was about a 6 percent increase from the year before.

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Higher Education
9:17 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Gov. Rick Perry Calls for College Tuition Freeze

Gov. Perry speaking at the second annual Texas Tribune Festival. Gov. Perry called for a four-year college tuition freeze.
Spencer Selvidge, Texas Tribune

Texas Governor Rick Perry says he'll call for a four-year college tuition freeze. The comment was made at a Q&A session with Texas Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith at the Texas Tribune Festival this weekend.

In the interview, Perry proposed that students who enter college as freshmen could lock in a four-year tuition rate, says Texas Tribune Reporter Jay Root, who live-blogged the event. However, if a student takes longer than four years to graduate, he or she could face tuition increases.

Perry also said he is open to an “open and vigorous debate” about in-state tuition costs and supported providing in-state tuition for some children of undocumented immigrants.

Perry's announcement came just a day before The Dallas Morning News announced that Texas students are paying 55 percent more for tuition and fees at state universities than they were a decade ago. According to the analysis, tuition has increased three percent this year alone.

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Higher Education
8:28 am
Thu August 30, 2012

UT Drops Investigation of Controversial Gay Parenting Study

UT associate professor Mark Regnerus' work on gay parenting will not be subject to an academic investigation.
University of Texas

The University of Texas announced yesterday that it will not launch a formal investigation into a controversial study on gay parenting.

The study, written by associate professor Mark Regnerus and published in the journal Social Science Research, questioned the parenting abilities of gay couples. An internal audit by Social Science Research found the study was “severely flawed.” Others seized upon the fact that the research was funded by the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation, two socially conservative groups.

But UT-Austin says a four-member advisory panel composed of senior faculty members concluded there is not enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

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Education
1:41 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

UT Faculty & Staff to Get Merit-Based Pay Increases

UT-Austin faculty and staff will soon see merit-based pay increases.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

One of Austin’s biggest employers is getting ready to hand out raises.

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers says merit-based pay increases for faculty and staff will go into effect Sept. 1.

The salary increases will vary by department and Powers says they aren’t huge – but will help the university hang on to talented faculty and staff.

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