Texas Higher Ed Coalition Forms Student Group

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group of prominent Texans that formed earlier this year in opposition to controversial reform efforts, will today announce a spin-off group focused on students and young alumni.

Called Young Texans for Excellence in Higher Education, the organization has dozens of founding members, almost all of whom are tied to the University of Texas.

Keshav Rajagopalan, a former UT student body president and founding member of the group, said they’d be reaching out to students and alumni of Texas A&M University and other institutions around the state. “We, of course, hope this takes legs and we continue to gain support as we bring in other students around the state who are committed to this cause,” he said.

What exactly is that cause?

Natalie Butler, the current UT student body president, who is also one of the founding members, said, “We really want to make the message about ensuring the quality of their degree and making sure the UT they graduate from is the UT they decided to come to a number of years ago.”

Based on a statement released today, the group plans to focus on preserving the mission of the state’s flagship institutions, UT and A&M. Though, in the statement, the group also encourages “the continued development of excellence and accessibility throughout [the state’s] higher education system” and “the continued development of excellence and accessibility throughout our higher education system.”

Like a number of members of the original coalition, Butler testified at the recent inaugural hearing of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, a legislative committee created in response to the same turmoil that inspired the coalition’s formation. It will hold its next committee, which will focus on the role of university system regents, on Oct. 17.

Butler said she felt that the debate in the higher ed community had calmed down significantly in recent months but could still benefit from more student input. “I think the goal here is having a civil, well-rounded and representative conversation about higher education,” she said.          

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