Members of a recently formed University of Texas System task force focused on boosting "blended and online learning" and improving "university excellence and productivity" made a trip earlier this month to Arizona State University, where President Michael Crow has made bold changes to the traditional university model. One student leader was not encouraged by the excursion, and let the regents know in a new letter.
Natalie Butler, the student body president of the University of Texas, joined regent Alex Cranberg, regent Brenda Pejovich and others on the trip, which was mentioned in emails recently made available by The Texas Tribune.
Discussions of higher educations and reforms are bound to touch on Crow's efforts at ASU, where he is attempting to build what he calls the "New American University." Crow recently told the Tribune, “You can’t operate the great public university on the New England liberal arts college model. You can’t make a university great while being exclusive. You have to make the university great by achieving tremendous things while being inclusive.” He has pushed ASU to not only improve its quality but expand its enrollment in the process.
Crow boasts that, in the last nine years, the university has tripled its research activity while adding 23,000 students to the university with only minimal faculty expansion. Also, the ASU faculty has rapidly increased its presence in groups like the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. It now boasts three Nobel laureates.
However, on the visit, Butler, an Arizona native, did not see a university she wanted hers to become. Instead, she saw the university that she passed over to attend UT. After returning from the trip, Butler penned a letter to the regents outlining what she believes are the differences between UT and ASU and cautioned against using the latter as a model.
Here is the letter: