The Big Conversation
The leaders of the University of Texas System installed Thursday a new policy on student admissions, presumably in hopes of closing the door on a controversy over allegations of powerful people pulling strings to get students into school.
The Tribune's Matthew Watkins writes:
System leaders have ordered multiple investigations into the process of deciding who gets into school, and critics have accused former university president Bill Powers of running a "back-door" system to help those with powerful connections.
One such inquiry, conducted by the investigative firm Kroll Associates, found Powers and other officials placed hundreds of "holds" on particular students' applications, allowing him to track their progress and possibly help them get into school. The firm's report identified 73 students with powerful connections who got into UT-Austin over a five-year span, despite GPAs below 2.9 and combined SAT scores of less than 1100.
Under the new system, university presidents would have much less latitude in admitting a student, only allowing them to do so if accepting that student meets criteria of the "highest institutional importance."
Regent Wallace Hall, an opponent of Powers and the now retired admissions policies, was not placated by the changes in the new policy. He said that he doubted that the new policy would work as promised — that a student admitted under extraordinary circumstances wouldn't take the slot allotted to another student. He also said that more investigation is needed of the old admissions policy.
“I think it’s a travesty that we don’t discuss these things,” Hall said. “They deserve discussion and understanding, and the public deserves to know what took place.”
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Analysis: A Bombastic Post, But Will There Be Aftershocks?, by Ross Ramsey — Texas Agriculture Sid Miller grabbed the headlines again this week — and in a way that makes him easy prey for late-night comics. But will it hurt him?
In Wealthy ZIP Codes, Freestanding ERs Find A Home, by Edgar Walters and Jeremy Lin — Five years after Texas became the first state to permit freestanding emergency rooms, more than 160 have set up shop around the state — a presence that suburban commuters and health insurers alike are finding impossible to ignore.
Cruz Adds Home State to March Primary Push, by Patrick Svitek — Fresh off a weeklong swing through the "SEC primary" states, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is turning his attention to his home turf, which is also set to vote March 1, 2016.
State's Role in Unhealthy Water Probed, by Neena Satija — State environmental regulators should have done more to protect the safety of drinking water for two small border communities in Webb County, defense lawyers argued Thursday in the criminal trial for two former water treatment plant employees.
Paxton Asks EPA to Halt Global Warming Plan, by Kiah Collier — Renewing his vow to sue if the answer is no, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday officially asked the Environmental Protection Agency to halt a sweeping plan designed to combat climate change while existing legal challenges from other states play out.
A&M Drops Bid To Host Presidential Debate, by Matthew Watkins — Texas A&M University has dropped out of the race to host a presidential debate in 2016, citing high costs and logistical challenges. Two other Texas sites remain in contention.
UT-Austin Team to Develop Campus Carry Plans, by Matthew Watkins — University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves announced Thursday that he has convened a group of students, faculty and staff to recommend policies for the school to comply with a new state law that will allow the concealed carrying of gun on college campuses.
Trump Exposes Another Difference Between Cruz, Perry, by Patrick Svitek — Bombastic billionaire Donald Trump's immigration plan has divided the two GOP presidential candidates from Texas, at least in tone.
Today's 31 Days, 31 Ways Story
Taking New Steps to Put an End to "Revenge Porn", by Liz Crampton — Texas has joined about two dozen states in passing a law taking aim at "revenge porn," which refers to sexually explicit images of individuals posted online without their consent.
Health agency expected to outline new Medicaid rates Friday, Austin American-Statesman
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BP settlement money flows to governments in far-flung places, The Associated Press
Texas lawyers lobby up in patent fight, The Hill
Amazon agrees to build distribution center in San Marcos, Austin American-Statesman
Celis wins new trial in falsely identifying as officer case, Corpus Christi Caller-Times
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Trump pushes Cruz out of the lead in Texas, Houston Chronicle
Hagen to seek District 64 seat, Denton Record-Chronicle
Quote to Note
“I think the first thing we have to say is that, for us, this is not politics. This is personal. That’s the big difference between Hispanic media and the rest. When Donald Trump is talking about undocumented immigrants and talking about denying citizenship to the children born here, he’s not talking about someone we don’t know. He’s talking about our parents, friends, coworkers and children that we know.”
— Univision's Jorge Ramos, in an interview with Politico, on the difficult relationship that has set up between Donald Trump and the Hispanic media
Today in TribTalk
The absurdity of tinkering with Texas history, by Jan Reid — As violent, cruel and bigoted as Texas history has often been, removing Confederate statues from the UT-Austin campus will do nothing to change that.
Money alone won't help Texas' public schools, by Robert Henneke — In a case before the Texas Supreme Court this fall, public schools will once again demand more government funding. But that’s not the solution to fixing our education system.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• The Texas Tribune's Trivia Night on Aug. 30 in Austin
• A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin
• A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont
• The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin