Higher education

Texas Senate

TribBlog: No Fury Like A Wentworth Scorned

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth calls new Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall a "Johnny-come-lately opportunist" and says he knows who should have gotten the job: state Sen. Jeff Wentworth.

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Going the Distance

Increasing numbers of college students are attending classes, and even completing some degree programs, online — an innovation that could be welcome in an era of rising enrollments and shrinking budgets. But virtual higher ed has its critics, who say the distance learning model will never match what one lawmaker terms the "interpersonal Aristotle style" of education.

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Graphic by Jacqueline Mermea

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Ramsey on what the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll says about the governor's race, education, immigration, and other issues; Grissom on a far West Texas county divided over Arizona's immigration law; Ramshaw talks health care reform and obesity in Texas with a legendary Dallas doctor; M. Smith on the Collin County community that's about to break ground on a $60 million high school football stadium; Aguilar on the backlog of cases in the federal immigration detention system; Philpott of the Green Party's plans to get back on the ballot; Hu on the latest in the Division of Workers' Comp contretemps; Mulvaney on the punishing process of getting compensated for time spent in jail when you didn't commit a crime; Hamilton on the fight over higher ed formula funding; and my sit-down with state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin: The best of our best from May 24-28, 2010.

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Muliadi Soenaryo

Gaming the Systems

Should we base the funding of state universities on course completion rather than enrollment? The commissioner of higher education says yes. Some state lawmakers say no — not until we attack the manipulation of the financing formula by the higher ed lobby.

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Graphic by Jacob Villanueva

A Lousy Grade

More than two-thirds of Texans say their confidence in the state's public schools ranges from shaky to nonexistent, according to the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll. A majority of Texans believe that crime, low academic standards, lack of parental involvement and not enough funding are "major" problems that public schools face — but two-thirds say "too much religion in the schools" is not a problem.

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Caleb Bryant Miller, Jacob Villanueva

On the Records: Paycheck U.

Today we're adding another 17 agencies to our government salaries database, an extra 67,000 workers who collectively earn $2.9 billion in public payroll. The database now has records on more than 550,000 employees working at 62 of the largest state agencies, cities, universities, counties and mass-transit authorities.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

Data App: More University Pay

The top professors and administrators at Texas universities routinely earn between to $250,000 and $500,000 year, while presidents and chancellors earn up to $900,000, according to salary data for more than a dozen universities and university systems added today to the Tribune's public employee salary database. Some 57 employees at the University of Texas make more than $250,000; by contrast, only 13 employees at Texas Tech make that much.

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Caleb Bryant Miller

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Grissom on the transgender marriage conundrum, Hu on the workers' comp whistleblowers, M. Smith on the Texas GOP's brush with debt, Garcia-Ditta on why student regents should vote, Aguilar on the tripling of the number of visas given by the feds to undocumented crime victims, Hamilton on the paltry number of state universities with graduation rates above 50 percent, Ramshaw and Stiles on the high percentage of Texas doctors trained in another country, Ramsey and Stiles on congressmen giving to congressmen, Galbraith on how prepared Texas is (very) for a BP-like oil spill, and my conversation with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst: The best of our best from May 10 to 14, 2010.

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A Voice but No Vote

It took decades to get Texas lawmakers to allow students to sit on each university system's board of regents — and only on the condition that they can't vote. But most other states with student regents do grant voting privileges.

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wikipedia.org

The Graduation Gap

For years, Texas universities have focused on getting more students onto to their campuses. The hard part, it turns out, is getting them to leave in no more than six years.

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Of Mice and Men

When Gov. Rick Perry announced the establishment of the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, a public-private partnership between the Texas A&M University System and Lexicon Genetics, he said the $50 million high-level mouse laboratory, paid for through the Texas Enterprise Fund that he controls, would “attract millions of dollars for medical research and lead to the development of life-saving medical treatments and therapies” for everything from diabetes to cancer. Five years later, depending on who you ask, TIGM has either been a massive taxpayer-subsidized boondoggle or a blessing to scientists across the globe.

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Linda Rux

TribBlog: Diane Wouldn't

Barack Obama will apparently name his solicitor general, Elena Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School, to replace the retiring John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court, once again bypassing UT Law grad Diane Wood, who has now been on the president's short list twice.

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wikipedia.org

Stolen Bases

If you're wondering about the economic impact of the federal military base realignment and closure effort, look only as far as Texas, where two cities with shuttered bases are struggling to keep residents employed and spirits up, while one city with an expanded base is booming.

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Reeve Hamilton

Inman Inside

Every Friday since a blast at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners, graduate students at UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs have been treated to an insider briefing. The name of their course is Managing Crises, and their professor, Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, is dealing with a big one.

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Reeve Hamilton

TribBlog: Hotze, Perry and Gay Jesus

For a one-time-only performance that would have been under an hour, the saga of Tarleton State University’s “gay Jesus” play sure has been a long one. In the latest plot twist, a Tarleton State journalism student has uncovered a conservative activist's allegation that Gov. Rick Perry and his chief of staff were somehow involved.

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The Old Community College Try

At the Texas Capitol today, lawmakers will begin to look at how the state’s community college system fits into the overall picture of higher education. The House Higher Education Committee will review ways to increase the role of community colleges — not only in getting kids to stay in school but in graduating them more quickly and efficiently. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Trib reports.

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