Tribpedia: Higher Education

Gaming the Systems

Rep. Mike Villarreal during New Day Rising.
Rep. Mike Villarreal during New Day Rising.

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.

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.

Data App: More University Pay

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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.

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.

A Voice but No Vote

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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.

Texas Southern University had the state's lowest six-year graduation rate — 12 percent in the most recent data. But colleges throughout Texas have struggled to get more students to the finish line.
Texas Southern University had the state's lowest six-year graduation rate — 12 percent in the most recent data. But colleges throughout Texas have struggled to get more students to the finish line.

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.

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.

Admiral Bobby Ray Inman
Admiral Bobby Ray Inman

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.

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.

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.

Borrow and Mend

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New federal student loan reforms, passed along with controversial health care reform legislation, will shore up Pell Grants for tens of thousands of college students in Texas — and save the feds a projected $68 billion by cutting private banks out of financial aid.

State Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano
State Rep. Brian McCall, R-Plano

TribBlog: McCall's Off to College [updated]

Brian McCall will apparently be the next chancellor of the Texas State University System. The board of regents picked the state representative, a Plano Republican, as the sole finalist to replace Charles Matthews in that job. They'll make They made the announcement on Monday.

Skipping the Beach

Members of the UT-Austin University Democrats said goodbye to a Spring Break filled with fun in the sun... and hello to the vacant stares of congressional staffers today.

TribWeek: In Case You Missed It

Thevenot on the non-stop wonder that is the State Board of Education and its latest efforts to set curriculum standards, E. Smith's post-election sit-down interview with Bill White at TribLive made some news and got the November pugilism started, Ramshaw on whether it makes sense for the state to call patients and remind them to take their pills, and on the state's botched attempt to save baby blood samples for medical research, Hamilton's interview with Steve Murdock on the state's demographic destiny, M. Smith on whooping cranes, fresh water, and an effort to use the endangered species act to protect them both, Grissom on potties, pickups, and other equipment purchased with federal homeland security money and Stiles' latest data and map on where that money went, Aguilar on the "voluntary fasting" protesting conditions and treatment at an immigrant detention facility, Kreighbaum on football, the new sport at UTSA, and Philpott on Rick Perry and Bill White retooling their appeals for the general election. The best of our best from March 8 to 12, 2010.

Barbara Cargill
Barbara Cargill

"We're Outnumbered"

At Thursday's State Board of Education meeting, as conservatives had their way with social studies standards, voting to limit the discussion of race and gender issues and to challenge the notion of separation of church and state, Democratic members were left to sulk and seethe — and walk out.

2010: White Starts the Argument [Updated]

Democrat Bill White said he won't rely on "Soviet-style budgeting" and "hot air politics" if he's elected governor, and said the state should make education its first priority and would be better off with a governor who's got business experience when it comes to economic development.

The University of Texas tuition increases 2009, 2010 and 2011
The University of Texas tuition increases 2009, 2010 and 2011

TribBlog: UT System Regents Hike Tuition

The cost of higher education at UT schools will rise between 9 and 12 percent over the biennium, one in which officials fear steep cuts in the state portion of higher education financing.

TribBlog: Financial Aid May Face Budget Ax

About three-fourths of the Higher Education Coordinating Board's budget is student financial aid, a large portion of which the board proposes to cut in a mandated 5-percent reduction plan for all state agencies.

The Old College Try

Since 1999, the number of "dual-credit" students — those who take college courses while still in high school — across Texas has ballooned from fewer than 12,000 to more than 91,000. It's a trend that's likely to continue as state and local policymakers search for ways to better align curricula and to push more kids to continue their education. “Schools have started to look at it as great for kids who might not have thought they were college material,” says an official at the Higher Education Coordinating Board. “It’s both a gifted-and-talented program and a college-accessibility program.”