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Willisms

« Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 932 -- Texas Is America's Shining City On A Hill. | WILLisms.com | Weinergate Versus Obsessive Mark Foley Coverage. »

Rock The Ivory Tower: Reform Higher Ed.

Recently, there has been a great deal of controversy in Texas higher ed, particularly at Texas A&M and The University of Texas, about whether tuition and taxpayer dollars are being spent as efficiently and transparently as they should be.

Students are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and no great prospects for earning, and, increasingly, employers are saying that graduates are not even remotely prepared for the workplace.

Many professors and other faculty, it turns out, aren't really teaching that many, if any, classes. The excuse from the administration at our big public institutions is that they are busy researching. Research is a valuable endeavor (or can be, at least), but it turns out that only a tiny fraction of professors at UT are doing nearly all of the funded research.

Meanwhile, administrative staff and other overhead costs have continued to climb, and students and taxpayers just keep shoveling more and more money into the system, while taking on crippling levels of debt.

The question then turns to "excellence." It takes a lot of money and a lot of overhead and bureaucracy to create an excellent university, the thinking goes. Well, UT still has an embarrassingly low 4-year graduation rate, and both UT and A&M have not moved up in any significant way in any of those all-important national rankings over the past decade or so, even as their budgets have exploded.

Unfortunately, most media coverage on this issue has not really focused on affordability, transparency (isn't the press supposed to be pro-transparency?), accountability for tuition and tax dollars, or stagnation in the rankings. The focus has been on personalities. The reformers-- Governor Perry, his donors, and appointed Regents; versus the establishment-- State Senator Judith Zaffirini and UT President Bill Powers.

Lost in the shuffle: students, parents, taxpayers, and alumni. Not to mention big employers and entrepreneurs who need a high quality workforce to compete in the global economy.

Recently, a UT student decided to change the trajectory of the discussion:

Check out Rock The Ivory Tower on Facebook and Twitter.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 June 2011 08:44 AM

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