In Pursuit of Excellence in Higher Ed
Retiring University of Texas System Chancellor Bill Cunningham has floated an interesting plan to restructure and enhance Texas’ system of higher education, which in my opinion is long overdue. My six-year tenure as a regent of one of our state institutions convinced me that, among other structural problems, governance of the present system is too fragmented and is deficient in strategic focus. In the recent past, all restructuring attempts have met a quick political death; in fact, the last one in the mid-1980’s was withdrawn even before being proposed to the Legislature. Two points are in order about the current effort: one, the State should concentrate on it two existing flagship centers of excellence, UT-Austin and Texas A&M, as top tier doctoral research institutions and should not diffuse the available resources in catering to regional and parochial interests, and two, enrollment parity for economically and socially disadvantaged students will come only when these students are much better prepared for higher education by our public school system; until then, enhanced funding for remediation and retention will largely be wasted. More on the latter point in future issues.