March18, 2013


Chair Elect Hillary Hart (civil, architectural, and environmental engineering) talked briefly about the joint meeting with Texas A&M University and the discussions and presentations that took place. Representative Branch, chair of the higher education commission since 2009, spoke about Senator Seliger’s House bill 15, which “calls for, among other things, more training for regents and how to be a Regent instead of something else.” Chair Elect Hart reported that Representative Branch also talked about the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund, which rewards excellence in university research and requires that the state must reward maintenance of excellence and not just growth. Representative Branch indicated that the taxpayers are focused on more timely graduation rates and better use of taxpayer funding, formula funding, and financial aid because the money is lost when the student quits and doesn’t graduate. While Chair Elect Hart said she did not totally agree with all that was said by the representative, she felt his talk was impassioned and emphasized the importance of higher education and the faculty.

Professor Hart also reported on the presentation of Mr. Fred Heldenfels IV, chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which she said had been heavily involved in regulation of late. Chair Heldenfels’ presentation focused on workplace requirements with a strong emphasis on the increasing need throughout the State of Texas for workers with post-secondary education. He noted that outcomes-based funding was a direct consequence of this need and explained the seven outcomes for student success as defined by the coordinating board (e.g., time-to-degree and STEM degrees) Chair Elect Hart said she expected that the coordinating board might be receptive to ideas from faculty members She also noted that outcomes-based finding will amount to no more than 10 percent of the budget allocations.

Lastly, Chair Elect Hart noted that online education issues were discussed at the joint meeting as well as how to talk to the media. With regard to the latter, she pointed out an interview guide the University media office has available.

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