18 July 2013

New Texas university: post-celebration reflections

On Tuesday, Texas Governor Rick Perry travelled to my campus to participate in a ceremonial signing of the legislation that will create a new university in South Texas. It was scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. I arrived at 9:00 a.m., and the place was almost packed then. I couldn’t have gotten close even if I’d gotten there earlier, because most of the theatre was reserved, and I didn’t rate. The picture at right shows the throng of cameras as Governor Perry signed the bill.

A few things that stood out for me.

First, we have a time line. The new Texas university will be in place in Fall 2015; one year later than was originally suggested back in December at the announcement. The medical school is schedule to open one year later, in Fall 2016. There’s a transition team in place that will be meeting with interested parties later this year. All student currently enrolled in one of the existing universities will automatically be enrolled in the new university.

Second, I was watching to see how often certain key words appeared. I was not surprised that “medical school” was mentioned about fourteen times. Research was mentioned about three times, about the same as economic development and the permanent universities fund.

Third, I was very concerned when one of the speakers talked about using “new technology” to make the university “affordable” to students. That, to me, was code for things like online courses, the more massive the better (MOOCs, in other words). Janet Stemwedel commented:

Danger is that the affordable thing you're left with won't be education.

Put those two things together, and I worry about resources being dumped into the medical school hand over fist while all the other colleges are told to do things on the cheap.

External links

'Every dream could become a reality': Perry, UT officials celebrate merger, medical school
Political unification touted as officials tour Valley with historic governor visit

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