28 December 2009

Are they finally going to get serious about grad school here?

The Austin American-Statesman reports this morning on the push for more higher educational institutions in our area of southern Texas. The University of Texas system might be leading the push (Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa pictured).

The headline is about prospects for a medical school, which always occupies a significant (I dare say occasionally disproportionate) amount of everyone’s attention.

But I’m much more interested in statements like this:

UT System officials also will consider expanding programs in science, technology, engineering and math – the so-called STEM fields that state officials have deemed a high priority – at the Valley's two public universities, UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American.

I’m a little leery of the wussy wording. They’ll “consider” expanding programs? I think I agree with the president of our neighbour university:

Juliet GarcĂ­a, UT-Brownsville president, welcomes the attention.

"The chancellor has put us on the radar screen in a very big way before the regents, and we're very pleased with that," she said. ...

She said expanding those programs would require additional state appropriations — hardly a sure thing in a time of tight budgets.

It is nice to hear the encouraging words, but I worry about “unfunded mandates.”

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