Higher Education

Texas Tribune and the University of Texas at Austin

Texas’ next higher education commissioner will be Harrison Keller, a high-level administrator at the University of Texas at Austin and the founder of recent initiatives designed to improve college readiness and student outcomes. He will assume the post Oct 1.

The appointment was announced Wednesday after a unanimous vote of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Keller will succeed Raymund Paredes, who announced in January that he would step down after more than a dozen years in the state's top higher education job.

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From Texas Standard:

The U.S. population is aging, and many older adults have, or will have, some form of dementia. Right now, the health care workforce is not prepared to meet their needs, says sociologist Christopher Johnson. But Johnson is particularly poised to help fix the problem, as professor at the country's first master's of science program in dementia and aging studies, at Texas State University in San Marcos.

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From Texas Standard:

College has become a prerequisite for most high-paying jobs in the U.S., but college itself is out of reach for millions, and that number is growing. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that in the past 10 years, student loan debt has grown by more than 100 percent. People ages 19 to 29 hold more than $1 trillion in student debt, and that's just the Millennial generation. With a wide-open Democratic primary field, it's almost certain that college affordability will be an issue during the 2020 presidential campaign.

Adam Harris writes in The Atlantic that the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates have focused their attention on how to make college affordable in the future,  proposing free college tuition or policies that would allow students to leave school without debt.

Harris says that prior to the 2016 election, momentum had been building nationally for some sort of free college program. But once Donald Trump was elected president, that momentum shifted to the states.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a "failed" and "shameful" system that has been unfair to accused students.

American Council on Education

From Texas Standard.

Dr. Diana Natalicio has been called “the voice, the face, the strength and the sheer rock” of the University of Texas at El Paso. Now, after 45 years at the university and 30 years as its president, she has announced plans to retire.

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From Texas Standard.

After awarding full scholarships to 50 Nepalese students to attend the University of Texas at Tyler, the university revoked the scholarships because of what officials have called an “oversight.”

College access and affordability: It's a common topic in higher education — because college is the one place that can really be a catapult when it comes to moving up the economic ladder.

And yet, research has shown that low-income students make up just 3 percent of the students that attend America's most selective colleges.

Tamir Kalifa for the Texas Tribune

After subtracting student fees and paying for insurance, doctoral student Tom Millay takes home about $15,000 per year from a Baylor University stipend. But soon he could be taxed as though he earns three times more.

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From Texas Standard:

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is giving headaches to some of the state’s lawmakers, but it may be a self-inflicted ailment. In 2013, the Legislature scaled back the panel’s regulatory powers in an effort to give university leaders more of a role in determining what’s best for their students and institutions.

 

Courtesy of Austin Peay State University

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Harold Young, assistant professor at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.

Multi-directional pressures and demands from administrations, departments, students, and parents are universal in academic life. What is different for faculty of color is the racist micro-aggressions encountered while going about the tasks of engaging a diverse student body and fulfilling other responsibilities in a challenging social and political environment. They are charged with supporting their students who also share these experiences.

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On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with late Dr. John Hope Franklin, Ph.D.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President and CEO of Huston Tillotson University.

As the first female president and chief executive officer of the merged Huston-Tillotson University and the second female president in the college’s 140-year history, Burnette began her new role on July 1, 2015.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President and CEO of Huston-Tillotson University.

As the first female president and chief executive officer of the merged Huston-Tillotson University and the second female president in the college’s 140-year history, Burnette began her new role on July 1, 2015.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, vice president for student affairs and dean of students at The University of Texas at Austin.

Lilly collaborates with students, faculty and staff to help create a safe and welcoming campus where students can thrive through healthy learning environments.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. concludes his conversation with Dr. Rudy Jackson, Jr., Ph.D., founder and president of College Prep Professionals, LLC.

College Prep Professionals, LLC is one of the Atlanta, GA region’s most experienced and capable college preparation businesses.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Rudy Jackson, Jr., Ph.D., founder and president of College Prep Professionals, LLC.

College Prep Professionals, is one of the Atlanta, GA region’s most experienced and capable college preparation businesses.

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From Texas Standard:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has an idea to lower college costs across the board: get rid of what's called "tuition set-asides" for students who need financial help. Generations of Texans have benefited from the financial aid program, but Patrick calls them a hidden tax that unfairly burdens the middle class.

Yesterday, lawmakers began exploring the merits and demerits of Lt. Gov. Patrick's plan, but reporters David McSwane and Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News have crunched some numbers of their own.

 


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KUT News

After months of serving as interim dean, the Moody College of Communication announced Monday that Jay Bernhardt would continue on as the head of the school.

Bernhardt has been at the helm of the college since September of 2015, after long-time Dean Roderick Hart stepped down last August. In a statement announcing the confirmation, UT President Greg Fenves said Bernhardt was chosen after a months-long search. His appointment begins March 1.

Callie Richmond for Texas Tribune

State lawmakers met yesterday to discuss whether more Texas community colleges should offer baccalaureate degrees.


On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Dr. Edward D. Irons, noted educator, financial and business executive, and author of ‘Only By Grace.’

Irons spent more than sixty years as a university educator; a business, government and educational executive; a management and financial consultant to business, banks and to the U.S. and foreign governments including the United Nations Economic Commission on Africa. He served on a number of corporate boards and numerous nonprofit organizations.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Chaz Pitts-Kyser, Founder and Managing Editor of Careeranista.com and author of Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College.

Just 30 minutes of watching the nightly news is enough to make the average woman graduating from college want to crawl beneath the covers. The headlines always seem to come back to the sluggish economy, high rate of unemployment, fierce competition for jobs, and ultimately, just how unlucky young professionals are for having to build a career amid such misfortune.

The bad news? It really is a tough time for recent graduates. The good news? Armed with her new book, young women can gain the knowledge and insight needed to begin crafting rewarding careers despite any obstacles they may face.

On this edition of In Black America, producer & host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with the late Dr. James L. Hill, former senior vice president of The University of Texas at Austin and life-long educator, who helped the university make significant progress in the recruitment of students from underrepresented communities and build strong relationships with the East Austin community.

KUT News

More people are attending public colleges and universities in Texas, but members of the Texas House Committee on Higher Education heard this week that the increases are not across all groups.

Susan Brown, the assistant commissioner of Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for planning and accountability, told lawmakers on Tuesday that enrollment at Texas colleges is up by about 21,000 students right now, but enrollment among white students had declined for the third straight year.

Technology – and particularly smartphones – could reshape safety efforts on college campuses. At least that's the hope of some developers.

Several new apps offer quick ways for college students facing unsafe or uncomfortable situations to reach out to their peers, connect with resources on campus and in their communities, or notify law enforcement.

These apps for the most part target sexual assault and rape, amid growing national concern about the prevalence of incidents and criticism of the ways colleges and universities are handling them.

A bill that would have let millions of people refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate has failed in the Senate, after Republicans objected that it included a tax on the wealthy to pay for it. The measure would have allowed people with older loans to benefit from today's low interest rates.

The bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., didn't get past a procedural vote, falling by a 56-38 vote. Called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, it was shot down days after President Obama urged Congress to help ease the burden of student debt.

(This post was updated at 3:24 p.m. ET.)

President Obama signed an order on Monday that expands the number of Americans whose student loan payments will be capped at 10 percent of their monthly incomes.

CNN reports the new order would allow an additional 5 million borrowers to take advantage of the cap beginning in December 2015.

Bloomberg adds:

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Chaz Pitts-Kyser, Founder and Managing Editor of and author of Careeranista: The Woman’s Guide to Success After College.

Photo by KUT News

Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex W. Tillerson and his wife, Renda, are donating $5 million to the Cockrell School of Engineering. The money is slated to go toward the Engineering Education and Research Center which is expected to open in 2017.

It's a 430,000 square-foot facility that will allow UT Austin to expand its teaching, research and student project space.

Tillerson graduated from UT Austin in 1975 with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and serves on the school's Engineering Advisory Board and UT Development Board.  His sons, Robert and Michael, are also graduates.

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While school administrators work to clear the fog surrounding House Bill 5, the state's suite of educational changes, some are saying the bill could hurt the minority students’ chances to go to college.

A study by UT-Austin’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis found that HB 5 might lead school counselors to set minority students on a less rigorous degree plan designed for students who do not want to go to college. UT researchers say this is because school administrators often have low academic expectations for poor black students.

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This is the first of a two-part look at the University of Texas' Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), now halfway through their initial semester. Read Part One here.

So what it UT getting for its $5 million investment in edX? 

UT Psychology department chair James Pennebaker describes the money spent on edX as a "great investment." He isn't certain how education will look in the near future – but he said no one has that answer. 

"UT and any serious university has to be revolutionary in its thinking,” Pennebaker says. “We have to look forward to new technologies and teaching strategies.”

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