Monday, September 22, 2014

Bill Powers' State of the University Speech


"For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,"
2 Timothy 3:2

University of Texas Student Union -- Earlier this afternoon, University of Texas President Bill Powers delivered his final "State of the University" Address.  The speech combined lofty rhetoric with cries of poverty and excuses for cost explosion.  Watch the whole thing below:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Highlights:
  • "To be immodest for a moment, I'm proud of what we've done for the last eight and a half years."
  • Sigh: "We've become a much more diverse campus and we've successfully defended the need for diversity in the Fischer case.  We've established the Department of African and African diaspora studies and the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, and we're currently establishing a Department of Mexican American and Latina and Latino studies."
  • Lulz: "To those who think universities never reform themselves -- that universities never change -- just look at what we have done.  Yes, I'm proud of what the University has done over the last eight years."
  • Once again, lulz: "My first observation is that to meet these challenges, we'll need to be tough-minded and disciplined."
  • Dept of Obvious Statements: "Moneyball means that it's not enough that a project will produce more good than it costs.  It also has to be better at doing that than competing good projects.  Our task isn't just to weed out bad projects from good ones, although we certainly need to do that too.  Out task is to be sleective even among very good projects.  Our task is to select excellent projects."
  • "I think that all of this is actually related to discussions about productivity.  It is what the call for increased productivity should be about.  We need to make sure our detailed designs are producing what we want to produce on a larger scale, that every investment we make -- including our teaching time and our students' learning time -- advances the vision we have for our outputs.  We need to do it in a disciplined, tough-minded way.  If we are going to focus on being productive and efficient, this is the right approach.  We need to do more than just focus on the cost side, simply making our work as cheap as possible.  We will make more progress by making sure that what we do on a detailed level is tightly aligned with the overall outputs we are trying to produce.
    • Translation: Don't expect us to be able to justify all the money we spend.
  • "There is one more ingredient we need for success.  Design can do a lot, but it can't do everything.  We sorely need adequate resources, both for recurring operations and for capital projects.  As I have said, we are at or near the bottom of our peer group in terms of per-year, per-student state resources, including general revenue, Available University Fund proceeds, and tuition."
    • Translation: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

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