Tuesday, September 16, 2014

History Lesson: The Tuition Hikers selecting Bill Powers' replacement

"Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
Matthew 7:20

Yesterday, UT-Austin announced the search committee to select it's new president.  In 2004, UT-Austin passed a 57% tuition increase as part of a decade where its tuition increased 134%.  What does one have to do with the other?!?


In 2003, during one of the U.T.'s biannual cries of poverty, the 78th legislature passed tuition "deregulation."  Tuition "deregulation" transferred the authority to set tuition rates from the legislature to the Board of Regents.  As Tony McDonald wrote in 2009:
When the policy was proposed in 2003, my organization, Young Conservatives of Texas, opposed it from the beginning. YCT understood that the proposed policy would not “deregulate” higher education. It wouldn’t expand competition or end government favoritism, to allow the best providers to win in the battle for their customers, Texas students.

Instead, the policy merely transferred the power to set tuition and fees from the elected Texas legislature, a body that was accountable to the people, to an unelected body; the appointed boards of regents.

This is the underlying problem with the tuition deregulation.

What many conservatives who supported the tuition “deregulation” policy forgot was that our public universities are government agencies; no different than our department of transportation or department of public safety. Allowing them unlimited control to set the fees they charge Texas families would be no different than allowing the department of transportation to charge anything they would like for license plates.

Without restraints, government bureaucracies will always find some way to rationalize their need for more tax dollars. As President Ronald Reagan once wittily proclaimed: “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.”
The presidential search committee has recycled several of the key players from the tuition "deregulation" saga.  Several other members have demonstrated antipathy to affordability in Higher Ed.  Consider the following:
  • Robert Rowling - Former vice-Chair of the UT Board of Regents during the era.
In addition to these five who have explicitly supported tuition increases in the past, the search committee also features four additional members (Hicks, Hilley, Hillis, and Hutchinson) who have supported other lame-brained schemes of the administration.

It doesn't take a genius to see the foundation this search committee is laying.

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