Saturday, October 26, 2013

UT Administrative Corruption Goes National

Phenomenal summary of the scandals at the University of Texas in October's American Spectator:
IN TEXAS AND across the country, too many college students are paying too much and learning too little, and not much is being done about it. Texas reformers have been pushing transparency legislation, with the hope of cultivating a better-informed public that will vote with its pocketbook for schools and programs that provide a sound return on investment. But if Wallace Hall, a transparency-championing University of Texas (UT) regent appointed by Governor Rick Perry in 2011, is successfully impeached by the Texas statehouse, reformers’ hopes may die with his ill-fated tenure.

Right now Texans are at war over higher education. Tuition prices at public universities in the state have increased around five percent annually every year since 1994. According to the Institute for Research on Higher Education, Texas “students and their families, already burdened by tuition hikes, have been forced to assume more responsibility for funding financial aid, too, through set-asides from tuition increases.” The effect is felt most by the middle class. Lower-income students have access to scholarships, grants, and other need-based aid. Higher-income parents have the luxury of being able to cut a check. Families in between are being squeezed.


Meanwhile, as prices rise, the value of a university education is falling. A recent poll found that 90 percent of Texas voters believe we need to measure the effectiveness of the material learned in college, a point underscored by the fact that roughly half of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed.


A genuine crisis exists in the world of Texas public university trustees, who are charged with ensuring, in the words of the American Council of Trustees, “both the fiscal well-being of the institution…and the quality of the education it provides.” For too many years, trustees, both in Texas and nationally, have neglected both of these responsibilities.

While the public is well aware of rising costs—it’s hard not to notice the steadily atrophying balance of your own checking account!—and even grade inflation, the  opposition of the powerful education lobby exists just below the purview of the man and woman on the street.


ENTER WALLACE HALL. According to his critics, he is the hatchet man for—at least in the standard and ultimately distracting media narrative—Rick Perry’s war on UT President Bill Powers. This summer, a House committee was formed to investigate whether articles of impeachment should be brought against Hall.


In a letter to the impeachment committee, Hall’s attorney detailed the results of his previous records requests. Likely the most incendiary are the following: 
Regent Hall found correspondence on behalf of a [state] Representative inquiring about the admission of the Member’s adult son or daughter to a UT Austin graduate school. Although the dean had previously stated the applicant did not meet the school’s standards and would need to either retake the graduate admission exam or attend another graduate school first, upon information and belief, the son or daughter was in fact admitted without retaking the test or attending another school.

Regent Hall found other correspondence in which a [state] Senator sought special consideration for an applicant who had been rejected, but was strongly supported by another Senator. In the communication, the Senator seeking special treatment reminded the UT Austin official of recent legislative action taken to benefit The University. Upon information and belief, the rejected applicant was subsequently admitted to UT Austin.
Hall’s defenders believe we are looking at something like the Texas doppelgänger of the 2009 University of Illinois “Clout Scandal,” in which a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed that students with connections to politicians and trustees were admitted despite their lack of requisite academic qualifications. The revelations led to the resignation of a number of those involved.

Only time will tell how events play out here in Austin. But one thing is certain: While Texans sit enthralled by the coming clamor in the Capitol, too many students will continue to pay too much, and learn too little, and not much is being done about it.
Higher education is a rip-off.  Far too many kids are taking on far too much debt to drink too much beer, have too much sex, and have their heads filled with far too much progressive garbage.  God Bless Wallace Hall for attempting to introduce a modicum of accountability at America's third wealthiest university.

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