Monday, September 21, 2015

Greg Fenves' lethargic Tribune appearence

"So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."
Revelation 3:16

We didn't attend Greg Fenves' Texas Tribune appearance this morning, but we did watch the livestream.  While it didn't inspire, it wasn't as actively terrible as it could have been .  We suppose going from bad to uninteresting represents modest progress.

Fenves discussed a number of topics, we'll discuss them by level of interest rather than chronologically:
  • Public Information -- By far, the most stimulating moment of the discussion came during the Q&A when a former employee of the organization asked about the open records process.  Apparently, she's been trying to get her personnel files from the University and has been stonewalled.  Fenves predictably deflected the question but it was still fun to watch him squirm.
  • "Research" -- Fenves spoke about "tying research and classroom education" closer together.  He also gave some vague edu-babble about "research" being some sort of cornerstone of academic "excellence."  Obviously, academic research can be a meritorious pursuit, but "research" is frequently a euphemism U.T. uses to dump their teaching load off on low-paid teaching assistants.
  • Tuition -- Fenves refused to rule out a tuition hike.  That being said, he didn't appear eager to kick that hornet's nest.  Fenves also laughably referred to University operations as "efficient."
  • Admissions -- Fenves gave the standard "everyone does it" company line.  According to Greg Fenves: "I think Bill Powers had done what other Presidents have done" and was "consistent with past practices."  Of course, not everyone allows the progeny of powerful legislators to attend law school despite having scored a 155 on his LSAT's.
  • Athletics -- Fenves predictably gave the optimistic case for the Football team.  For the first time in several years, this website actually believes the optimistic case might have merit.  Without making a specific commitment, he suggested the process to replace Steve Patterson would heat up after the NCAA basketball tournament.
  • Campus Carry -- Fenves correctly pointed out that the bill that passed earlier this year wouldn't change much.  He discussed how firearms are already permitted on the outdoor areas of campus and that the new law merely meant they were allowed indoors as well.  Still, his position was light years better than the one Bill McRaven took earlier this year.
  • Fischer Case -- Expect oral arguments to me made sometime in March and a decision no later than June.
Bottom Line: The Greg Fenves era might not be marked by great reform, but it could be a time when we stop actively making matters worse.  Time will tell.  Besides, Wallace Hall seems to like him....

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