Category Archives: Technology

Runaway tuition: A challenge for students, parents and schools



University of Iowa
1981-82 cost: $1,834
Inflation adjusted: $4,538
2011-12 cost: $8,750
Additional cost beyond inflation: $4,212

Iowa State University
1981-82 cost: $1,640
Inflation adjusted: $4,058
2011-12 cost: $7,622
Additional cost beyond inflation: $3,564

University of Northern Iowa
1981-82 cost: $1,520
Inflation adjusted: $3,761
2011-12 cost: $7,426
Additional cost beyond inflation: $3,665

If other things jumped in cost that much …

1981 cost: $1.48
Inflation-adjusted: $3.66
2011 actual cost: $2.49

1981 cost: $0.84
Inflation-adjusted: $2.08
2011 actual cost: $1.49

1981 cost: $2.24
Inflation-adjusted: $5.54
2011 actual cost: $3.19

Iowa’s two largest universities expect to pocket millions of dollars in extra tuition revenue next fiscal year, with the vast majority going to pay for additional faculty, programs aimed at lowering dropout rates and other student services, officials said.

That decision comes as the cost of earning a four-year degree in Iowa at a public university continues a steep march upward and pushes students to take on more debt, which, at $26,066 per graduating student, is the fourth-highest average in the country.

In the past 30 years, the average cost of tuition and fees at an Iowa public university has jumped 707 percent, more than four times the rate of inflation. College costs have increased each of the past 30 years for students and their families. Continue reading

A_M System Regents Set to Meet Thursday – Box Wants Open and Honest Dialogue Regarding “Seven Breakthrough Solutions.

Thursday marks a big set of meetings for the Texas A_M System Board of Regents.

Among the items on the agenda are discussions differential tuition increases for four A_M colleges — architecture, business, engineering, and veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences. Continue reading

Continued Controversy – UT, A_M Faculty Productivity Criticized in Studies — and Studies Criticized, too


Two new studies say that professors at Texas’ top public universities aren’t very productive — but critics say those studies are flawed.

Empty Classroom - Times of Texas

The studies — one examining the University of Texas at Austin , the other highlighting Texas A_M University — come during intense academic and political debate over the mission and performance of the state’s flagship public universities.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit research group, found that only a small portion of UT-Austin faculty teach the majority of classes. Some faculty do almost no teaching, nor do they bring in many outside research dollars.

“There is clearly room for improvement in terms of faculty productivity,” Richard Vedder, the center’s director and an Ohio University economist, said in a statement. “Simply by having faculty teach more students or courses, students and taxpayers will benefit significantly by reduced university costs.” Continue reading

Data Shows Massive Disparity in Professor Productivity at UT-Austin

By Sibyl West | by Richard Vedder, Christopher Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe

If bottom 80 percent were half as productive as top 20 percent, tuition could be cut in half

Victoria Falls - Times of Texas

AUSTIN – At a time of alarming tuition costs and economic uncertainties, an analysis of the preliminary data released earlier this month by the University of Texas System shows one of the state’s flagship universities could make tuition vastly more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity conducted the study titled “Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin.” The study assesses faculty productivity at UT-Austin in terms of both research and teaching by delving into the data on faculty compensation, teaching loads and external research grant awards released by the University of Texas system.

“Our analysis shows that there is clearly room for improvement in terms of faculty productivity at UT Austin,” said Dr. Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and a co-author of the study.  “Simply by having faculty teach more students or courses, students and taxpayers will benefit significantly by reduced university costs.” Continue reading

What Exactly Are the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions?”

Seven Breakthrough Solutions - Times of Texas
There has been so much controversy surrounding the “seven breakthrough solutions”, we thought we would post them with full downloadable PDF solutions, so you can read and decide for yourself what the fuss is all about. Continue reading

About 30,000 Fewer Students Would Get Texas Grants Under Proposed Budget Compromise

Higher education officials estimate nearly 30,000 fewer students would get Texas Grants under financial aid decisions made Monday by legislative negotiators.

A total of 106,000 students got Texas grants in the current two-year budget period.

The budget proposal would cover 77,300, including all 44,200 of those who are renewals and the rest students getting first-time awards.

The vote on higher education funding came as House and Senate negotiators made final decisions on a state budget plan for the next two years. They plan to formally vote on the overall budget Thursday, sending the compromise to the full House and Senate for consideration.

The financial aid reduction is the best higher education officials could have hoped for since it followed the more generous Senate proposal. Continue reading

College-Level Scam

By MQSullivan

Apparently our state’s colleges and universities don’t have enough to do, so they’re trying to get permission to compete with private-sector telecomm providers. Given how little time so many university employees devote to students, at ever rising tuition rates, one wonders just how expensive this foray will be for taxpayers.

Rising Cost of Public Education  - Times of Texas - Saturday Evening Post

The Texas Senate’s prime apologist for the higher education status quo, State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (R-Laredo) is trying to let universities sell telecomm services already provided by multiple private sector firms. Worse, she would allow the universities to be shielded from competitive bidding when going after contracts with other state agencies.

(Remember, Sen. Zaffirini is the one took an eltist tone last week by implying that those people without advanced degrees have no business commenting on the operations of our universities; we should just shut-up and pay the bills.) Continue reading

Editorial: Pass These Bills on Higher Ed, Water Plan Money, Smoking Ban

Most college students drop a course on occasion. Some drop them often, change majors on a whim or drop out of school entirely.

These students have wasted more than their own time and tuition money. There’s also the lost investment that taxpayers made in subsidizing their education.

Texas has a weak record in keeping undergraduates focused on completing their coursework: It ranks third among states in the amount it spends on students who drop out their first year. Measured over five years, that adds up to $471 million in taxpayers’ money. Continue reading

Austin’s Long on Ambience, But Short on Tech Talent

Joel Trammell and Larry Warnock, Local Contributors

We have an engineering talent shortage in Austin.

There. We said it.

Let’s be clear. Austin has an abundance of so many things. It is absolutely the best place to live. In fact, many tech leaders will tell you they start their companies here because they like living in Austin. Our city is full of creative, talented people.

UT Austin - Times of Texas

But for the 100 technology CEOs gathered Thursday by the Austin Technology Council at the 2011 CEO Summit, talent was a significant topic. While discussing how the industry can solidify Austin’s place as a top market for technology, local CEOs shared their concerns about the shortage of engineering talent. The overwhelming majority of leaders said they need engineers, computer scientists, programmers and developers to accelerate Austin’s growth in the industry.

On Thursday, 100 tech CEOs spent the day discussing three core issues: two based on recruiting and training engineering talent. We know when it comes to building a leading technology center, markets with the most talent win. In this industry, engineers create intellectual property that create jobs and ultimately, ignite regional economies. Continue reading

Job Market Still Tough for Local College Grads

Some seniors have jobs lined up but others are uncertain of their future.

By Alexander Pyles

Three weeks ago, University of Maryland, Baltimore County student Justin Hare was feeling anxious.

The senior mechanical engineering major was still without a job, he said, despite spending the last six months sending out applications and interviewing with four different companies. After five years of schooling and a bachelor’s degree, Hare wasn’t sure what his next move would be.

But then he got the call. And then another. And another.

Hare went from zero offers to three, and has accepted a job with an engineering firm in Washington, D.C., where he’ll start work on June 6. Continue reading

Are High-Poverty Schools Educating the Poor to Remain so?

By Mike Green

Each year, many of the 15 million students enrolled in public secondary schools ask the same question: What’s the point of staying in school if the choices are a minimum-wage job upon graduation or a minimum-wage job now?

These students have astutely recognized a pitiful paradigm for far too many students enrolled in public education institutions.

Education is the key to success,” proclaims the marketing of myriad organizations, companies and institutions. Yet, even high school dropouts are smart enough to read between the lines. If “education” is the key to success, then thousands of public schools are not educating students, as many of them graduate with worthless diplomas and a marketing mantra that dissipates along with the music from Pomp and Circumstance. Continue reading

Analysis: RedState Savages Dewhurst on Higher Education

By William Lutz

RedState, one of the most popular conservative blogs nationwide, has never been a fan of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

RedState Logo

The blog’s editor, Erick Erickson regularly compares Dewhurst to former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, and that’s not a compliment in conservative circles. But the blog took its attack on Dewhurst to a new level Wednesday in a blog post lambasting Dewhurst for setting up a stacked Senate committee to attack Gov. Rick Perry‘s higher education reforms and his appointees to the University of Texas system Board of Regents.

Dewhurst has sometimes come under attack in conservative circles, and I will admit that I have been one of the ones who has come to his defense over the years.

I understand the culture of the Texas Senate encourages compromise, and — from 2003-08 — I thought Dewhurst did a pretty good job getting most of the key planks of the conservative agenda through the Texas Senate largely intact, and some of the items the Senate killed needed to die. But I cannot and I will not defend Dewhurst’s support of liberal university administrators, his attack on the few conservatives left in higher education, and his thinly-veiled shot at the governor’s conservative policies. RedState is right on target here, and I will have a lot more to say on this topic in the coming days. Simply stated, the creation, composition, and charge of the Joint Oversight Committee On Higher Education Governance, Excellence And Transparency is a slap in the face to conservatives who have supported and defended Dewhurst over the years. Continue reading

HBJ 40 Under 40 Winners Honored – Keynote: Jeff Sandefer

By Casey Wooten, Reporter

Jeff Sandefer - Times of Texas

Forty of Houston‘s top young professionals were honored Thursday at the Houston Business Journal 40 Under 40 awards, held at the House of Blues.

Delivering the keynote this year was Jeff Sandefer, a five-time entrepreneur and founder of the Austin-based Acton School of Business.

Sandefer’s speech was largely reflective, stressing that the crowd of young Houston up-and-comers focus on successes beyond the corporate ladder.

“Winning the rat race will not bring you happiness, satisfaction or fulfillment. The winner of the rat race is still a rat,” he said.

To that effect, Sandefer said young professionals should take the “hero’s journey” over the “fool’s errand,” citing three key goals they should strive for in their lives and careers.

Young people should find their calling, should set clear moral guardrails, and must serve a deeper meaning beyond oneself.

After the keynote, master of ceremonies Russ Capper, co-host of the BusinessMakers Radio Show handed out the 2011 40 Under 40 awards.

The event – part of the four-day-long HBJ Celebrate! Enterprise conference and forum – was sponsored by Sterling Bank and co-sponsored by Pannell Kerr Forster of Texas PC, House of Blues – Houston, and Houston Young Professionals Endeavor.

A full list of the winners can be found here.

Tillerson: The U.S. Public Education System for Children Needs Fundamental Change


AUSTIN — As Texas politicians debate whether to reorient universities toward teaching rather than research, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. gave a warning.

Rex Tillerson - Times of Texas

Rex Tillerson said Thursday that he employs 1,200 people with doctorates, and he relies on university research to push energy technology ahead. If Texas or the U.S. cannot produce, he will turn elsewhere.

“As a private-sector international global company, we’re going to go where we can find the solution. We have to,” he said during a panel discussion at the University of Texas sponsored by the Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas.

“I hope we can find a lot of [scientists] here, because this has been the foundation for us. This is still the place we go to for most of our academic talent, the United States,” he said.

Tillerson stepped into a hot debate on a subject dear to the Irving oil company, one of the few energy companies that still employ a group of scientists to do basic research independent of any new product.

As some of the university system regents appointed by Gov. Rick Perry consider implementing sweeping programs to put more emphasis on teaching, the academy, co-founded by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, held a panel discussion Thursday on the importance of research. Most of the panelists, including Tillerson, had supported Hutchison financially when she challenged Perry for governor. Continue reading

Texas Public Agree: We Need to Reform Higher Ed so That it Provides Students with a Better Education at a Lower Cost

By Erick Erickson

Next year’s U.S. Senate primary in Texas offers a wide range of choices. RedState has previously noted our strong preference for either former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz or former railroad commissioner Michael Williams – both of whom have proven themselves as articulate and reliable champions of conservative principles. On the next tier are former Texas secretary of state Roger Williams and current railroad commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones, whose commitment to conservative principles may be somewhat shakier but at least are mouthing the right words so far in this campaign.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst - Times of Texas

And then there is Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, or as I like to call him, DewCrist.

Much like the former Governor of Florida turned ambulance chaser, DewCrist’s conduct as lieutenant governor has been consistent: whatever advances his political aspirations at that moment, he’s for. Obviously, it worked well for him during his first two terms. But in the first few months of his third term – the one in which his path toward higher office has finally cleared – his continuing to play both sides of the fence is costing Texas conservatives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make historic policy gains. Continue reading

The Next Big Thing – Startups Spring to Life at UT

By Tom Gerrow

Long hours, low pay and only a small chance of success—welcome to the world of startups. But the potential to make it big, to grow something from scratch, often proves irresistible.

finger pointing on blackboardSeasoned entrepreneurs know the siren’s song of success and have war stories about failed ventures. They know a good idea and enthusiasm aren’t enough. Yet even with a crippled economy, the university has renewed its entrepreneurial spirit, creating an extensive support system that gives aspiring entrepreneurs who do want to take the risk their best chance at success.

Courses at McCombs, the Cockrell School of Engineering, the School of Law and other academic departments cover different aspects of entrepreneurship and how to take technologies to market. Programs like 3-Day Startup, Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly, Moot Corp) and Idea2Product help new ventures take their first steps. And others push startups further toward creating viable businesses, including Texas Venture Labs and the Austin Technology Incubator.

To see this in action we talked to the founders of three companies—each in different stages of development, but all with university roots—to find out how they used the available resources to help launch their new ventures. Continue reading

Wentworth Says he’s Not in Running for A_M Chancellor

Texas senator will ‘wait and see if the call comes’

By Mary Tuma

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth - Times of Texas

Although his name has arisen as a possible successor to retiring Texas A_M University System Chancellor Mike McKinney, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) doesn’t appear to be in the running, at least not yet.

The Republican lawmaker says he has not received a call from A_M yet. When asked if he would accept such a position, Wentworth replied he would have to just “wait and see if the call comes.” Past opportunities, said the Republican lawmaker, have come at the behest of university system leaders. Continue reading

Why Rick Perry Should Run for President

Fresh from delivering a major address to the RNC, Texas Gov. Rick Perry as GOP presidential candidate is going viral even while the candidate himself insists that he is not running. On that, I believe him. I do not think he is running. But I also believe he should, and may be persuaded to, reconsider. Here are a few of the reasons the Texas governor would make a formidable candidate for the presidency. Continue reading

Take Rick Perry Seriously. Ignore Chris Christie and Paul Ryan.

By Jonathan Bernstein

The latest shuffling of GOP presidential contenders has produced another round of signs that Republicans wish they had another candidate, in the form of renewed speculation about Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Rick Perry. I’d take the prospect of a Perry candidacy very seriously. Christie and Ryan — not so much.

These types of rumors are basically a function of the way the process works. There are three years of “invisible” primary, during which very few public events occur, but during which a lot of the behind-the-scenes jockeying takes place. That leaves reporters and commentators needing to pay attention to a very important process, but with very little to say. So every rumor gets inflated.

This process has in fact been going on since fall 2008, and any candidate who began now from a standing start would be at a tremendous disadvantage. In my view, both Christie and Ryan would be in that category; I find it very hard to believe they could secure the resources (money, endorsements, staff, and others) need to seriously contest the race. Candidates already half-in (Sarah Palin and Mitch Daniels) are in better shape, as are those who clearly are in a position to jump in running. The only two who qualify on that score are Jeb Bush and Rick Perry. Continue reading

UT Regent Cranberg – Supports Cigarroa in Call for Greater Transparency and Data-Driven Decision-Making

Two new appointees to the University of Texas Board of Regents have been peppering UT administrators with frequent, detailed requests for data, prompting one university president to complain and a key lawmaker to accuse the regents of “micro-managing.”

UT regents chair Gene Powell responded by saying that the complaints stemmed from a  request from regent Alex Cranberg because it had been misinterpreted as a request from  a task force, and not Cranberg’s independent request. But he added he asked his fellow regents to try “to be reasonable and compassionate as a board so we don’t overload the staff.”

“Some of the campuses have gotten a little tired of the requests. They may have been pushed a little too far,” Powell said. But, he added, regents have a right to request information. “When do you tell a regent he can’t do his constitutional duty to manage these schools?” Continue reading

UT Regents Cranberg and Pejovich – Gathering Information to Study, “Fiduciary Responsibility”, says Chairman Powell

On the same day that University of Texas System regents unanimously agreed to refrain from micromanaging the state’s largest university system, at least one regent seemed to do just that by requesting records on individual faculty members‘ workloads, average grades for each undergraduate course and student evaluation scores of teachers, as well as a timeline for producing those materials, emails obtained by the American-Statesman show.

Regent Alex Cranberg requested the materials for each course taught in the 2009-10 academic year at the UT System’s nine academic campuses, according to the emails. One email said Regent Brenda Pejovich joined Cranberg in the request, but officials said in interviews that she had not done so. Continue reading

A Stricter Version of Conservatism Takes Root

Jason Embry, Commentary

The 2011 legislative session is nearing its end, and the Republican-controlled body has struggled at times to find consensus on fixing the state’s budget shortfall.

An important reason why a consensus has not been reached is that once-feasible options for fixing the budget have lost favor.

I’ve talked before in this space about the rainy day fund, a $9 billion pot of money raised through oil and gas taxes. The Republican-majority Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry nearly emptied that fund to help fix a smaller budget shortfall in 2003. In 2005, Perry called for using it again to create the Emerging Technology Fund, which invests state dollars in startup technology companies and awards research grants to universities.

But this year, despite the fact that the fund contains billions more than it did in either of those years, and despite the fact that schools and other services face sizable spending cuts, Perry has said that the fund should not be used to balance the budget over the next two years. Continue reading

Dell to Give $5 Million for UT Social Innovation Competition

Dell Inc. will give $5 million to the University of Texas over the next five years to expand a competition that encourages college students worldwide to come up with creative solutions to social problems.The company already is the title sponsor for the Dell Social Innovation Competition. The competition is operated by UT’s RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, which is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Continue reading

TX College Democrats Reveal Petition Against Budget Cuts

With only two weeks remaining in the 82nd legislative session, college students say they are not ready to give up the fight to fund higher education in Texas.

Members of the Texas College Democrats held a press conference in Austin to reveal their “Petition to Express the Grievances of Students.”

“Texas Republicans in the state House do not care about college students,” president of the TCD, David de la Fuente said. Continue reading

Texas Pilots Innovative College-Readiness Program for High School Students

In Texas, the higher-education community has been engaged in a fierce debate regarding higher education reform. While many feel reform is necessary, others have been reluctant to set change in motion.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Public Policy Foundation have both championed reform measures that involve tying accountability to productivity. While higher education institutions have not been fully in favor of reformation measures, William Powers Jr., who is the president of the University of Texas, said the perception that schools are in a defensive position is “inaccurate and I’d even say ironic.”

David Guenthner, who is a spokesman for the Association of American Universities, agrees that the two sides are likely to reach an agreement soon. Continue reading

Jeb Bush’s Education Ideas Draw National Attention

Republican Party (United States) presidential ...

Image via Wikipedia

By Lesley Clark McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush left the Florida governor‘s office in 2007, but his influence still holds sway in Tallahassee, and now is felt in state capitals from New Jersey to Oregon, where lawmakers are eager to adopt his ideas on how to improve education.

Since leaving Tallahassee, the popular former Florida governor has developed a national reputation as an education powerhouse and champion of vouchers and charter schools. His latest recognition: the Bradley Foundation, a conservative group that says it shies away from lauding politicians. Last week, it gave the Republican its Bradley Prize, a distinction that carries a $250,000 stipend.

“The reforms that he put in place during his two terms as Florida governor in many ways lead the country in elementary and secondary education,” said Michael W. Grebe, the president and chief executive officer of the Bradley Foundation, which has spent more than $40 million over the last 20 years in support of charter schools and voucher programs, including as a donor to Bush’s education foundation. “He put in place programs that have clearly raised academic standards. It’s measurable, demonstrable. We’re also really impressed by what he continues to do as a private citizen. When he left office, he didn’t leave behind his work.” Continue reading

Public Holds Mixed Views of Higher Ed

A majority of Americans (57 percent) believe that the higher education system in the country fails to provide students with good value for the money they and their families spend, according to a survey released Sunday by the Pew Research Center. Three-quarters of those polled said that college is too expensive for most Americans. But among Americans who are college graduates, 86 percent said that college had been a good investment for them personally. Pew also released a survey, in conjunction with The Chronicle of Higher Education, of college presidents. (Inside Higher Ed released a survey of college presidents in March.) Continue reading

New Carbon ‘sponge’ Could Revolutionize Energy Storage – UT Research

By Chris Jablonski

Researchers at University of Texas – Austin have created a novel form of three-dimensional carbon that can be used as a greatly enhanced supercapacitor, holding promise for energy storage in everything from energy grids and electric cars to consumer electronics.

The new porous material has the potential to give supercapacitors a boost by delivering significantly more charge, opening the doors to many potential unprecedented uses for this type of electrical energy storage device, say the researchers.

“We synthesized a new sponge-like carbon that has a surface area of up to 3,100 square meters per gram (two grams has a surface area roughly equivalent to that of a football field). It also has much higher electrical conductivity and, when further optimized, will be superb for thermal management as well,” said University of Texas team leader Rodney Ruoff. “The processes used to make this porous carbon are readily scalable to industrial levels.”

Supercapacitors are similar to batteries in that both store electric charge, but batteries do so through chemical reactions that take time to react, which means energy is stored and released relatively slowly. Supercapacitors, on the other hand, store a charge in a way that is similar to static electricity and are able to deliver energy much faster and more efficiently than batteries, but usually hold much less electrical charge.

The new carbon material developed by the UT-Austin researchers may change that. Supercapacitors made from it have an energy-storage capacity that is approaching that of lead-acid batteries, while retaining the high power density characteristic of supercapacitors. Continue reading

Gov. Rick Perry’s Business-Friendly Texas Thriving

By  Kenneth Hanner

Across the country, governors are taking back America, piecing together a country weakened by the wealth-destroying policies of Barack Obama.

At Human Events this week, we are offering a look into seven of these governors and what they are doing to restore America.  Today, we begin with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio.

AUSTIN, Tex.—The same week in April that a delegation of government officials from beleaguered California came to Texas to examine the state’s sound economy, Republican Gov. Rick Perry announced deals with three major corporations, creating new jobs in the Lone Star State. Continue reading

Senate Passes Amazon-related Sales Tax Bill

By Barry Harrell of (comments included)

The Texas Senate has overwhelmingly passed a measure aimed at tightening the state’s rules on when online businesses must collect sales tax.

Senators voted 30-1 today to pass House Bill 2403, a measure that originated with Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas.

The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry. Continue reading