Today's inaugural hearing of the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency featured national experts weighing in on how — and how not — to make universities in Texas more accountable and transparent. But the gloves really came off during the public testimony.
Earlier in the year, controversy erupted when legislators and members of the higher education community, particularly those at the University of Texas, became concerned that university system regents might actually attempt to implement the controversial “seven breakthrough solutions” published by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and promoted by Gov. Rick Perry in 2008.
Of particular focus in the debate were proposals to boost productivity by implementing cash awards for teachers based solely on student evaluations and a proposal to split teaching and research budgets, which detractors found antithetical to the mission of a research university.
Legislative leaders responded by establishing the joint committee to look into some issues brought forth by the controversy, such as the role of regents and how best to improve the quality of higher education.