When pro-business ideologues run universities. Case study: Texas

As noted in a recent post, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch asserts that Public Authority would bring “a free-market approach to the university system similar to that of a corporate business.”

Ideologically, Huebsch is (by his own admission) joined at the hip with Scott Walker, so we can safely take this as an authoritative statement of what the governor’s office really wants for UW-Madison.

The Public Authority may be legislatively dead (or at least on ice), but we would do well to keep Scott Walker’s ultimate objectives in mind as we contemplate any “gifts” offered to UW-Madison and/or the UW System by the GOP-controlled state government.

And we would do especially well to study the example of Texas, where the struggle for ideological control of two university systems is coming to a head, as described in an exceptionally disturbing report by the Chronicle of Higher Education

Conservative Group’s Influence on Texas Higher-Education Policy Takes Center Stage Again

In case you don’t have a Chronicle subscription, here’s just a taste of what we learn:

The influence of a conservative movement that would apply a greater business orientation to Texas higher education came into stark relief this week, when the chancellor of one of the state’s university systems [Michael D. McKinney, Texas A&M University] unexpectedly resigned and the other seemed to push back against regents who have embraced what some call a heavy-handed ideological agenda.


Dr. McKinney has provided no reasons for his retirement, but The Dallas Morning News, citing anonymous sources close to the chancellor, reported Wednesday that Dr. McKinney was forced out for not being “assertive” enough in carrying out the foundation’s ideas, which have been embraced by Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, and some of the regents he appointed.

In the current political climate in Wisconsin, the institutions and traditions that protect us from going the way of Texas are fragile indeed.

Complacency is not an option. Resignation is not an option. Wishful thinking is not an option.

Vigilance, and bold defense of academic freedom and of the unique Wisconsin tradition of true shared governance, are how we will preserve the qualities that make UW-Madison unique in the world.

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One Response to When pro-business ideologues run universities. Case study: Texas

  1. Hundreds of Texas students will be denied financial aid and will be unable to attend college if the Legislature proceeds with 20 to 25 percent cuts in state aid to higher education in coming years leaders of the states top public universities told the Texas Senate Finance Committee in Austin on Wednesday. The most vulnerable student populations will be impacted said Doctor Francisco Cigarroa chancellor of the University of Texas System.Overall cuts proposed in Senate Bill 1 would reduce university research force the layoff of faculty members and eliminate hundreds of classes at public universities throughout the state the committee was told.The bill is going to adversely impact access affordability and excellence Cigarroa said at Wednesdays hearing at the Capitol.Finance Committee members talked about some measures that could provide more revenue for colleges such as tuition revenue bonds and bonds for cancer research. Florence Shapiro R-Plano said that enrollment growth can trigger more funding for a campus. Are there schools that have chosen for one reason or another to stop enrollment growth? she asked.Cigarroa responded It only proves that one size doesnt fit all.

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