Education advocates form Higher Education Excellence Coalition

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Texans dedicated to high standards in research and teaching at Texas public universities formed the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education.

The group’s more than 200 founding members include businesspeople, former university presidents and system chancellors, philanthropists and other education experts, according to a press release. They aim to advance job growth and innovation by maintaining and improving higher education standards.

“Texans want to lead, not follow; we want the world’s next great discovery to come from Texas, and we are committed to supporting the high quality research and teaching that will allow that to happen,” said the coalition in a statement. “High quality universities are engines of economic growth and incubators of creativity.”

The coalition comes at a time of tension between higher education administrators and the state’s boards of regents. Gov. Rick Perry and some Perry-appointed regents advocate a separation of research and teaching as well as other moves such as larger class sizes to increase efficiency that UT President William Powers Jr. said will undermine the quality of the University and inhibit its mission. The coalition’s statement echoed Powers’ sentiments.

“We are alarmed that some recommendations being floated by others ... are a prescription for mediocrity that would have severe and negative long-term consequences for our state,” the statement said.

The “volunteer advocates” who comprise the committee will “encourage continued transparency, progress and reform” and demand the continuance and growth of diverse educational opportunities across the state, according to the release.