Aggie group joins UT in opposing Perry higher ed reforms
Wed May 4, 2011 9:30 am

Twenty-two former administrators and distinguished former students--the latter designation recognizes members of the A&M community who have made exceptional contributions to the university--have founded the Alliance for Texas A&M University to provide information about, and to oppose, the higher ed reforms being pushed by Governor Perry. The group posted this statement on its Web site:

Howdy and welcome to the website alliancefortamu.org. The purpose of this website is to collect in a convenient location, for the benefit of Former Students of Texas A&M University and others, information relating to the highly publicized proposals know as “The Seven Breakthrough Solutions.” We believe these proposals are but one of a series of inappropriate political interventions causing damage to a university that has served, in an exceptional fashion, generations of Texans. Texas A&M University is a precious resource for the citizens of Texas. It’s quality and ability to serve the state need to be enhanced, not diminished.

An open letter to the A&M community follows:

We are Aggies. Each of us has been selected by the Association of Former Students of Texas A&M University as a Distinguished Alumnus. Most of us live in Texas. We have spent our lives in a variety of professional and civic roles. All of us are beneficiaries of the current
academic prestige of Texas A&M University. All of us love Texas A&M University. We write out of our heartfelt concern that this prestige could be diminished.

We, along with all A&M graduates, are beneficiaries of a generational obligation long accepted by Regents, System Officials and University Officials to make Texas A&M University better for each subsequent generation. This commitment to excellence combined with good state support, a significant flow of private money from donors and friends and a dedicated faculty have resulted in a university of the first class. The success of today’s Texas A&M University is due in no small part to prior graduates and their appreciation of high institutional quality. Our
university’s quality is evident from almost every perspective. The fact we were invited to join the Association of American Universities (AAU) in 2001 is perhaps the most tangible evidence.

Our concern is the result of the extraordinary level of political intervention in our university. The latest of these interventions has resulted in the negative publicity given to proposals to fundamentally change how the research universities in Texas fulfill their educational
responsibilities. These proposals are usually referred to as the “Seven Break Through Solutions.” It is our opinion that several of these proposals will do significant damage. The seven proposals are neither new nor break through. They represent naive and, in some cases, self-serving proposals from inexperienced organizations and individuals.

We call on all members of the Aggie community to familiarize themselves with the proposals we think are damaging. We call on each of you to reach your own conclusions. If you share our views, we encourage you to express your views to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. We encourage you to ask the Board of Regents to end their well-known support for the seven proposals. We call on you to ask the Board of Regents to resist inappropriate political intervention and to task its university administrators to further enhance the quality of Texas A&M University while always striving to remain cost efficient.
The reaction to the breakthrough solutions proposal at UT, the other flagship university in the state, has been dramatically different than at A&M. At UT, its Chancellor and President "have been standing up for what a Tier One university should be", said the president of its faculty
senate. The Texas A&M leadership should be as vigorous as UT in seeking to preserve its status as a Tier One university.

It is our observation that individuals, including Boards of Regents, often misunderstand the fragile nature of academic prestige. It does matter what Regents say and do. An ill-advised short term decision will have long term detrimental impacts. They should be challenged to
recognize and preserve the generational obligation that has caused Texas A&M to be the great university that we all love and respect.

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