Gov. Greg Abbott this week announced a new university research initiative designed to attract Nobel Laureates and other “distinguished” researchers to Texas universities. The goal, Abbott said, is to make Texas’ higher education institutions the “best in the nation.” The words sound great, but the state leadership, through its actions, hasn’t proved that it means what the governor says.
First, there is the matter of money and, secondly, there is the new campus gun law.
University of Texas System Chancellor Bill McRaven had an announcement of his own this week. He said that eight UT campuses, including the UT-Austin flagship, need to raise tuition to remain competitive in faculty salaries and national rankings. And the reason why is because the governor and the legislature majority continue to under-fund higher education, preferring instead to force tuition increases that will price some young people out of college educations.
Being best in the nation requires more than an investment of political platitudes.
The same state officials enacted the new law that, beginning Aug. 1, will allow guns to be brought onto college campuses, including classrooms. UT-Austin has only one Nobel Laureate on its faculty now, and he is so concerned about the new law that he may retire rather than allow guns in his classroom.
The best and the brightest researchers have many options, and a political mentality that prefers to arm college campuses with guns rather than adequate financial resources just may convince many of them to go elsewhere.