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Conversations on Higher Education in Texas

As the State of Texas works to contain costs and operate within a balanced budget, all state-supported agencies, including higher education, are closely examined for opportunities to improve efficiency.  This has certainly been true in 2011 as discussion regarding transparency, accountability and efficiency in our public colleges and universities has frequented the headlines of our state’s leading publications.  Much, if not most of this debate has centered on Texas’ two state-supported Tier 1 Research Universities, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas.

All parties agree that transparency and accountability are paramount and that opportunities for improved efficiency always exist.  When it comes to specific approaches to achieve greater accountability, efficiency and transparency, however, differences of opinion arise.  One approach calls for methodical analysis and measured changes, while others call for broader change and an overhaul of the current higher education system.

As these approaches have been discussed and debated key ideologies have emerged.  Some ask if and even suggest that the more sweeping reforms will damage the academic excellence of Texas A&M and reverse the positive course the University has followed through recent decades.  Proponents of sweeping change contend that educational costs are spinning out of control and that a serious change of direction is needed to keep higher education affordable in the state of Texas.

The solutions to these challenges are complex and warrant careful consideration.  To help gain greater insight and understanding of the challenges ahead, The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors invited key stakeholders to join them for the opening session of their 3rd Quarter Board Meeting, Monday, August 1, 2011.  During this session, questions were asked of the Chairman of the Board of Regents, Dr. Richard Box ’61;  President of Texas A&M University, Dr. Bowen Loftin ’71; Speaker of the Texas A&M Faculty Senate, Dr. Michael Benedik; and the 2011 Chair of The Association Board of Directors, Jorge Bermudez ’73.

Throughout the two-hour discussion, panelists spoke candidly and openly about Texas A&M’s achievements, the challenges ahead for our university and shared their thoughts on specific suggested reforms that have been discussed and debated in recent months.  Knowing that Aggies care passionately about Texas A&M and would want to be as informed as possible on this topic, we are pleased to present this special publication which includes a full video of the session, along with transcripts of panelists' responses to each question asked.

You can view the entire 83-minute forum by clicking on the embedded video below. Or click on any of the eight topics at right; you can then view a video of just that segment of the forum or read a transcript of the participants' answers on that topic.

This publication is just one facet of our ongoing efforts to provide information on this important subject to the Aggie Network.  Background information on this topic can be found on our web article, "Background Information On The Discussion Of The Future of Higher Education."  This page will be updated periodically to reflect current discussions.   After reading and viewing the contents of this publication, as well as the background page, we invite you to share your thoughts at Communicate@

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The Discussion
Conversations on Higher Education in Texas
  1. Where A&M Stands Today
  2. Challenges We Face
  3. Addressing Challenges While Maintaining Values
  4. Membership In The AAU
  5. The Role of the Flagship
  6. 'The Seven Breakthrough Solutions'
  7. What Can Former Students Do?
  8. Additional Discussion
What are your thoughts? We invite you to provide feedback to
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Meet the Panel
Dr. Richard Box

Dr. Richard Box '61

Dr. Richard Box '61 of Austin is a doctor of dental surgery and has a private practice in the Austin area. He was appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Rick Perry effective December 8, 2008, and was elected to serve a two-year term as Chairman of the Board on March 24, 2011. full bio

Dr. R. Bowen Loftin

Dr. R. Bowen Loftin '71

Dr. R. Bowen Loftin '71 was named the 24th president of Texas A&M on February 12, 2010. He had served as interim president since June 15, 2009. Prior to that, he spent four years as vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston. full bio

Jorge Bermudez

Jorge Bermudez '73

Jorge Bermudez '73 of College Station is The Association of Former Students' 2011 Chair of the Board. He is president and CEO of the Byebrook Group, a small firm dedicated to research and advisory work in the financial services industry. He is the former chief risk officer of Citigroup. full bio

Dr. Michael Benedik

Dr. Michael Benedik

Dr. Michael Benedik, the current speaker of Texas A&M's Faculty Senate, received his bachelor's degree in microbiology from the University of Chicago and his doctorate in microbiology from Stanford University. He is a professor of biology and holds the ASM International Professorship at Texas A&M. full bio


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