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Big names form new higher ed coalition in Texas

A group whose founding members include powerhouses in Texas higher education announced its formation in the wake of controversies over university proposals pushed by Gov. Rick Perry and a conservative think tank.

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education was created in order to “advance excellence at our state’s public higher education institutions and support a more thoughtful and transparent discussion of ways to strengthen and improve, rather than undermine, them,” according to a statement from the group’s founding committee.

Perry’s support of the “seven breakthrough solutions” primarily authored by Jeff Sandefer, a major Perry donor and Texas Public Policy Foundation board member, have caused outcry from faculty and alumni at the state’s flagship universities, who say the proposed reforms will irreparably damage higher education in Texas. The solutions include separating teaching and research budgets, awarding cash bonuses based on student evaluations, and exploring alternate means of accreditation for Texas universities.

The bipartisan group includes former Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff (a Republican), former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby (a Democrat), and high-profile University of Texas at Austin professor Adm. Bobby Inman, who is a former director of the National Security Agency. The Burson-Marsteller office of Karen Hughes, a former aide to George W. Bush, is in charge of media relations.

The coalition also includes former leaders at UT and A&M, as well as other schools, such as the University of Houston.

Read the group’s news release and quotes from founding members:

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