University Senate uses time line to follow decisions of Regents

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The UT Senate of College Councils is closely following the UT System Board of Regents with a new interactive time line.

Over the summer, the senate has kept students updated on an ongoing controversy surrounding research and University efficiency using the time line to post news articles on related subjects, said senate communications director Michael Morton.

The time line, created to bring transparency to the board’s work, starts with a link to an article about the invitation Gov. Rick Perry extended to the board and other higher education officials for a higher education summit, Morton said.

He said the senate believes during this time the board began losing transparency and straying from the direct needs of the University.

“At the meeting, Perry [endorsed] the Seven Breakthrough Solutions for Higher Ed that weren’t necessarily right for UT,” Morton said. “This has been the backboard of the controversy. Unfortunately, this situation has progressed since early 2008 and has really gotten to the forefront of peoples minds.”

Morton said the time line breaks down the complex issues in a way that gets students involved and is constantly updated.

“We use every news resource possible and students have responded to it,” Morton said. “Some reliable sources we use are Reeve Hamilton from The Texas Tribune, Ralph Haurwitz from the Austin American-Statesman and Melissa Ludwig from San Antonio Express-News. They follow the board closely.”

The biggest issue of the board is gaining back the trust of the public through transparency, Morton said.

“At the meeting, there were recommendations made for separate teaching and research budgets,” Morton said. “That in itself would minimize transparency. Overall the public does not trust the direction they are going in. We’ve seen strives of trying to be transparent but they aren’t quite close enough.”

Morton said the time line, which has been viewed more than 600 times, is a way to work with the board and encourage much needed transparency.

“We disagree on some issues, but both parties care about the future of UT,” Morton said.

The Senate of College Councils president Carisa Nietsche said the senate aims to make the time line as unbiased as possible despite the senate’s opposition to many of the board’s actions.

“The time line outlines key players of the main controversy and follows them through the progression,” Nietsche said. “It’s very multifaceted.”

Nietsche said the senate has made efforts to ensure that the regents and all administrators at the University have been notified about the time line. She said the senate would always be glad to hear any commentary on the legitimacy of the time line.

Texas Exes spokeswoman Erin Huddleston said as soon as the alumni organization was notified about the time line by a senate representative they were interested in sharing it with the community.

“We put it on our advocacy resources site as soon as we knew about it,” Huddleston said. “We decided it would be another good resource to share for our advocates looking to know what was going on with the higher ed discussion.”

UT College Republicans President Lauren Pierce said she ?nds the time line to be biased against Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Public Policy Foundation. She said the site uses Perry, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the board as scapegoats for increasing tuition and other problems at the University.

“All I’ve seen from UT is an attitude of not wanting to shine light on the problems and not wanting to have any change,” Pierce said. “Instead of attacking proposed solutions from outside third-party groups, UT should be proposing its own solutions.”

Pierce said the time line focuses on the many problems the University has but fails to acknowledge the board’s efforts to ?x them.