Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa unveiled his highly anticipated nine-plank Framework for Advancing Excellence throughout The University of Texas System on Thursday at the Board of Regents meeting. The plan built on his speech to the regents in May that outlined his vision for the System.
No matter how many planks were added, the speech was less about concrete policy and more about creating a consensus among the System’s various interests. He spoke about productivity and outcomes but emphasized institutional discretion. He spoke about teaching and research, small universities and large medical schools and undergraduates and Ph.D.s. He spoke with a broadness that only a man who oversees 15 very different entities can.
If nothing else, the ceremony put the onus of higher education reform on institutions. Plenty of questions still remain if the outcomes we are busy chasing are the outcomes that we want to be defined by in the years to come.
Cigarroa’s plan won him unanimous approval from the regents and earned praise from various factions of the higher education debate. But with a wide-pleasing message comes a wide range of interpretations, and the chancellor will be evaluated based on how institutions such as UT will react to the plan. After all, planks can be used to keep a boat afloat or to push someone off the edge.