Quotes to note: 6th State of the University Address

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Editor’s note: The following quotes are from President William Powers Jr.’s State of the University Address Wednesday evening.

“If universities stand for anything, it should be the pursuit of critical thinking. They should be a countervailing force against the sort of willful ignorance and anti-intellectualism — indeed Philistinism — we see manifested in ways large and small across our culture.”

“Put bluntly, tilting at the windmills of supposed faculty who don’t work hard or who don’t care about our undergraduates — for all the rhetoric about dodgers and coasters — will simply divert us from the real tasks at hand. And it will severely damage our ability to attract and retain our talent.”
— Powers referring to Rick O’Donnell’s report published in July that categorized UT professors based on teaching workloads and the amount of research revenue generated. The report segmented professors into five categories: “dodgers,” “coasters,” “sherpas,” “pioneers” and “stars.”

“Our faculty are not the problem. ... Not only are they not the problem, they are a big part of the solutions to the very real challenges we do face. We can’t design and implement sustainable change without their help. They care deeply about their teaching and about the success of our students.”
— Powers alluding to accusations that UT faculty’s focus lies on research over teaching.

“You get better results if you hire quality people and then trust the process by letting researchers follow their natural curiosity. And you get better professors that way.”
— Powers defending purely academic research that may not have a tangible outcome.

“Critically, improving graduation rates would not diminish the quality of a UT education and degree. But it is a huge project. We can’t get it done unless we are given room to focus on it.”
— Powers addressing his goal to improve four-year graduation rates. Powers challenged UT to achieve a 70-percent four-year graduation rate — which currently stands at 51 percent — in five years.

“For Texans, who comprise 92 percent of our undergraduates, tuition is less than $10,000 a year. For a quarter of our freshmen, after scholarships and grants, it’s less than $2,500 per year. That’s less than $10,000 for four years.”
— Powers alluding to Gov. Rick Perry’s proposal for the creation of a $10,000 bachelor’s degree.