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U. of Texas Dean Blasts Higher-Education Reform Agenda

The “breakthrough solutions” for higher education that have been advocated by a think tank in Austin, Tex., and supported by Gov. Rick Perry would radically change the University of Texas’ flagship campus, in Austin, and set back efforts already under way to increase efficiency and teaching excellence, according to a 17-page report released today by Randy Diehl, dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts. The report is the latest salvo in the battle between the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which has advocated separating research and teaching budgets, awarding professors based on student reviews, and treating students more like customers, and higher-education officials who call the approach simplistic and misguided.

The dean also sent a message to students, faculty members, alumni, state officials, supporters, and critics outlining why he and his senior aides feel “the classroom should not be treated as a marketplace” where professors are judged mainly on how many students they teach and how much research money they bring in. Conservative groups have argued that recently released data show that the university could save money by requiring professors to spend more time on teaching and less on research.

Responding to Mr. Diehl’s report, the policy foundation fired back in a statement late Wednesday that “while world-class research has its role at research universities, students should not be relegated to secondary status, which they are too often today.”

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