From the Texas Exes:
CALL TO ACTION – WE NEED YOUR HELP TO PROTECT THE MISSION AND CORE VALUES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS 

We need your immediate help to address what is unquestionably the most serious threat our University has faced in years. The mission and core values of our beloved University are under attack. We are reaching out to you to please contact the UT System Board of Regents and share your concerns.

Although reduced state funding poses a serious challenge for The University of Texas, it pales in comparison to a threat to its MISSION and CORE VALUES. The mission of The University of Texas is to transform lives for the benefit of society through first-class teaching and research. The core values of UT are: learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity and responsibility.

The UT System Board of Regents, led by Chairman Gene Powell, has hired consultants who have publicly stated the fundamental view that academic research is not valuable and that tenured faculty could be replaced by lower-cost lecturers. These consultants propose a formula that excludes research in valuing faculty. They only want to look at any immediate financial value of research that can be proven on a current basis. This approach does not consider as value the societal benefits derived from a first-class academic institution focused on research, new discovery, and innovation. There are many examples of research developed in academia that have greatly benefited society, such as the double Helix, lithium batteries, advances in computer technology, new discoveries in science and engineering, business innovations, and market analysis. The value of these new discoveries would not have received a passing grade under the formula these consultants propose, because long-term benefits to society are not included in the analysis.

This view that research is not valuable ultimately leads to the conclusion that the major funders of research should not sponsor new discovery and innovation at major academic research institutions. It is inconceivable and disturbing that some people believe that the pursuit of research and new knowledge by academic institutions is not valuable to society and therefore should be excluded from the mission of major research universities – especially The University of Texas. If implemented, that view would do irreparable damage to the University and tarnish our hard-earned reputation within higher education on a national level. Texas would forever be known as the state that intentionally damaged its Tier 1 public teaching and research universities, thereby depriving Texans the valuable benefits provided by first-class institutions of higher education.

In addition to this intellectually flawed view that research at UT is valueless, these same consultants also believe that tenured faculty, distinguished in their fields, can and should be replaced by part-time, contract lecturers. They point to for-profit institutions as the correct model for controlling costs, because those institutions rely almost exclusively on lower-cost lecturers.

The premise that lecturers can deliver the same richness to a college education as distinguished, tenured, and tenure-tract faculty is misguided. Students who are denied the privilege and opportunity to learn from distinguished faculty have a distinct disadvantage, as they miss out on the exciting and stimulating opportunities to learn and be motivated by some of the greatest teachers and thinkers in the world. The exclusive use of low-cost lecturers for teaching does a terrible disservice to students and to our future as an enlightened society.

This threat to the integrity and future of The University is real and now. It is unthinkable and disturbing to consider that The University would be forced to eliminate or greatly scale back research, discovery, and innovation as a part of its mission. It is unthinkable and disturbing to believe that tenured, distinguished faculty can be replaced by less experienced and less knowledgeable lecturers simply because of lower cost.

The current threat to The University of Texas emphasizes the relevance of former University of Texas president Dr. Peter Flawn’s perspective that: “It takes 50 years or more to develop and build a great teaching and research university. However, it can be torn down in a year or two.” 

Call to Action:

We need your help now. Please contact the Board of Regents at the information below, and in your own words communicate:

Your fundamental belief in the mission and core values of The University of Texas, that the mission and core values should not be changed, and that The University should be allowed to continue on its path of becoming the best public teaching and research university in the nation.
By addressing correspondence to “Members of the Board of Regents” and sending it to the address below, all members are guaranteed to receive your concerns. 

Office of Board of Regents
Ashbel Smith Hall, Suite 820
201 West 7th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Email: BOR@utsystem.edu
Phone: 512-499-4402

The time is now – please act on behalf of our great University of Texas. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard Leshin
President
Ex-Students’ Association of The University of Texas (Texas Exes)



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