Regents’ Chairman Gene Powell Announces Task Forces to Review University Excellence and Productivity, Blended Learning

AUSTIN – The formation of two advisory task forces to review university excellence and productivity and blended learning programs within the University of Texas System Administration and the nine academic institutions was announced today (Feb. 25) by Regents’ Chairman Gene Powell.

“How efficiently we teach and educate our students, perform our operations and manage our assets are paramount considerations in this tight budget environment,” Powell said. “So it is critical that we focus our efforts on providing the most cost-efficient means for producing graduates, while at the same time, increasing the quality of education across the UT System.  We want our students and their families to know that the students are receiving the highest quality education from the UT System universities at the best possible price.”

The Task Force on University Excellence and Productivity will carefully review efficiency and productivity at the institutions. The task force members are:

  • Regent Brenda Pejovich, chairman
  • Regent Alex Cranberg
  • Regent Bob Stillwell
  • UT Dallas President David E. Daniel
  • UT Pan American President Robert Nelsen
  • UT Austin Executive Vice President and Provost Steve Leslie
  • Chairman Gene Powell, UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David B. Prior and Executive Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Scott C. Kelley will all serve as ex-officio members of the task force.

The Task Force on Blended and Online Learning will review current online course instruction at the UT System and its academic institutions, identify successful approaches and best practices in online instruction across the nation, and make recommendations to the Board on how to improve online course offerings in the UT System.  The task force members are:

  • Regent Wallace Hall, chairman
  • Regent Printice Gary
  • Vice Chairman Steve Hicks
  • UT Arlington President James Spaniolo
  • UT El Paso President Diana Natalicio
  • UT San Antonio President Ricardo Romo
  • UT Austin Vice Provost of Higher Education Policy and Research Harrison Keller
  • Chairman Gene Powell, Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs David B. Prior and Student Regent Kyle Kalkwarf will each serve as ex-officio members of the task force.

Both advisory task force groups will begin work immediately and are expected to report preliminary findings and recommendations to the full Board of Regents by no later than May 15.

The formation of the two task force groups follows findings in a November 2010 report by an advisory group of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which recommended several strategies for public universities and colleges, including creating clear pathways for successful student outcomes; meeting enrollment demand with new approaches for higher education delivery; and making productivity and continuous improvement an ongoing priority.

That Coordinating Board advisory group was formed after Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order directing the Coordinating Board to assemble a committee of Texas higher education and business leaders to study higher education cost efficiencies at the state’s public universities.

About the University of Texas System

The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $12.8 billion (FY 2011) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.