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Senate Committee on Higher Education - 87th R.S. (2021)

Committee Members
Brandon Creighton, Chair
Royce West, Vice Chair
Brian Birdwell
César Blanco
Borris Miles
Angela Paxton
Drew Springer
Larry Taylor
Judith Zaffirini
Charges
• Faculty Tenure: Review the history of and current statutes and policies of academic tenure in Texas public higher education institutions. Review tenure dismissal policies at higher education institutions in Texas and investigate state policies or proposals that have eliminated tenure. Examine the role of faculty senates in representing faculty interests to the institution administration. Make recommendations to revise current tenure policies, and provide boards of regents with additional authority to review and address issues with tenured faculty. In addition, make recommendations on establishing guidelines for the role and representation of faculty senates at higher education institutions in Texas.
• Workforce Education: Evaluate state efforts to support access to work-based learning and microcredential opportunities, including apprenticeships, industry-based certificates and certifications, as well as competency-based education. Assess the potential benefits of expanding access to work-based learning, apprenticeships, microcredentials, and industry-based certifications that are aligned to workforce needs and provide in-demand workforce skills and competencies. Evaluate existing resources and programs at institutions, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency, and the Texas Workforce Commission to support these opportunities and ultimately reach Tri-Agency goals. Consider recommendations to standardize these programs in order increase postsecondary degree completions.
• Enrollment Trends: Study the postsecondary enrollment trends across all sectors and levels of higher education in Texas, with a review on specific challenges to enrollment. Consider the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on direct high school-to-college enrollment, first-time college enrollment, transferability, and retention rates, as well as the overall impact on community college enrollment. Make recommendations on specific methods to address disparities and pandemic impacts relating to enrollment trends in order to achieve Texas' higher education goals in building a Talent Strong Texas.
• Strengthening United States History Requirements: Examine current course requirements for students in United States History, and ensure elements of Critical Race Theory are not currently included in course curriculum. Consider and recommend methods to ensure students receive accurate historical information related to the founding and establishment of the United States. Examine the current role of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in the development and oversight of the core curriculum requirements and recommend any necessary changes. Examine current authority of boards of regents over teaching faculty and make recommendations on changes to law to ensure boards of regents have appropriate approval authority related to course content and instruction.
• Funding Permanent University Fund: Review the history and use of the Permanent University Fund for the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, and explore the creation of a new legacy fund to address the needs of all other higher education institutions in Texas. Make recommendations on methods to streamline other existing research funds and finance research academic institutions in Texas.
• Teaching and Health Care Workforce Participation: Review financial aid and scholarship opportunities in Texas related to teaching, health care, and law enforcement, and examine methods to increase participation in these and other high-demand fields. In particular, study the participation rates of the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program, the Peace Officer Loan Repayment Program, and the Nursing Corps Loan Repayment Program, and make recommendations on ways to increase participation rates in each area.
• Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Higher Education passed by the 87th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:

  • SB 1102 87th R.S., relating to the establishment of the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) Program to support workforce education;
  • SB 1230 87th R.S., relating to establishing the Texas Commission on Community College Finance;
  • SB 1385 87th R.S., relating to the compensation and professional representation of student athletes participating in intercollegiate athletic programs at certain institutions of higher education; and
  • HB 3767 87th R.S., relating to measures to support the alignment of education and workforce development in the state with state workforce needs, including the establishment of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative.

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