Writing in the Bryan-College Station Eagle (“A&M regents failed to protect university“) Former A&M President Ray Bowen and former chair of the Texas A&M Foundation Jon Hagler blast the regents:
Our university’s governance began to be corrupted when the governor’s appointment of regents was not primarily based on a candidate’s fiduciary loyalty to the university, on competence and on qualifications, but rather based on their personal and financial relationship with the governor…
As a consequence, these same regents have cost the taxpayers significant “settlement” sums for regent failures in presidential or chancellor selections. The damage has continued with ill-advised and counterproductive intrusions by both regents and the chancellor into the academic and administrative autonomy of our flagship, Texas A&M University.
They target the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the “half-baked proposals” coming from a small click of self-declared experts:
A highlight of irresponsibility came when our regents began to implement, in a secretive way, the half-baked proposals of a wealthy oil man and the pseudo think tank misnamed the Texas Public Policy Foundation. No one can be against controlling costs and teacher efficiency. But our university — one of the most administratively efficient and well-regarded universities in the state — should not have been the starting place for this discussion, and our regents failed everyone by rolling over without a peep and facilitating an illegitimate disruption of the university’s sanctioned mission.
At the time these proposals were made, Texas A&M University was both an efficient and cost-effective research university. It has been widely reported to be among the best “values” in higher education. It has increased tuition in recent years primarily to make up for a significant decline in per student funding by the state, and yet its tuition remains among the lowest of its higher-education peers. Why would regents do this? According to the media of the state, they were influenced to do it by the governor. Responsible regents, those who accept and understand their fiduciary duty to the citizens of Texas, do not impose untested and damaging new directions on their university. They simply exercise their constitutionally awarded independence and say no to outside pressure.
The criticism offered by these two distinguished alums reveals the degree to which Aggies are tired of seeing A&M turned into a prop in Texas political theater.
Hopefully, the rest of the state’s schools will see their alumni step up to protect the schools they love. The nonsense coming out of the Texas Public Policy Foundation is an expensive and counter-productive bit of drama that will only serve to lower the standards of higher education throughout the state.