An independent study by Michael McLendon was covered by The Texas Tribune in a Dec. 6 article by journalist Reeve Hamilton. McLendon is professor of higher education policy and leadership in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development.
McLendon compiled the report “Committed to Excellence: An Assessment of the Conditions and Outcomes of Undergraduate Education at the University of Texas at Austin and at Texas A&M University” for The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, www.TexasEducationExcellence.org.
McLendon examined the role and performance of UT Austin and Texas A&M compared to their national peers in the report released by the Coalition on Dec. 6. The report provides a baseline look at the state’s flagship public universities. McLendon was commissioned to do the study while at Vanderbilt University. Now at Simmons, he’s a faculty member in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership and serves as the school’s associate dean.
By Reeve Hamilton
The Texas Tribune
A group that formed in 2011 in response to a prominent push for higher education policy proposals it viewed as misguided released a report on Thursday that makes a case for the value of the state’s flagship universities: the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.
The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education report was written by Michael McLendon, a professor of higher education policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University. He previously worked at Vanderbilt University, where he completed much of the work on the report.
Jenifer Sarver, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said the group commissioned the report because it wanted a substantive, data-driven conversation about the value of the state’s top-tier public research universities. She said that among the universities’ supporters, as the statewide debate on reforming higher education has continued, there has been “a real desire to not just raise a fist and criticize others who are raising important questions.”
In the report, McLendon used national data to compare institutions and found that the two flagship universities are a bargain relative to their peers — UT charges about $1,000 less than the average tuition and fees in the peer group, while A&M charges roughly $2,000 less. He also found that they are both “among the nation’s foremost leaders in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded nationally.”
Overall, he said in a statement, “they perform at high levels when compared to their national peers on many of the dimensions of importance to students, to the public, and to the state of Texas.”
The chief areas in which McLendon found the Texas flagships lagging were four-year graduation rates, which hover around 50 percent at both universities, and African-American student enrollment.
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