TACT Executive Director Chuck Hempstead attended the first Interim Hearing of the House Higher Education Committee. It began with a welcome by new THECB Commissioner Dr. Harrison Keller. He pointed out that progress on 60X30TX is now behind schedule but the biggest problem is that it has no research component, as its predecessor, ‘Closing the Gaps,’ did. He proposes to coordinate rather than micromanage universities. He said the Governor believes we should have more top research schools. He worries about brain drain as the top students and faculty are being recruited out of state. It was pointed out that the House passed Tuition Revenue Bonds for facilities, but it died in the Senate. Everyone seemed pleased with the growth of TEXAS Grant, but it’s still not enough.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to review the progress of recent legislation. SB 212 is now law and each school should be training employees how to report when they learn of acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The report of the committee formed to write the implementation rules is now on the Coordinating Board website. Rep. Matt Schafer brought up some interesting points, including whether a faculty member who thinks a student is about to bring up one of those four issues can say “Stop!” so he doesn’t hear any details until he tells the student he must report anything he hears to the Title IX Office for a possible investigation. An involved attorney I spoke with later said the answer is yes. We’ll be hearing about SB 212 implementation more as the year progresses.