American Association of University Professors at The University of Texas at Austin. Twitter. Join AAUP.

Please contact Brian Evans if you are interested in advocating for academic freedom, tenure and other higher ed values in Texas.

Our advocacy is amplified by teaming with Texas AAUP, AAUP , Texas AFT, AFT, TACT, TFA, and other orgs.

AAUP@UT members are speaking for themselves as private citizens and not on behalf of any group, institution or organization.

UT Austin and Texas A&M Orgs Advocate Together for Higher Ed

Advocating at the State Legislature is something that UT Austin and Texas A&M University organize, and not just external advocacy organizations.

Texas Exes and The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M team up at the Orange and Maroon Legislative Day in each Texas Legislative Session to organize current and former students as well as faculty and staff to advocate together for public higher education. Each team of 3-6 people has representatives from UT and A&M. On February 15, 2023, our 31 teams fanned out across the State Capitol in the afternoon to meet with all 181 Legislators. UT Austin President Jay Hartzell gave a speech in the morning, and Chancellors James Milliken and John Sharp in the evening.

When meeting with Legislators, each team presented the same talking points along themes of making public higher ed more affordable to students and their families, enhancing the quality of life, and creating jobs in Texas:

  1. Strengthen the Core Academic Mission with Increased Formula Funding — improving affordability
  2. Increased Investment in University Research Initiatives — enhancing quality of life and creating jobs
  3. Support Innovations and Production of Semiconductors in Texas — enhancing quality of life and creating jobs
  4. Increase Access to Mental Health Resources on Campus — improving affordability and enhancing quality of life
  5. Fully Fund Military Veteran Education Benefits for the Texas Hazlewood Act — improving affordability

Improving affordability. Stable and predictable state funding helps to keep college affordable and promotes efficiency and consistency for the universities, students, and families.

Enhancing quality of life and creating jobs.  Basic and applied research creates lifesaving treatments, medicines, therapies, technologies, business practices, artistic works, and more to improve the quality of life for Texans and spurs innovation across all sectors of our economy.

More information about the talking points is available in the Orange and Maroon Legislative Day Volunteer Handbook. Daniel Beka (Texas Exes) and Miranda Henderson (The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M) are available to field any questions Legislative Offices might have at daniel.beka@texasexes.org and mhenderson09@aggienetwork.com.

Here is a bit more information on the talking points:

  1. Affordability. Make our universities more affordable — strengthen the core academic mission with increased formula funding. 
    • Note: Formula funding for each institution is based on adding up the number of students enrolled in each course times the number of credit hours times a multiplier for the type of course taken that reflects the cost to offer the course (1 for Liberal Arts, 6 for Engineering, etc.)
    • Note: State funding per full-time public higher education student across all 107 institutions dropped every year from $6292 in 2001 to $4610 in 2020 after adjusting for inflation. (Source: State Support for Higher Education per Full-Time Equivalent Student, National Science Foundation, 2000-2020.) 
  2. Research.  Three subpoints: 
    • Enhance funding rate for Texas Research University Fund (which gives $1.1M for every $10M in research expenditures)  
    • Maintain $40M in funding for the Governor’s University Research Initiative.  
    • Note: In 2020, Texas public universities and health-related institutions had $5.44B in research expenditures (Source: Research Funding in Texas Overview, 60x30TX Report, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board).  This funding is not recurring like the formula funding in the first talking point.
    • Brian Evans told a story about the importance of research in Texas:  Dr. James Allison, BS & PhD UT Austin and Professor at UT MD Anderson, made key discoveries about cancer and the immune system that led to a new filed of immunotherapy that has transformed the treatment of certain cancers. In some cases, tumors melt away and a patient becomes cancer-free.  He won a Nobel Prize for this work in 2018.
  3. Semiconductors. Appropriate funds to strengthen proposals across Texas to compete for billions of dollars in federal CHIPS Act funding.  Leverage state dollars for federal funds . 
  4. Mental health.  Invest in higher ed mental health services for students.  
  5. Veterans and their dependents — Texas Hazlewood Act 1943 was expanded in 2009 to cover tuition benefits for up to 150 credit hours for dependents of veterans, which became an unfunded mandate.  Increase State funding to cover all dependent beneficiaries.  Deficit drives up tuition for others.  
    • The average impact of a Hazlewood “legacy beneficiary” waiver passed onto other students is approximately $196 at UT Austin and $270 at Texas A&M University per year  
    • Brian Evans added– It would take $280M/year in State funding to fully fund Hazlewood mandates across all public higher ed. (Source: Stacey Napier, UT System Vice Chancellor of Governmental Affairs). 

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