Quotes to note: Addressing higher education governance

The Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency held its last hearing on higher education governance Friday. The following quotes are from the hearing.


“In my voice, I spoke out to the best of my abilities.”

— UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s response to a question from Zaffirini on why he didn’t do more to defend higher education institutions during the period of turmoil earlier this year. Cigarroa defended his actions and said he spoke to other chancellors and editorial boards, made statements to emphasize his position and published op-eds.


“As I say, I’ve exercised that [liberty], I’ve done it, I’ve been criticized for it, but I haven’t been…”

— President William Powers Jr. on a question from state Sen. Judith Zaffirini on whether he feels he has the liberty to defend faculty from faulty external attacks without negative repercussions. Powers fumbled through the question but later agreed with Zaffirini’s sentiment that he has been criticized though not chastised or fired for it.


“I went from 160 students to 500. So I was making a lot of money for Texas Tech University so someone could teach six kids on how to play the oboe or Latin IV or something like that. I don’t think that’s the proper wording.”

— Kent Hance, chancellor of Texas Tech University System, talking about his past days as a business law professor at the Texas Tech University Law School in the 1970s. Hance said Texas Tech has faculty productivity reports that look at teaching loads — similar to the maligned “black and red report” at Texas A&M — and said it was important to have those numbers as long as they are not the only measurement tool. Hance and former A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney were the only chancellors in the state invited to the now infamous 2008 conference hosted by Gov. Rick Perry and oilman Jeff Sandefer regarding the Seven Breakthrough Solutions.


“On the communication on issues like at Penn State, I am absolutely confident that our governance structure would not have had that information bogged down somewhere … God willing, we won’t have that kind of problem … I am absolutely confident that those lines of communication are open and that kind of information would have been off to the police and to the right reporting agencies of the state within a day, probably by the end of the day..”

— Powers on whether he feels the right channels of communication are in place to prevent the catastrophe at Penn State. A grand jury report found that high officials at Penn State, including the athletic director and a vice president, did not report a report of sexual abuse by a former assistant coach, which was witnessed by a graduate assistant and relayed by the head coach.


“If I were to reflect back on this — [on] was there adequate communication between the boards, the chancellors, the presidents, the universities … our greatest asset is our faculty, students and staff, and if they’re not engaged in that conversation to establish the best policy, then governance is compromised.”

— Cigarroa on evaluating the communication breakdowns that sparked the higher education controversy earlier this year.