• Texas Senate votes approves guns on campus

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Senators have voted to allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons into public college classrooms.

    Monday's vote is a major push on an issue that had stalled in the Senate and House despite overwhelming numbers of lawmakers in support in the Republican-dominated Legislature.

    Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, had been unable to muster the votes he needed under Senate rules to pass the issue as its own bill. After several failed attempts, Monday's vote tacked the measure onto a universities spending bill.

    Supporters call it a critical self-defense measure and gun rights issue. Opponents worry concealed handguns could lead to more campus violence and suicide.

    The measure has met stiff resistance from higher education officials, notably from within the University of Texas system.

  • Powers outlines plan to maintain excellence at UT

    In an address early this morning, President William Powers Jr. addressed University goals, state budget cuts and the importance of research at UT.

    His speech came at a time when higher education officials are nervous about a perceived anti-research message from the governor's office and the UT System Board of Regents. UT also anticipates at least $50 million in state funding cuts as the state legislature this session strives to balance a budget shortfall that may be as high as $27 billion.

    Powers commended the efforts of the Commission of 125, a group of 125 individuals from outside the University who outlined a set of goals to improve the UT curriculum in 2004, including ensuring that all undergraduate students study broad range of topics. Other initiatives, like the Freshman Research Initiative and the Course Transformation Program, are helping improve the undergraduate experience, he said.

    The University must focus on increasing its graduation rate and helping students graduate in four years, Powers said, and it must also increase business efficiency while maintaining excellence in teaching and research.

    "I will continue to defend our Constitutional mandate to remain 'a university of the first class,'" he said. "I will work night and day to achieve our vision for the public research university of the future. And I thank everyone in the Longhorn family for helping me do that."

    Read the full transcript of Powers' speech here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/55032005/0509-Powers-Speech