Chancellors discuss campus carry, tuition costs at higher education panel


Campus carry and the cost of higher education dominated a panel discussion between four Texas university system chancellors Saturday.

“I was not in favor of the bill, but having said that, now that the law has passed, our responsibility is to make sure that we carry out the law, not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law,” UT System Chancellor William McRaven said. “There were some second and third order effects that were unanticipated, but we’re working through them.”

McRaven, Texas Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan, University of North Texas System Chancellor Lee Jackson and Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall spoke as members of the panel “Chancellor Confidential” at The Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday.

Jackson said he thought campus carry was not as important as other higher education issues.

“We’ve had arrests on our UNT campus in Denton for illegally bringing weapons on campus in the last decade,” Jackson said. “Not a single one of those arrests has involved a CHL permit holder. So they have apparently obeyed the law more than people who didn’t have the CHL permits.”

Marjorie Hass, president of Austin College and audience member, said, as a private institution, Austin College will likely opt out of campus carry. Under the campus carry law, public universities must allow campus carry, but private institutions may choose not to implement the law.

“Nothing in the public debate around campus carry has led our stakeholders to strongly believe that we should change our current policy, which is that handguns are not allowed on our campus,” Hass said. 

On the subject of tuition, Duncan said rising costs are in part because of lower funding from the state after the economic downturn in 2009. Public universities now receive $9 to $10 less per weighted semester credit hour from the legislature than before, according to Duncan.

“About 1.4 billion dollars was taken out of the higher education budget,” Duncan said. “That’s where we’ve not been able to catch up. I look forward to the opportunity to work with the legislature to deal with these issues.”

Funding research and campus growth attracts students to public universities in a competitive academic market, especially at UT-Dallas, according to McRaven.

 “Students want to come to great emerging research universities,” McRaven said. “Make no mistake about it, it costs money to do it right.”

Natalie Nehls, international relations and government sophomore, said the rising cost of tuition since the 1960s demandsa solution. 

“No one really has a set solution to what we can do to decrease costs,” Nehls said. “I didn’t feel like there had been anything implemented.”