Statement of Senator Judith Zaffirini
Regarding Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa's Presentation
to The University of Texas System Board of Regents
"As Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and Co-Chair of the Joint Oversight Committee on Governance, Excellence and Transparency, I applaud Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa for presenting this forward-thinking action plan that emphasizes innovation and creativity in confronting the ongoing challenges in higher education and in advancing excellence for The University of Texas System.
"I am especially pleased that it reflects shared governance at its best: He developed it in collaboration with the 15 presidents, incorporated feedback from stakeholders and presented it to regents for their approval. What's more, he developed his vision and goals from a solid foundation of years of hard work by our best academic leaders.
"This action plan's scope is as impressive as it is challenging, ranging from enhancing undergraduate access and success and faculty/administrative/staff productivity to excellence in research and in efficiency.
"Issues such as improving graduation rates, shortening time-to-degree, enhancing affordability and effectively blending online learning with face-to-face instruction deserve the full attention of all higher education stakeholders, particularly administrators and campus-specific leadership. Chancellor Cigarroa's action plan is a road map for success in addressing these issues.
"What's more, his plan makes clear that promoting high-quality research and supporting emerging research universities are critical to the UT System fulfilling its mission: to provide high-quality educational opportunities for the enhancement of the human resources of Texas, the nation and the world through intellectual and personal growth.
"With this framework and action plan, Chancellor Cigarroa focuses attention on ways to advance excellence not only for The University of Texas at Austin, but also for all UT System universities and health institutions. I am pleased, too, with his articulating the importance of expanding educational and health opportunities in South Texas, a rapidly growing and traditionally underserved region.
"This is exactly the kind of clear-sighted, principled, collaborative and transformational leadership Texans expect from our chancellor and presidents. While others are criticizing and attacking higher education, they are building and improving. While others may grandstand and wrongly claim credit for changes initiated long ago by our best leaders, including former regents and administrators, they are enthusiastically and creatively engaged in a longtime, continuous commitment to strengthening, improving and re-inventing higher education in general and at UT institutions in particular.
"This action plan should be embraced by all who care about higher education in Texas and at UT institutions. It should serve as a unifying force that looks beyond yesterday's controversies and toward a brighter future. Accordingly, I look forward to continuing to work with Chancellor Cigarroa, our presidents, our regents and other stakeholders to renew and enhance the UT System's commitment to excellence."