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EDITORIAL: Support president who puts students first

Published: Thursday, June 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07

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Roger Zhang -- THE BATTALION

Loftin has committed himself to putting students first.

As rumors surfaced regarding University of Texas President Bill Powers’ possible termination, an outpouring of support from the campus community occurred and rightfully so.

A blog post by Paul Burka, a senior executive editor at Texas Monthly, claimed UT System Board of Regents had plans to fire Powers. These allegations stem from perceived dissension between Powers, who wanted a tuition increase, and the regents, all appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, who insisted on a tuition freeze.

Although UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa released a statement denying plans to fire Powers, Burka later posted, subsequent to the chancellor’s statement, his source “continued to stand behind the information.”

Administrators at Texas A&M are, at the very least, not unfamiliar with the battle over the cost of higher education between a president and a university’s regents. It could be assumed there was a political struggle regarding tuition after University President R. Bowen Loftin surprisingly changed his plans to increase tuition.

Back in February, the plan appeared to be a 3.95 percent increase in tuition to fund much needed faculty merit raises, per the recommendation of the Tuition and Fee Advisory Committee. In a sudden change of events, Loftin proposed that tuition remain flat, but not without the approval of a “student success fee.”

Tuition didn’t increase. The average cost to students still went up, but in a more subtle fashion. The idea behind the student success fee is to liquidate fee money to fund different initiatives related to “student success.”

Perhaps it is a lack of support for Loftin that influenced him to create the student success fee instead of raising tuition, which should be a lifeline for student success initiatives instead of a “student success fee.”

The amount of power the board of regents holds, including, but certainly not limited to, tuition rates and the firing of university presidents, is troubling given the boards’ background. Regents, mostly businessmen, are often accused of worrying more about the bottom line than the quality of our education. There is no question the president must be held accountable, but the board must act in interests of students.

In a recent interview with The
Battalion, Loftin noted every job has a boss and everyone is held accountable to someone or some thing.

Loftin said, “I don’t mind being held accountable. You can always judge me, and people do so all the time. But you have to recognize, in this kind of job, there’s no permanency to it.”

These are exciting times at Texas A&M University. We have a president who puts students first. In everything he does, he does for students. Although there have been no public allegations of discord among the regents and Loftin, students and faculty members should keep a close eye on the administration and ensure the president who puts students first is well supported.

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