Education News

Texas Higher Ed Commissioner Weighs In On Expansion Plans

The commissioner for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board spoke favorably about one expansion plan and questioned another.

Renderings of Houston campus
Renderings of UT’s plans for a Houston campus

Several public universities want to expand in Houston, and that has stirred up some controversy.

The commissioner for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board spoke favorably about one expansion plan and questioned another.

The first plan is from University of Texas system’s Chancellor Bill McRaven to create a research hub in southwest Houston.

“We think that he's put into place a very reasonable process for making decisions about what that move will look like and I think he's got a good plan for consulting with the appropriate leaders in Houston, both educational and community,” Commissioner Raymund Paredes told reporters Wednesday on a conference call.

Some Houston lawmakers have loudly criticized UT's ambitions.

The second plan is from the University of Houston. It wants to open a medical school to provide primary care to under-served communities.

Paredes cited alternatives to do that short of an expensive medical school.

He said that he worries that higher education will expand beyond the state's ability or willingness to pay for it.

“I fear that that's simply is a certain pathway to higher education mediocrity across the state,” Paredes said.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is expected to hear more about UT's expansion plans at its meeting next week.

Clarification: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Commissioner Raymund Paredes' comments about the University of Texas system's plan to expand in Houston. Paredes spoke favorably about UT's proposed process to make decisions and to consult with local leaders. Paredes also commented that in regards to UT's proposed expansion, the state has an agreement with federal authorities to protect the enrollment and academic programs of two nearby historically black universities, Texas Southern University and Prairie-View University.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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