Newest Presidential Contender Has Strong Views on Higher Education

The newest entrant into the race for the Republican nomination for president, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, has a more-extensive track record on higher education than most of the 2012 candidates. Texas’ longest-serving governor has been closely involved in efforts to rank faculty members by productivity and to press the state’s public universities to put more focus on teaching than on research.

A former yell leader at Texas A&M University, Mr. Perry has promoted a conservative ideology in a higher-education policy agenda that emphasizes transparency and accountability and treats colleges like businesses whose customers are students. His associates have been hired for key leadership and advisory positions in the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems.

Among the more-controversial proposals the governor and his backers have pressed are policies Texas A&M has adopted to create a faculty-bonus system based solely on student feedback and to give professors a red or black numerical rating based on what they cost and bring in to the university.

This year the question of what professors should be doing with their time focused on the University of Texas system, which released a vast data file about its professors, including salaries and the number of students they teach, that was compiled at the request of a task force on productivity and excellence formed by the system’s Board of Regents.

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