It was a lo-o-o-o-ong day at TACHE. I got to the Hyatt at 7:30 for breakfast and didn’t leave till 9:30 pm after the president’s awards dinner. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of the day:

First speaker: THECB Commissioner Raymund Paredes. Paredes centered his talk on the Closing the Gaps Initiative. It’s a great plan, but if his boss Rick Perry and his Repugs don’t fund it, then its only worth is as back-up in case one runs out of toilet paper. He made sure to remind us that “Texas is a Republican state” and that we need to lobby for higher education from the standpoint of Republicans. He talked a lot about accountability on the part of colleges and universities, proposing that if universities want research funding, then a new accountability measure is going to be “how many undergraduates are graduating?” Of course, in laying out the blame game, Paredes–much like Rick Perry–avoided the need for increased financial aid and Perry’s tuition deregulation.

One major issue I disagreed with was his idea that colleges and universities in Texas need to cut various graduate programs that, according to him, are deemed ineffective. He wants Texas universities to be like those in California–two university systems; one that is considered the best UC and one that is for everyone else, Cal State. So, reducing the number of graduate programs would be key to this because according to him, there are too many universities in Texas offering doctoral programs. So, where does that leave the issue of ACCESS??

Although he didn’t say it, it would almost seem like he’d like to keep TAMUK’s Rangel Pharmacy School closed. It almost seems like he would go after grad and doc programs at universities that serve underrepresented populations. I have to say that his attitude in this regard was quite elitist, as if only UT and A&M should offer doctoral programs.

All I can say about “Closing the Gaps” with his elitist ideas in mind is: Pass the toilet paper, Raymund! (I took lengthy notes, but left them in my car, so I’ll have more on his speech soon.)

I finally got to meet Dr. Beto Calderon. Dr. Calderon is a History professor at North Texas–sharp dude! I found out that this scholar is from my neck of the woods (Eagle Pass, TX), so we had much to talk about in regards to South Texas–cultura and politics. Calderon wrote an awesome essay for La Nueva Raza News-Magazine a couple of issues ago on “Bush’s Bracero Program Proposal.” It got lots of hits and reads–I’m going to have to re-post it very soon.

I also re-connected with an ex-mentor from my Southwest Texas days–Dr. Rumaldo Juarez, president of Texas A&M Kingsville. This is the guy that decided to take on limiting faculty senate and show them how to run things at TAMUK. Juarez is an innovative leader and we’ll be hearing a lot about him in the future. If anyone can get the Pharmacy School open, it’s him.

Had a bit of a Cristal reunion, too. Since my sis, Sylvia, was also reppin’ Kingwood College, we met with one of TACHE’s leaders, Javier Olguin. Olguin is an administrator at one of Austin Community College’s campuses; and a product of Crystal City, TX. Along with Jose Angel Gutierrez and Calderon, South Texas was well represented.

At the awards dinner, we listened to a poignant, moving speech by Dr. Arturo Madrid, a humanities scholar at Trinity University and also a founder of the Tomas Rivera Center, a well-respected public policy think tank. TACHE also gave out a couple of graduate fellowship awards to two highly intelligent Latinas.

Friday is the business meeting–election of the new president-elect, other officers, and getting some resolutions passed and publicized. Among those that will be proposed include: A resolution opposing HR4437; a resolution calling for the continuation of the 10% plan; a resolution calling for the Texas Legislature to increase funding for the state work-study program.

And I didn’t forget: I finally formally met Julita Rincon from the Jovenes Inmigrantes por un Futuro Mejor (JIFM-UH–links to the right). JIFM is planning a march in support of the Dream Act–The March for the Dream–for March 25. Dos Centavos will be giving you more details on a weekly basis and more!!

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