A&M, UT regents less-educated compared to boards of other large state university systems

Posted on: May 20th, 2011 by Patrick Brendel 2 Comments

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Austin) opened herself up to charges of “elitism” by right-wing conservatives when she referred to her own doctorate degree as evidence that she understands the value of university teaching and research, and Gov. Rick Perry’s lack of a graduate degree as evidence that he does not. Using academic degrees as a benchmark, Texas has some of the least elitist regents around, compared to other large state university systems.

Taken as a group, the 18 appointed regents making up the governing boards of the University of Texas System and Texas A&M University System hold fewer university degrees, on average, than appointed counterparts in California, Florida, Georgia and New York. While all current A&M and UT regents have bachelor’s degrees, together they only have seven advanced degrees (a master’s, three MBA’s, two JD’s and a doctorate of dental surgery). No A&M or UT regent has a Ph.D., as Zaffirini does.

On average A&M and UT regents have 1.4 college degrees apiece. That’s fewer than Georgia (1.5), California (1.7), Florida (1.9) and New York (2.0) — using information available online for appointed board members overseeing the University System of Georgia, University of California, California State University, State University System of Florida and the State University of New York.

Texas and Florida are the only states with boards that do not have at least one member without a college degree. While Texas has the greatest percentage of MBA-holding regents — 17 percent (compared to 11 percent for Georgia and 7 percent for New York), Texas has the lowest percentage of master’s degrees not in business administration — 6 percent (compared to 40 percent for New York and 22 percent for Georgia).

Texas also ties Georgia with the lowest percentage of regents with law degrees, 11 percent. Florida has the highest, 36 percent. Neither Texas nor Georgia has a regent with a Ph.D. or an M.D., while 13 percent of New York State regents have a Ph.D. and 13 percent have an M.D.

The only Texas regent with a non-law doctorate is A&M Regent Richard Box, who is a dentist (in addition to being Perry’s campaign treasurer).

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