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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Opinion

UT’s ‘trojan horse’ shouldn’t scare UH


ut expansion

An rendering of the planned UT expansion site. | Courtesy of Houston Business Journal

UH has developed a case of little brother syndrome — feeling inferior to a bigger, seemingly superior university. In this case, it’s the University of Texas and its proposed expansion into Houston.

The Board of Regents even approved a statement in November opposing UT’s plans, described by UH law professor Michael Olivas as a Trojan horse that Houston should not let inside its gates.

This Trojan horse is threatening, and The Cougar Editorial Board understands that. UH has been numbed by the numerous comparisons to other public state universities in the state. In UH’s mind, it’s the only one that matters — a fair point made by a university that is on the brink of national recognition for numerous programs.

But, on the other hand, UT has every right to expand into Houston. If you think about it, UT has 14 institutions in its system scattered all around the state, and the closest thing they have to a hunting ground in southeast Texas is UT-San Antonio, about 220 miles west of UH.

It makes sense that they want something closer to the coast, a gateway into bringing potential students from the Houston-area as well as from Louisiana. UT has every right to expand their uber-successful system. But as Cougars, it stings a little — even if you were a dead-set Longhorn from birth.

UT is one of two universities in the state that receives money from Permanent University Funds, a metaphorical bucket of wealth meant to fund higher education within the state.

But UH doesn’t.

The Higher Education Coordinating Board hasn’t approved UT’s expansion, a breath of relief from anyone rooting for UH.

Ultimately, being the head of a university is a business. President and Chancellor Renu Khator is our CEO, just like System Chancellor Bill McRaven is UT’s. Their jobs are to divide and conquer.

Both systems are doing that well by focusing on gaining more possible alumni within their ranks. This expansion business is dog-eat-dog. What UH has to do is prevail over any possible road bumps and dodge any cattle that may stand in its way.

With strong alumni support shown by a petition started by the UH Alumni Association, UH could come out on top of this waiting game. All it needs is for the state to see what UH has accomplished in the past couple of years and rule in its favor.

Sure, UT has the means to build wherever it wants, but what it doesn’t have —what it will never have — is UH’s valor.

— The Cougar Editorial Board

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