Austin, meet student: Redden will be new voice for Texas undergraduates

Political Science and History sophomore Krystafer Redden was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve on the Higher Education Coordinating Board's Undergraduate Advisory Committee, which will require him to make two trips to Austin a semester to voice student concerns. | Gregory Bohuslav/The Daily Cougar

Political science and history sophomore Krystafer Redden was chosen to represent University students statewide on the Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, Redden will start his two-year term in June. He will travel to Austin twice a semester to discuss concerns at UH, as well as for universities throughout the state.

“I am the sole student voice regarding undergraduate education policy for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which is the advisory body for the state legislature,” Redden said.

Among the concerns Redden wants to voice is keeping high quality students in state schools, increasing research funding and to improve college accessibility, readiness and affordability.

“I need to make sure I’m knowledgeable and aware of everything before I go to Austin, which will involve a lot of researching,” Redden said. “I am apprehensive, because it’s a big constituency — every undergraduate at every public college or university in the state of Texas. That’s a large group of people, yet I’m excited.”

Redden became interested in students concerns as an Honors Ambassador, a position that put him in charge of advising students in a variety of majors. Rigid degree plans and students struggling to select their career choice inspired Reddens to want to help.

“I am really interested in education as a project, education as a journey, not education as merely the acquisition of a degree or a set of technical skills,” he said.

According to its Web site, one of the biggest goals for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is its plan called the “Closing the Gaps by 2015,” where its hopes to close gaps in participation rates across Texas to add 500,000 more students.

After being encouraged by Honors College Dean William Monroe and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Elwyn Lee, Redden applied for the position last fall.

“It is gratifying to see a student willing to seek a position that will influence how things are done,” Lee said. “In my 19 years of service at UH, there hasn’t been another UH student appointed to the committee. I am very happy for (Redden) and the University because his appointment acknowledges the quality of our students.”

With an appointment of this caliber, Redden said he hopes that this position will help him with his future aspirations of law school, academia or politics.

However, Redden said he isn’t focused on how this position will only affect him, but how it will affect Texas education in the long run.

“I would like to see whatever positive changes we get done to continue to happen,” Redden said. “This isn’t just an appointment for me or for the University; this is an appointment for students, as well. It’s a chance for them to be represented in Austin in a legislative policy, making position and to have a voice.”

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