Texas A&M ranked among ‘best colleges for women’

From Texas A&M University:

Texas A&M University, known for decades as an all-male college, is one of 50 U.S. institutions featured in a new “Best Colleges and Universities for Women” article — and the only public university in Texas so cited.

The 2016 ranking of the nation’s best colleges for women was compiled by College Choice, an online firm that has as its slogan “Helping You Choose the Right College.”

Texas A&M is ranked 40th in the listings that are dominated by private institutions, particularly Ivy League schools. The only Texas institution ranked higher than Texas A&M is Rice at 13th. The only other Texas school citied is SMU, which ranks 48th.

Women now account for almost half of the 60,000+ students at Texas A&M, which ranks among the top five universities in the nation in student body size. Last fall, women totaled 30,677 in the university’s overall enrollment, with men totaling 33,699.

Not only are a lot of women enrolled at Texas A&M, but many of them also are serving in key leadership positions. For example, the 2016-17 student body president is a woman, Hannah Wimberly of Friendswood, as is the commander of the university’s Corps of Cadets, Cecille Sorio, formerly of San Antonio.

Opened in 1876 as Texas’ first public institution of higher learning, Texas A&M was essentially an all-male institution until 1963, when enrollment of women was formally allowed on “a limited basis.” The limitation stipulated that women could enroll at Texas A&M if that was the only public institution in the state that offered a woman her desired course of study. Soon afterwards, women started enrollment in ever increasing numbers without regard to their courses of study, university records show, and on-campus housing was made available to them beginning in 1972.

“This ranking accentuates universities that provide exceptional academic programs and thorough support services for women and individuals passionate about gender equality,” notes the College Choice editors. “We began with a base list of hundreds of regionally accredited schools who are ranked highly by the Women’s Choice Award for being top colleges for women. From there we ranked the schools according to affordability, financial aid awarded, female student satisfaction, return on investment, and academic reputation. We are confident that the list will provide a great launching pad for all looking for a quality school with thoughtful programming and services that promote gender equity.”

Follow live: UT System Board meeting on campus carry rules

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will meet Wednesday morning and is scheduled to discuss concealed carry rules adopted by the presidents of the system’s 14 academic and health campuses.

The meeting will address two contentious rules at the University of Texas at Austin that would bar license holders from carrying semiautomatic handguns with chambered rounds and allow the sole occupant of a university office to declare the room off-limits to guns.

Follow American-Statesman higher education writer Ralph K. M. Haurwitz who will live-tweet the meeting when it goes into open session about 11 a.m.

Pro-concealed carry group, Paxton blast UT professors’ lawsuit

At best, a Hail Mary pass. At worst, an attempt to manipulate the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

That’s how Students for Concealed Carry, a nonprofit group whose name states its mission, described a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court by three professors at the Austin campus. The professors want to be able to prohibit the carrying of concealed handguns in their classrooms.

Here’s what Antonia Okafor, Southwest regional director of Students for Concealed Carry, had to say in an emailed statement:

“Licensed concealed carry has been allowed throughout most of Texas for more than twenty years, with no indication that it has led to an increase in violent crime or gun accidents. It’s been allowed on more than 100 U.S. college campuses for an average of seven years, without a single report of a resulting assault, suicide attempt, or fatality of any kind. To put it in terms these professors should understand, the clinical trials are over, and campus carry has been shown to pose little risk to public safety.”

For his part, state Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said he would vigorously defend the campus carry law. His emailed statement:

“This lawsuit is not only baseless, it is an insult to the millions of law abiding gun owners in Texas and across this country. The Texas Legislature passed a constitutionally sound law, and I will vigorously defend it. Adults who are licensed by the State to carry a handgun anywhere in Texas do not suddenly become a menace to society when they set foot on campus. The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed for all Americans, including college students, and must be vigilantly protected and preserved.”

UT President Gregory L. Fenves is another defendant in the case. “We are reviewing the lawsuit,” his spokesman, Gary Susswein, said by email.

When he announced the university’s campus carry policies in February, Fenves made it clear that his personal views don’t square up with his obligation to uphold the law, which bars policies that generally prohibit concealed handguns.

“I do not believe handguns belong on a university campus, so this decision has been the greatest challenge of my presidency to date,” Fenves said at the time. “I empathize with the many faculty members, staffers, students and parents of students who signed petitions, sent emails and letters, and organized to ban guns from campus and especially classrooms. As a professor, I understand the deep concerns raised by so many. However, as president, I have an obligation to uphold the law.”