University of the Incarnate Word President Dr. Lou Agnese Jr. speaks about the importance of providing opportunities for high school students interested in careers in the healthcare field during a press conference in April 2016. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.

Agnese’s Leaked Racial Remarks Lead UIW Board to Break Silence

In a definitive move to distance the Board of Trustees from longtime President Lou Agnese Jr. and the disturbing racial remarks he directed at students during a luncheon last week, University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) Chairman Charles Lutz confirmed Agnese is on leave in a statement Friday, saying that “recent comments by Dr. Agnese are not consistent with the traditions and values of the University and cannot be condoned.”

The Board now seems headed for a Monday meeting and resolution of its tense standoff with Agnese, who last week defied a Board decision to place him on a 90-day medical leave and told the Express-News in an interview that he was not on medical leave and intended to “sue the pants” off Lutz and the Board unless the press release was retracted and Agnese was allowed to return from a Hawaii vacation to assume his regular duties after some further time off.

University of the Incarnate Word President Lou Agnese. Photo by Scott Ball.

UIW Showdown Between President and Chair Imminent

University of Incarnate Word (UIW) is bracing itself for a showdown Monday between its 31-year president, Lou Agnese, and Board Chair Charles Lutz over the chairman’s controversial public statement voicing “considerable concern” for Agnese’s well-being following “sporadic uncharacteristic behavior and comments.”

Apologizing to offended employees and students, the Thursday statement claimed Agnese “has requested medical leave and the university has granted that request for a 90-day period.”

But according to former board member and Agnese’s decades-long friend, Jesus Rangel, Agnese not only “vehemently denies that he acted the way he is being characterized” or the presence of any medical issue.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, talks with an aide during testimony Dec. 7, 2015 before the Senate Education Committee on teacher-student relationships. Photo by Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune.

Lawmakers Look at Tying School Funds to Performance

Should Texas fund public schools based on their academic performance rather than just giving them a certain amount of money per student? As that idea appears to take hold with conservative lawmakers who want increased accountability, some school officials fear a badly designed program would sap funding from poor, struggling schools or fail to consider the challenges individual schools face. 

At Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s direction, state senators on Wednesday will begin exploring how best to go about tying funding to performance, with the upper chamber’s education committee set to take testimony from several entities — including for-profit companies — that have designed such systems.
School officials are highly wary of the concept, which was among several education-related interim charges Patrick announced late last year.

Texas Universities to Launch Online Counseling

Faced with soaring demand for mental health services from students struggling with depression and anxiety, three Texas universities plan to launch an online counseling program this fall replacing face-to-face therapy with informational videos, online exercises and video consultations that cut the time spent on each individual by nearly 70 percent.