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Texas Threatens Shutdown of College Physics Programs for Low Graduation

By Eugenie Samuel Reich of Nature magazine

Texas higher-education officials delivered a stern message to physicists yesterday that the state is likely to stick to plans to phase out ‘low-performing’ physics programs within the next year or two if they cannot demonstrate compelling plans to improve.

Members of the American Physical Society requested yesterday’s meeting with the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) after announcements in recent weeks that nearly half of the 24 undergraduate physics programs at state funded universities could be on the chopping block if they fail to graduate at least 25 students every 5 years.

“Until now, most faculty members thought their role was to do research and teach courses they were assigned. Now, researchers at institutions in Texas are going to have to take responsibility for students graduating successfully,” says Michael Marder, a physicist at the University of Texas at Austin who attended the meeting.