Gulf Spill, Readying Workforce Top Former Mayor’s Mind

Published on May 26, 2010

Former Houston Mayor Tells Alumni Quality Education Makes State Stronger

Bill White at the Bauer Alumni Association’s monthly breakfast.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White spoke at the Bauer College Alumni Association monthly networking breakfast meeting in May, offering the gathering of University of Houston alumni his thoughts about the importance of improving Texas’ universities, the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and a bit on Cougar football.

White, the Democrat challenger to Governor Rick Perry, addressed the monthly gathering put on by the Bauer College Alumni Association. The big theme was investing on education as an economic development tool:

“Today we have so much potential (in Texas). Houston is in the vanguard of celebrating the diversity of this state. But we will never be as strong as we could be if we continue to lag behind other states, and even other countries, in preparing our workforce.”

The needs range from raising grade school math scores to working to push more of the state’s universities into the top tier of research institutions, which is a top priority for the University of Houston.

“There are states with 15 Tier 1 universities. Texas has three — two are public schools. That will never get us where we need to go.”

This support would also be aimed at making college more affordable:

“At the University of Houston there are students from around the world. These international students pay full freight – not in-state tuition. Their tuition is subsidized here by their countries. They come from many countries with lower per-capita income than the U.S. They view an investment in people and brain force as an asset.”

A pressing economic issue facing Houston is the blowout of the BP oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and was continuing to spew oil. The disaster has led to calls for a cutoff of offshore drilling, which White said would be a mistake:

“There are those who say this is inevitable or an act of God we have to live with. This was a preventable accident. We should get to the root cause and work through this. It would be a tragedy if people thought that this is inevitable and we decided not to develop our resources.”

And he likened the need for a better education to the importance of hard work and equipment for the UH football team, which led to a mention of last year’s game between the Houston Cougar ‘s nationally ranked football team and Texas Tech.

“Anybody who doesn’t like football should watch a recording of the last quarter of that game, and then say if football is not an entertaining game.”

The networking breakfast is presented by James E. Bashaw & Co.

By Stephen Rassenfoss

Posted Under: Alumni

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