Quite a number of individuals over the years have envisioned the development of a university-wide education policy center that would weigh in on policy debates and deliberations of the day on the basis of rigorous research. Such individuals included Professors Pedro Reyes, Jay Scribner, Alba Ortiz, Gerald Torres, and former provost and current UT System Chancellor Mark Yudoff. Anne Mauzy and her husband, the late Oscar Mauzy, similarly envisioned the establishment of such a center and in 2002 established the Oscar and Anne Mauzy Endowment for Educational Policy Studies and Research. Most of these individuals attested to the following structural problems in the development of educational policies in Texas:
First, the lack of connection among university scholars and researchers whose work —sometimes in similar or overlapping areas—is relevant to educational policy. For example, researchers who work in the area of education policy in the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs were disconnected from their Education Policy and Planning counterparts located in the Department of Educational Administration.
Second, the lack of connection between the university community and the larger field of policymaking that includes a variety of stakeholder communities, as well as such bodies as our local and state school boards, state legislatures, and Congress. At best, the connection has been a haphazard one with relations forged among only a few select faculty.
Third, the lack of interconnectedness between the university community and the larger community of stakeholders in public education. These stakeholders include businesses and industries that will employ today’s students in the future, and policymakers at the local, state, and national levels.
A prevailing concern was that because of these disconnects, the potential for enacting and implementing policy that was not research-based was great. Additionally, the research trajectories of university faculty were not as fully informed as they would be with respect to policymaking were such lines of communication in place. Nevertheless, despite a decade-long attempt to establish a Center that would address these structural deficits, little happened until 2005.
In Fall of 2005, the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, attempted to recruit nationally renowned Professor Angela Valenzuela to their campus where she was to direct an education policy center that would focus on bringing the immigrant, Mexican community into higher education. The University of Texas countered with a generous counter-offer that included the establishment of a university-wide policy center that would advance research-based policies that promote fairness and excellence in public elementary, secondary and higher education. Located in the George I. Sanchez Building (SZB 518J), the Center’s doors opened in Spring of 2006.