Rice expert available to comment on proposed free textbook legislation


David Ruth

Rice expert available to comment on proposed free textbook legislation

HOUSTON — (Sept. 27, 2017) — Daniel Williamson, managing director of Rice University-based nonprofit OpenStax, is available to comment on a bill reintroduced yesterday by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Al Franken, D-Minn., and Angus King, I-Maine, which is “designed to help students manage costs by making high-quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors and the public for free.”

Daniel WilliamsonThe bill, the Affordable College Textbook Act, would create a competitive grant program to support the creation and expand the use of open college textbooks — textbooks that are available under an open license, allowing professors, students, researchers and others to freely access the materials.

“A grant program is a phenomenal step toward more policies that improve student access and incentivize the use of open educational resources (OER),” Williamson said. “Nonfiscal policies can also contribute to lowering costs, as senators like Durbin, Franken and King work toward passing legislation.”

An example of a valuable nonfiscal policy is one that would increase the visibility of OER enabled courses by requiring education institutions and college bookstores to publish a textbook list with a course schedule that allows students to search for a course based on whether a course, or section of a course, requires or recommends only open educational resources, he said.

“For students like Jimmieka Mills, a mother and Houston Community College student, a $200 college textbook can seem like $1 million,” Williamson said. “As our government leaders look for ways to solve the college affordability problem, it’s critical we closely examine the impact of free, quality, openly licensed resources.”

Williamson said the open textbook model is proven: 1.5 million students are using OpenStax textbooks this academic year alone and saving $145 million. “A fiscal policy that encourages instructors and institutions to use OER and embrace the freedoms that they afford — access never expiring, opportunities to customize, the ability to integrate with technology platforms — could help improve college affordability and provide savings for students across the U.S. well into the billions,” he said.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Williamson, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


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Image courtesy Jemel Agulto/Rice University

Related OpenStax news from Rice:

OpenStax partners with Katalyst to deliver free textbooks to Poland

Rice University-based OpenStax partners with UK Open Textbooks – Sept. 12, 2017

Nearly 1.5 million college students to use free textbooks this school year — Aug. 10, 2017

OpenStax launches personalized learning tool for college courses — July 10, 2017

OpenStax’s 2016 partner schools expected to save students $8.2M in coming year — June 27, 2017

OpenStax, OER Commons partner on community hubs — Oct. 11, 2016

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Follow OpenStax on Twitter @OpenStax.

OpenStax is a nonprofit initiative of Rice University and is made possible by the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ann and John Doerr, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, the Maxfield Foundation, the Calvin K. Kanzanjian Foundation and the Leon Lowenstein Foundation. For more information, visit http://openstax.org.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.


About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.