• UT student diagnosed with mumps

    University Health Services notified students Wednesday afternoon that a student has been diagnosed with mumps.

    Mumps is a highly contagious disease. Symptoms usually include fevers, body aches, loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches and swelling in a person’s salivary glands.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps outbreaks are rare, but in May 2015, the University alerted students to three different cases of mumps.

    This year, UHS has created a webpage where they track the number of mumps cases on campus by week and include any announcements they send to students.

    The page also includes tips for preventing the spread of the disease and tips on what to do if students think they have come in contact with the disease.

    In an attempt to prevent further spread of the disease, UHS is asking students to call their hotline ahead of time or schedule an appointment before coming in to be seen. Additionally, for students who have never been vaccinated for mumps, UHS can vaccinate students, which could help students avoid contracting the disease if they are around others who have it.

  • Darrell Bazzell named senior vice president, CFO of University

    President Gregory L. Fenves named Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as senior vice president and chief financial officer of the University on Tuesday. Bazzell will assume his new role at UT on April 18.

    Bazzell worked as CFO for the University of Wisconsin-Madison for almost 13 years. He oversaw budgeting and financing for UW-Madison's medical school and academic medical center and worked with campus organizations to develop more efficient budgeting practices, according to a press release.

    At UW-Madison, he supported the First Wave initiative, which uses urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture to promote learning and diversity engagement.

    From 2001–2003, he served as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and has also worked with Wisconsin state agencies and the state legislature.

    Bazzell said he is honored to serve as the University’s new CFO.

    “As I considered this role and the financial challenges that confront public research universities, I was very impressed by the consistently high level of enthusiasm for UT Austin,” Bazzell said in a press release.

    Bazzell will take over for Mary Knight, who has served as interim CFO at the University since February 2015.  

    In an email to faculty and students Tuesday, Fenves said he thinks Bazzell's experience will help the University increase its collaboration and research innovation.

    “His collaborative style and his financial expertise will allow us to continue to support our teaching, research and service missions and to move the university forward.” Fenves said.  

  • Chancellor reveals cost of possible Houston expansion, said it’s “years” away from breaking ground

    Chancellor William McRaven revealed to lawmakers Wednesday the total cost of the UT System’s planned expansion into Houston: $15 million a year for the next 30 years.

    The System purchased the first portion of the land Friday as part of a larger plan to purchase a total of 300 acres in Houston to build a campus there. The expansion has come under criticism from lawmakers because of concerns about inhibiting the growth efforts of existing Houston-based institutions such as Rice University, the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.

    When speaking with lawmakers, McRaven emphasized the benefits to the state of expanding into Houston and said the System was years away from breaking ground on a new campus in Houston.

    “Our goal is to build something that will bring the best talent to the city for collaboration and innovation,” McRaven said, according to the Texas Tribune. “We want to astound people with our boldness. And we are beginning with a blank canvas... We are only limited by our drive, our imagination and our courage to challenge conventional wisdom.”

    McRaven is expected to address the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board tomorrow on the possible Houston expansion.

  • Psychology professor to lead initiative on educational innovation

    Under a new five-year initiative, the University will look into incorporating more technology into courses and experimenting with more innovative teaching methods.

    The initiative, Project 2021, will be headed by psychology professor James Pennebaker, according to President Gregory Fenves, who announced the initiative and appointment Tuesday morning.

    “Increasing the value of the undergraduate experience is a priority for the University,” Fenves said. “[Pennebaker] will help ensure our undergraduate students receive the maximum benefit of our campus through the integration of research and education.”

    In his new role, Pennebaker will coordinate offices at UT — including extended campus, learning sciences and the faculty innovation center —  to evaluate new teaching methods and course designs that better integrate technology and education in courses.

    “This is a rare opportunity to bring together new approaches to teaching and research to help the University shape the future of undergraduate education,” Pennebaker said in a press release.
    According to Joey Williams, interim communications director for the executive vice president and provost office, Pennebaker is a renowned social psychologist who has focused his research on understanding how students learn and communicate in groups, making him an ideal candidate for his new roles.

    Pennebaker said he is honored to be a part of an initiative as massive and exciting as Project 2021.

    “My goal is to work with various parts of the University to try to help prepare UT for the next generation of teaching and learning,” Pennebaker said. “President Fenves’s vision will establish UT as a leader in undergraduate training.”

    Pennebaker, who served as the psychology department chair from 2005 to 2014 and has worked at UT for nearly two decades, will also serve as special advisor to the provost for educational innovation. He has received many awards for his work in his field,  such as the Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology recently awarded by the American Psychological Association.

    “He’s known for being very innovative and using research and technology in his classes,” Williams said. “He’s really been studying this in his own research for some time, trying to be innovative and leveraging technology when appropriate.”

    This story has been updated since its initial publication.

  • Hartzell appointed as new dean of McCombs School of Business

    The University announced Thursday that Jay Hartzell has been appointed as the new dean of the McCombs School of Business.

    Currently a senior associate dean for academic affairs at McCombs, Hartzell will begin serving as dean on Feb. 1, holding the Centennial Chair in Business Education Leadership. Hartzell is currently the Trammell Crow Regents Professor in the Department of Finance and served as executive director of the McCombs School’s Real Estate Finance and Investment Center in 2007.

    “Jay is an outstanding scholar and engaged member of UT's community,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said in an email to the University. “I am enthusiastic about his leadership as McCombs continues to lead the innovation of business education and research.”

    Hartzell also served as chair of the Department of Finance from 2011 to 2014.

    As chair, he created the one-year Master of Science in Finance degree and also started the Undergraduate Real Estate Certificate Program.

    According to Fenves, the program is “an excellent example of the interdisciplinary collaboration that [he] would like to increase across campus.”

    “It is an enormous honor to be selected as the next dean of the McCombs School,” Hartzell said in a press release. “[The McCombs School] will continue to find new ways to expand and capitalize on our many strengths, including top faculty, outstanding students, talented staff, great industry partners, and a passionate alumni base.”

    A UT alumnus who earned his Ph.D. in finance at UT-Austin in 1998, Hartzell has twice been recognized as an Outstanding Core Instructor by students. His research focuses primarily on real estate finance, corporate finance and corporate governance.

    Red McCombs, the business school’s namesake, called the announcement “a great day for the University of Texas family” in a press release.

    “Jay has worked tirelessly to see that business students at Texas are prepared for leadership challenges facing our state, our nation and the world,” McCombs said. “I congratulate President Fenves on a wise appointment.”

    Hartzell replaces interim dean Laura Starks, who has served as dean ever since former dean Tom Gilligan stepped down from the position after the spring semester.