Washington D.C.

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When tourists visit the National Mall in Washington D.C., they aren’t aware of the work and planning that goes into determining the different memorials’ details, said Phillip Kennicott, Washington Post art and architecture critic, in a speech at the Harry Ransom Center on Tuesday.

Kennicott said the District of Columbia War Memorial, which commemorates the fallen soldiers of World War I, involved many underlying factors and decisions that the public is unaware of.

“It’s a subject that’s kind of hidden in plain sight in Washington,” Kennicott said. “What people don’t realize is  there is this whole political backstory that there are in fact these organizations, like the Commission of Fine Arts, that have power, they were federally appointed people — they’re still federally appointed — to kind of go through every single detail [of the memorials].

Kennicott said people don’t appreciate the complexity of the architectural planning involved in the memorials in Washington. Kennicott also said one of the things that goes unseen is the memorials transformation, and he said he urges students to visit memorials surrounding them.

“When we visit Washington, we go there, and we just sort of see [the memorials] finished, and we don’t see that process of evolution,” Kennicott said. “There’s a lot of authorities to sort of guide these things to looking better. You don’t necessarily know that when you see Washington, but, when that process works well, it actually works really well. … I would love for students to get out and look at the memorial landscape that’s all around them.”

Steve Enniss, director of the Harry Ransom Center, said remembering history and how it is construed plays a key role on how the present is characterized.

“The topic of how we remember the past is of vital importance to how we define who we are in the present,” Enniss said. “So that kind of historical memory, whether it’s expressed through monuments and memorials, is vitally important for defining who we are in the present.”

Elizabeth Garver, associate professor and co-curator of the World War I memorial at the Ransom Center, said the World War I memorialization shows the impact it still has today.  

“For memorialization, it’s much more about how we’re still under the influence of World War I and the peace treaty, and all these boundaries rewritten after the war, the boundaries of Europe, the boundaries of Africa, the boundaries of the Middle East and how we’re still under the influence of the first world war,” Garver said.

UT President William Powers Jr. attended the president’s and first lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity event Thursday in Washington D.C.

According to Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, the event focused on increasing the opportunity to attend college for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds by asking leaders from universities, businesses and communities to make commitments to address this issue in 2014. Sperling said the event “would not be the destination; it would be the launch.”

In a list released by the White House containing commitments from all of the event’s participants, Powers outlined a variety of pledges he made on behalf of UT. His commitments focus primarily on expanding existing programs to increase college opportunities for youth in underprivileged areas.

Powers’ pledges include a plan to offer students financial aid in exchange for maintaining good standing in the University Leadership Network, a program focused on developing academic and leadership skills. He also included a promise to expand the Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment program to more than 500 students, which allows students to take most of their classes at a community college and one course at UT per semester.

The TEDMED conference streamed live to the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center Wednesday afternoon discussed modern medicine and healthcare.

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

Streamed live to UT students and staff from Washington D.C., this year’s TEDMED conference explored perspectives on modern medicine and health care around the world.

Carolyn Kenny, MBA graduate student and president of the MBA Healthcare Association, which co-hosted the event with TEDxAustin, said TEDMED is an opportunity for viewers to learn about issues in health care directly from an influential collective of researchers. 

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a set of conferences owned by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation. TED hosts programs around the globe and post lectures online, emphasizing innovative and engaging research presentation.

“The idea behind TEDMED is to bring speakers who are innovators in their field together, and then people together to watch those speakers,” Kenny said. “It’s a big deal because it’s globally dispersed, so the conference is actually in Washington, D.C., but there’s people all around the world in 80 different countries watching the content.”

The conference was streamed at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. In one of many talks, Jonathan Bush, an entrepreneur and CEO of athenahealth, spoke about the relationship between for-profit and nonprofit institutions in health care. 

“He was talking about disrupting the idea that once you’re at the top, you have to protect your turf and stay only in that market area, but you know, redefining and enlarging your market,” said Melanie Smith, UT alumna and Austin resident. “I thought that was a great idea.”

Although only day one of the three-day conference was screened, Kenny said students and staff have access to all the content because of UT’s status as a TEDMED flagship affiliate.

“So we are hosting this one day of the event, but because we are a flagship affiliate, we actually are allowing students and staff of the university to have access to the content through Sunday, which is really exciting,” Kenny said.

Shelly Tom, an MBA graduate student and vice president of Austin affairs of the MBA Healthcare Association, said the TEDMED talks are important to the work of MBA students. 

“TEDMED, being very forward thinking, challenging conventional thought, is really a great opportunity for us MBA students to understand and listen to what these leaders, these scientists are doing, and how that can impact what we’re doing in our work and in our line of work,” Tom said.

Kenny said she expects there will be more TED screenings in the future.

“This is the second year that the MBA Healthcare Association has hosted TEDMED, and I think that’s something we would like to continue to do in future years because we’re getting lots of positive response from the UT community about it," she said.