University of California

Digital artist Casey Reas’ “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” is a new permanent art installation in the Gates Dell Complex. Commissioned in part by the computer science department, the wall mural will officially be unveiled Friday.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Casey Reas, a digital media artist and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, can paint a picture with technology.

His unorthodox medium is what brought his two-part wall mural, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication,” to the Gates Dell Complex on campus as a permanent installation. The piece will be unveiled Friday afternoon, featuring a Q-and-A with Reas, followed by a reception.

The piece was commissioned through a partnership between Landmarks, the University’s public art program, and the computer science department. Reas made a point to visit the University before finalizing his installment. 

“A lot of the piece came out of my visit to campus earlier in the year,” Reas said. “My work for many years has worked with ideas of emergence and information theory, and it became a hybrid between ideas I had been working with, along with the research that is going on in the building by the different faculty.”

Reas took an original source material, communication media such as television waves and radio waves, and gradually broke down their codes until they appeared to be abstract.

“I start with a series of images, like a collage,” Reas said. “Then I write some software to break them down and reassemble them into a new form, and, in the case of this piece, that new form is printed. Even though it looks largely abstract, the origin of this piece is in a very representational photographic image.”

In collaboration with Landmarks, the computer science department was searching for a piece to complement the existing grid-like, structured art installations in the building. Artist Sol LeWitt’s sculpture installation, “Circle with Towers,” sits in front of the Gates Dell Complex.

“LeWitt was creating the instructions and using people to construct the work,” said Nickolas Nobel, the Landmarks external affairs coordinator. “Casey Reas is using the computer in order to create the design for the work and then using the computer itself to construct the work.”

Once Reas had the rendered image, the work was printed by inkjet printers onto a material similar to wallpaper. 

“The GDC feels very modern, and that contrasts it pretty hard,” computer science junior Robert Lynch said. “Something like the Sol LeWitt painting behind the elevators has vivid colors and sharp angles, which complement the building’s shape, which is why I like it.”

Nobel said much consideration went into the placement of Reas’ piece.

“The work is there to complement and be a response to its own location,” Nobel said. “This is particularly true with Casey Reas’ work, where he is synthesizing technology and art.”

The piece was largely inspired by the book “The Mathematical Theory of Communication,” by Claude Shannon, and Shannon’s views on information theory, according to Reas.

“I’m really interested in the fundamental elements in a metaphorical sense of patterns,” Reas said. “This piece is all about images and mass communication and about how images are taken apart and analyzed and put back together again, or how they are pressed and decompressed.”

Reas said the biggest misconception about his work is that the computers make all the decisions for him.  

“It’s a very traditional way of working in the studio,” Reas said. “It feels like there’s this potential that is unexplored, and there is just this joy of making things and seeing them.”

President William Powers Jr. speaks in the Avaya Auditorium in January. He called for increasing UT’s efficiency by cutting costs.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Last week’s high-profile hearings of Regent Wallace Hall have highlighted what some see as a vendetta against UT President William Powers Jr. It has also brought out many of the president’s supporters, such as UT Student Government President Horacio Villarreal and Andrew Clark, president of the Senate of College Councils, who defended Powers for making the University competitive internationally.

The criticism from right-leaning regents centers on issues such as the Law School’s loan of $500,000 to former dean Larry Sager, personal administrative grudges and long-standing disagreements between Powers and the regents over tuition increases. On Powers’ left, some student activists and professors resist not only tuition hikes, but also cuts to cultural studies programs. But beyond specific issues, the larger debate is: How should we see our University? As a business? A factory? Or as a training ground teaching scholars to ask the tough questions?

In an environment where UT depends increasingly on private funds instead of state support, the idea of the university as a place for intellectual entrepreneurship replaces the idea of the university as a place for apprenticeship for critical thought. This shift dates back to the founding of mass public education and the case of Clark Kerr, who was president of the University of California in the 1960s and is considered the intellectual founder of the post-war U.S. public university.  

A conflict between students and Kerr arose out of student defiance of Kerr’s ban on student political activity, and widened into a direct challenge of the vision he had created of a university at the service of private industry and national interests. As investigative journalist Seth Rosenfeld points out in his book “Subversives,” the University of California Board of Regents saw Kerr’s subsequent negotiation with students as threatening traditional university culture. Students saw the ban as one more example that Kerr was an agent of the “machine” that used the language of business and progress to stifle larger systemic debates. Today, Powers is portrayed by some regents as an embattled president not interested enough in four-year graduation rates and evaluation-based salaries. Budget-cut protesters see a mainstream president without the political will or wherewithal to defend vulnerable humanities programs. 

UT’s and Berkeley’s conflicts and circumstances differ. Nevertheless, Kerr’s language during a period of economic prosperity, is strikingly similar to that of Powers, whose University faces a tightening budget despite Texas’ growth in the recession. Kerr, like Powers, was wedged between two factions — those in the university systems who wanted a more conformist university, and student activists who wanted a “humane” university involved in political struggles. Powers, like Kerr, emphasizes a harmonious vision of diversity in which competing interests dialogue with him, the arbitrator and the manager. Kerr’s speeches from that era are not that different from Powers’ most recent addresses. Powers often speaks in his State of the University Addresses of the University as a “business” that tries to maximize output in its “core competencies” to get maximum “return on investment.” Kerr spoke of the university “as a knowledge factory” in which the president was a “mediator” that facilitated the “production” of new research for private industry and national growth. 

On the other side of the conceptual debate stood student activist Mario Savio. Savio argued that if Kerr saw the university as a firm with “the regents as the Board of Directors” and Kerr as the “manager,” students are “the raw material” to “be bought by clients.” He disagreed with Kerr’s business metaphor, saying students were human beings, not fodder for business. For university activists protesting the Faustian bargain of more budget cuts or higher tuition in the midst of new construction, these words are prophetic.

If we historically contextualize last week’s hearings, students will realize that ideological pressures, not economic circumstances, motivate university officials to reshape how we think about the role of a university education and our own humanity. As actors in this play, students should take a cue from Savio and question whether wrestling with tough economic times necessarily implies that we must become merely “efficient” consumers shopping for a university product.

Knoll is a first-year master’s student in Latin American studies from Dallas. Follow Knoll on Twitter @tknoll209K.

Sophomore Brooks Marlow connects on Texas’ first home run of the season in a loss to Stanford. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Sophomore Parker French is expected to take the mound on Friday night for the first game of a three-game series as the Longhorns host the University of California at Santa Barbara to open up spring break competition this weekend.

French returns to the mound after a shutout loss last weekend on the road at Stanford. The sophomore is 2-1 on the season with a 1.77 ERA. In his opening appearance, French blanked Sacramento State through seven innings before the Texas bullpen surrendered five runs in the 6-5 Longhorn victory. Against former Big 12 rival Nebraska, French gave up two runs in the second before keeping them at bay through six innings.

This past Tuesday, the Longhorns (7-5) defeated UT-Pan American at home, 6-1. The win broke the Longhorns’ four-game losing streak which saw Texas lose to Sam Houston State in a midweek game before being swept for the second year in a row by Stanford on the road. Junior third baseman Erich Weiss and sophomore second baseman Brooks Marlow both headlined the Texas offensive efforts while freshman pitcher Chad Hollingsworth got his third win of the season in as many starts.

Weiss logged three RBIs to add to the three earned last weekend during the Longhorns’ 0-3 series loss at Stanford. The junior is hitting .302 for the season and joins freshman C.J. Hinojosa and junior Mark Payton as the three starters hitting above .300 for the year.

Marlow notched the Longhorns’ first home run of the season, a two-run shot over the right field line. The sophomore, who until recently had not been featured in the starting lineup, has four hits and two runs with two RBIs through eight games played.

UC Santa Barbara is sporting an 8-4 record and is currently riding a four-game win streak. The Gauchos dominated St. Mary’s, 10-1, this past Monday and swept San Jose State in a three-game series the weekend before. The Santa Barbara offense is hitting .280 on the season with a team ERA of 3.25.

Texas will follow up this weekend’s series with UC Santa Barbara with a Tuesday matchup with Oral Roberts and a series against Texas Tech at home next weekend.

Published on March 8, 2013 as "Homestead conitinues for Horns". 

Former UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof announced plans Friday to step down as president of the University of California and to return to teaching law at UC-Berkeley after serving the University of California for five years.

“While the decision is my own, the moment comes with a mixture of emotions,” Yudof said in a personal statement issued Friday. “I was both honored and humbled to serve as [the UC System’s] president for what has been nearly five years now.”

Yudof served on the boards and faculties of several large universities prior to his induction as the president of the University of California, including the University of Minnesota, UT and the law schools of the University of Michigan and UC-Berkeley.

Yudof came to UT in 1971 and started work as an assistant professor at the law school, eventually earning the position of dean of the School of Law, which he served as for 10 years until 1994. 

From 1994 to 1997 he served as executive vice president and provost at UT. In June 2002, the UT System Board of Regents appointed Yudof as the ninth chancellor of the system, before Yudof took a job as president of the University of California in June 2008. 

UC System spokeswoman Brooke Converse said Yudof was offered a dual appointment as both the president of the UC System and a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law.

Yudof’s term as president began within challenging circumstances, including a declining economy and severe cuts in funding from the state of California for higher education. To counter the decrease in funding, Yudof nearly doubled tuition rates over the next five years, a move that was met with considerable opposition from students.

Yudof’s resignation came with what he calls “a spate of taxing health issues” and a need to “make a change in my professional lifestyle.” Converse said that it is “possible he has other reasons” but she said she could not speak for him personally.

Randa Safady, vice chancellor for external relations at the UT System, said despite Yudof’s challenges, he leaves a lasting legacy.

“While there were periods of tumultuous activity during his leadership [at UC], I think the history books will refer to Mark Yudof as one of the greatest academic leaders of all time, both in California and in Texas,” Safady said in an email.

Published on January 23, 2013 as "Former UT Chancellor returns to teaching law". 

A Republican group at the University of California, Berkeley has cooked up controversy with a plan to hold an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale” as a satirical way to oppose legislation that would allow public colleges to consider race and other factors in student admissions.

Students at the Berkeley College Republicans’ event set for Tuesday will be charged different prices based on race, gender and ethnicity, with white students charged the most, Native Americans the least, and women receiving a 25 percent discount, according to the Facebook event posting.

“If you don’t come, you’re a racist!” the post declares. The group’s website contains a link to the Facebook page.

In response to the sale, the Associated Students of the University of California unanimously approved a resolution Sunday that “condemns the use of discrimination whether it is in satire or in seriousness by any student group.”

Student Republican groups have held similar events on other college campuses to oppose affirmative action policies.

The Berkeley event is aimed at opposing a bill on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk that would allow the University of California and California State University systems to consider race, ethnicity and gender while deciding admissions.

California previously banned affirmative action in public college admissions, hiring and contracting when voters approved Proposition 209 in 1996.
The bake sale on the famously liberal Berkeley campus was organized to counter the student association’s plan to sponsor a call-in booth where students can urge the governor to sign SB185, the bill authored by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina.

Members of the Republican group say the bake sale is meant to show how affirmative action policies are a form of discrimination.

“Measuring any admit’s merit based on race is intrinsically racist,” according to the event posting. “The pricing structure of the baked goods is meant to be satirical, while urging students to think more critically about the implications of this policy.”

Joey Freeman, a spokesman for the student body association, said campus Republicans have the right to organize against the legislation and the campus phone-in effort, but he’s disappointed in the tactics.

“It is very offensive to many communities on campus,” Freeman said. “We try to promote a healthy campus climate. Events like this bake sale get in the way of respect for one another.”

Printed on September 27, 2011 as: 'Diversity bake sale' starts discrimination disputes at Berkeley

Today is in no way the golden age of African-American participation in athletics because of negative stereotypes in the media and dwindling numbers of athletes, said Harry Edwards, sociology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Legal scholar Arthur Miller moderated a discussion Thursday at the LBJ Auditorium, where athletes, professors and sports reporters gathered to discuss the relationship between sports, media and race.

African-American participation in most sports — except football and basketball — has been on a steady decline since 1973, Edwards said. This year, 8 percent of major league baseball players are African-American, compared to 23 percent in 1973, he said. The Dodgers only had one African-American on the roster last season, the same amount as they had when Jackie Robinson was playing in 1947.

Dwindling numbers and the media’s portrayal of black athletes as lacking sportsmanship have contributed to the phasing out of African-Americans in athletics today, he said.

“Black athletes are either a clown or a criminal, there’s nobody in between,” he said. “There is no white Ochocinco. The reality is, I’m less concerned about T.O. and Ochocinco than I am about the media that projects and portrays them, and the fact that so many people in society want to see these things.”

But African-American athletes have never truly controlled the problematic image, which has been shaped largely by the white team owners, sponsors and media, Edwards said.

Out of 300 U.S. newspapers, African-Americans made up only 6.2 percent of sports writers, and only five out of 300 sports editors were black, according to a June 2006 study by the University of Central Florida.

As today’s sports have become less about talent and more about business, the public and sponsors are favoring showmanship, said radio-television-film professor Craig Watkins.

“We don’t like to think of it this way, but sports are also theater and performance,” he said. “When we see something as being less civil or less sportsmanlike than it should be, we need to recognize that the camera is on, the lights are on, they’re going into prime time and they’re going into character.”

Former WNBA player Fran Harris said professional football players such as Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are rewarded with reality shows and media exposure mostly for their bombastic personalities.

“If you’re civil towards each other and there’s no showmanship, you don’t get the reality show,” she said. “Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. Those are the rewards and perks of being an athlete today.”

Journalism sophomore Hannah Shea said the idea of any race or nationality being excluded from sports in America is appalling.

“If you appreciate sports, you have to appreciate everyone who’s involved and who shows their skill,” she said. “Right now, I think there is a big racial divide.”

Women's swimming & diving

Despite inconsistencies connected with the renovations at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center that forced the closure of the pool throughout their summer practice schedule, the Longhorns are poised for an exciting season. Texas travels this weekend to compete against the University of California in their first true contest of the season.

Diving coach Matt Scoggin praised the team for how they have handled these less-than-ideal conditions.

“When we moved back in, things weren’t exactly perfect just yet, but kudos to the team for really not throwing a single complaint up through the whole month,” he said. “They are ready to go.”

Swimming and diving head coach Kim Brackin mirrored Scoggin’s optimism despite the renovations, maintaining that the team is “well-conditioned” heading into the fall.

The team has positive expectations as it heads to California — the same place they began their 2008 campaign.

“Just knowing what the pool looks like and having that sense of familiarity is a positive thing,” Brackin said.

This sense of familiarity will go a long way as the Longhorns face a strong California team lead by sophomore Caitlin Leverenz, junior Liv Jensen and senior Hannah Wilson.

Texas brings a team heavy with freshmen, but Brackin is confident that they are where they need to be."

“They are doing a great job,” Brackin said. “They understand that this is the University of Texas and [that] they have to work really hard.”

In addition to a large amount of freshman talent, Kathleen Hersey, along with Laura Sogar and Karlee Bispo, lead a strong returning group.

The diving team is no less prepared.

“Physically we’re stronger than we’ve ever been,” Scoggin said.

Junior Lauren Caldwell, sophomores Maren Taylor, Diana Wilcox and Samantha Holland and redshirt sophomore Shelby Cullinan lead a diving team that will be a “force to contend with.”

The Longhorns surprised California when the two squads last faced off in 2008. This year, Brackin knows the Golden Bears will be ready.

“They know when Texas travels to a meet that we’re ready to race,” Brackin said.