Regents okay plans for music academy, advanced computers

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New initiatives for the University’s scientific research and music programs could help students gain career-oriented skills and new opportunities to earn money.

On Friday, the UT System Board of Regents approved two separate renovation plans totaling more than $70 million for the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the Butler School of Music. The music school has to raise at least $20 million to start its new project. The center will attempt to win a $56 million grant under the unexpended plant fund — money that the University has accumulated over time to fund different programs, said Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer of Financial Affairs.

“[The Center] wants to apply to attempt to win a grant that would pay for the development and operation of the next generation of supercomputers,” Hegarty said.

Center director Jay Boisseau said they will submit a proposal on March 7 to win the grant. The grant will benefit the School of Natural Sciences because every scientific field involves extensive computational research, such as weather tracking and seismic activity systems, he said.

“We want UT researchers to have [the] best instruments,” he said.

The computational research resources will help graduate and undergraduate students who are involved in computation-heavy research obtain their master’s or doctoral degrees by learning to use the emerging technology for discoveries, Boisseau said.

“They [will be] better prepared for research careers and for careers in industries that use advanced computing technologies [such as] aerospace engineering, petroleum engineering, etc.,” he said.

The center hires 10 students every semester to help develop and support systems and assist researchers in using advanced computing programs.

The board also granted permission to raise a $20 million fund for the School of Music. Hegarty said the responsibility to identify and secure donors for the project lies with the school itself.

If the school succeeds in raising the money, Hegarty said a new building will be built in East Campus and will serve as a music academy for Texas youth.

“A lot of money generated from these lessons will go back directly to students,” Hegarty said.

According to the board’s docket, music graduate students earn $120,000 per year in financial aid by teaching 330 K-12 students how to play instruments. The UT Academy of Music is expected to enroll 2,000 students, which will in turn increase financial aid by almost $900,000.

School of Music Chair B. Glenn Chandler said they will solicit private donors who are interested in funding these kinds of projects. The state is not providing any funding for this initiative, he said.

He also said now that the school has the board’s approval to raise money, they will start making the efforts to reach donors and start designing the building. The project does not yet have a scheduled timetable for completion, he said.

“We would love to see construction starting within the next couple of years,” Chandler said.