Texas Student Media to be housed under Moody College of Communication as questions loom

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

New story: Texas Student Media and its entities, including The Daily Texan, are being moved under the domain of the Moody College of Communication, though many questions about the implications of the move remain unanswered.

TSM, the umbrella organization that manages a number of student-produced media properties, including Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan, is currently housed under the Division of Student Affairs and has been under severe financial constraints for the last several years.

Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody college, said he agreed to assume oversight of TSM after President William Powers Jr. asked him personally to do so. Hart said he does not have extensive background knowledge about current TSM operations.

“All I can say is the president called me over to his office. That was it,” Hart said. “I don’t know anything about the TSM Board, or what its procedures are.”

Powers, who is currently in Washington, D.C. for a White House conference on higher-education access for low-income students, was unavailable for comment. 

Although Hart and Gage Paine, vice president of student affairs, attended a TSM board meeting in September to solicit feedback about a potential move to the college, no decisions were made at the meeting, and multiple members of the TSM Board, including board President Dave Player, said they had not been made aware of any part of the negotiation process.

“No one ever contacted me about it from the administration, or from the [Moody college],” Player said. “This is how much they value student input: not at all.”

Player said he was concerned about the lack of detail provided to board members about the implications of the move.

“We want to make sure we preserve the autonomy of the paper,” Player said. “We put a high value on being a student-run publication with student managers — student content decided by students — and we want to make sure that’s preserved.”

Cliff Avery, president of Friends of the Texan, a recently formed alumni group, said his organization was also unaware a decision had been made.

Robert Quigley, journalism senior lecturer and member of the TSM Board, said he was optimistic about the move.

“I want to see [TSM] survive, and I think this is an important step in making that happen,” Quigley said. “I’m under the assumption that the trust will remain relatively intact, that we’ll still have a board and a director and all that. I don’t want to say for sure that one thing’s going to happen over another.”

University spokesman Gary Susswein said Powers is aware there are unanswered questions.

“In terms of finances, and some of the financial questions that have been raised, that still has to be worked out,” Susswein said. “We want UT to be able to maintain the Texan as a strong, independent student newspaper.”

Hart said it was important to recognize the ongoing nature of the situation and the uncertain state of TSM finances. Currently, TSM is without a director, as former director Jalah Goette announced her resignation in December. The University has yet to appoint someone in the interim.

“I really don’t have anybody in my thoughts [to oversee operations] . . . There are just a lot of unknowns,” Hart said. “The president and I both agreed that we have to have a functioning fundraising operation, and that’ll be really helpful. It’s not going to help in the short term, but, in the long term, philanthropy can hopefully become part of the solution for [TSM] . . . It’s something I haven’t really had a chance to get my teeth into. It’s in a very sort of still-working-it-out stage.”

Hart said that, although he had reservations about the move initially, he felt strongly about the work TSM entities do.

“This is not something I lusted for, but I’m a real fan of [TSM], in all its pieces and parts,” Hart said. “If I can be helpful in the process, I will do so. That’s what I told the president. I don’t have any great expertise to bring to it at this moment.” 

Additional reporting by Julia Brouillette, Nicole Cobler, Alyssa Mahoney and Madlin Mekelburg

Original story: Texas Student Media and its properties, including The Daily Texan, are being moved under the domain of the Moody College of Communication, multiple sources inside the college confirmed Wednesday.

TSM is the umbrella organization that manages a number of student-produced media properties, including Cactus Yearbook, The Daily Texan, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV and KVRX 91.7 FM. It is currently housed under the Division of Student Affairs.

The University planned to announce the move on Friday, so sources including administrators and faculty members were unable to confirm the move on the record. Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College, is travelling and did not return multiple requests for comment.

Though Hart and Gage Paine, vice president of student affairs, attended a TSM board meeting in September to solicit feedback about a potential move to the College, no decision was made about moving forward. Multiple members of the TSM board, including TSM board president Dave Player, said they were not informed that negotiations were ongoing, or that a decision was made.

Player said he was taken aback by the decision.

“No one ever contacted me about it from the administration, or from the communication school,” Player said. “This is how much they value student input: not at all.”

Player said he was concerned about the lack of detail provided to board members about the implications of the move.

“We want to make sure we preserve the autonomy of the paper,” Player said. “We put a high value on being a student-run publication with student managers, student content decided by students, and we want to make sure that’s preserved.”

Cliff Avery, president of Friends of the Texan, a recently formed alumni group, said his organization was also unaware a decision had been made.

“In fact, we had a board meeting, a conference call, scheduled for the 24th [of January] to see how we wanted to weigh in on this discussion,” Avery said.

Robert Quigley, journalism senior lecturer and member of the TSM Board, said he was optimistic about the move.

“I want to see [TSM] survive, and I think this is an important step in making that happen,” Quigley said. “I’m under the assumption that the trust will remain relatively intact, that we’ll still have a board and a director and all that. I don’t want to say for sure that one thing’s going to happen over another.”

While an interest in moving to the Moody College has arisen in recent years, TSM’s dire financial circumstances ramped up discussions starting in September. Additionally, TSM director Jalah Goette announced in December that she will be stepping down from her role.

“The communications school has more development officers than the vice president of student affairs had ... the [College] has a team, they’re good at what they do,” Quigley said. “They know how to bring in money.”

Clarification: Dave Player's quote referencing the administration's concern for the students has been clarified since the original publication of this story.