Ohio State University

Good work at The Lantern

Jim Tressel
Jim Tressel

Jim Tressel resigned as head football coach at Ohio State University this week because of a scandal brought to light, at least in part, by student journalists at OSU's campus paper, The Lantern. Now, a story on ESPN.com is reporting that the reaction to The Lantern's outstanding work is somewhat less than fully positive. In fact, some of it is downright nasty. Check it out. Is the Texan prepared to do the digging necessary to unearth such an important story? And to withstand the blowback? I sure hope so. Anyone know of any shady dealings going on in connection with Longhorn memorabilia and/or tattoos? Do tell!

The College of Liberal Arts released a report today in which Dean Randy Diehl said suggestions in “The Seven Breakthrough Solutions for Higher Education” could significantly undermine the quality of education and research at the University.

Diehl said he agrees with the “The Solutions’” goals to improve productivity and excellence at the University by evaluating faculty and increasing scholarships and grant programs for students.

“This is just an honest disagreement in terms of how to achieve those goals,” Diehl said.

The solutions, written by Austin businessman Jeff Sandefer, are supported by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, as well as Ohio State University economics professor Richard Vedder and Gov. Rick Perry.

“Some state leaders are advocating a business-style, market-driven approach under which colleges and universities would treat students as customers, de-emphasize research that isn’t immediately lucrative and evaluate individual faculty by the tuition revenue they generate,” Diehl’s report says.

The UT System released data requested by the Board of Regents including faculty names, salaries and class enrollment sizes two months ago with cautionary statements saying the data is premature and cannot yield accurate results. Vedder responded to the release of data in op-ed articles saying if professors increased their class sizes, tuition could be reduced significantly.

“Professors are getting relief time from the classrooms to produce articles that are not worth anything, aren’t read or aren’t cited by other researchers,” Vedder said to The Daily Texan two weeks ago.

The College of Liberal Arts report addresses some proposals for improving higher education which are based on data that was not properly filtered, Diehl said.

The report also highlights the importance of research in humanities and arts and addresses class sizes and student rankings.

It makes a distinction between the roles of tenured track faculty members and assistant professors and administrators, who are considered the “least productive” members of the University, according to a press release sent out last week by the Texas Coalition for Higher Education.

The Graduate School released the names of the Dobie Paisano Writing Fellowship winners Friday, and expects to announce the winners for the William C. Powers, Jr. Graduate Fellowship soon.

The Powers Fellowship selects its fellows from students nominated by their departments, while the Dobie Paisano Fellowship requires each applicant to either be a native Texan who has spent three years in the state, or someone who has published significant work with a Texas subject.

Dobie Paisano Fellowship

The two winners of the Dobie Paisano Fellowship will stay at a ranch outside Austin for four or six months to focus on their work.

One winner of the Dobie Paisano Fellowship was Manuel Luis Martinez, a novelist from San Antonio. Martinez left Texas in 1989 after completing his undergraduate work at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Since then he has published several books and taught at Indiana University and Ohio State University.

“I’ll be using the Dobie Paisano fellowship to write my next novel which is about a family that lives in San Antonio, Texas,” Martinez said.

Martinez heard about the fellowship from friends and fellow writers Catherine Bowman and David Wright who are both past recipients of the fellowship.

Martinez said he is primarily a “cultural” writer, and he is excited for the opportunity to do his work on the historical 254-acre retreat that housed notable Austin writer and folklorist J. Frank Dobie.

“I’m always interested in the people that made up a place and what stories hide behind the story that is written,” Martinez said.

He will live at the ranch from September until December, and will leave the ranch to the fellowship’s second recipient, Stefan Merrill Block. Block will live at the ranch for six months starting next February.

Block has authored two novels and hopes to complete his draft for a third, set mostly in 19th century Texas.

“It’s a coming-of-age story about a young writer of fantastic tales, sort of an American H.G. Wells,” Block said.

He said this novel will be more expansive than his previously “borderline-autobiographical” work and more a product of his imagination.

He mostly looks forward to the time to work and the quiet that the ranch will provide.

“The biggest anxiety a fiction writer has is time,” Block said. “The fact there is six months devoted writing time and I don’t have to worry about paying bills or meeting anyone else’s schedule seems like the greatest gift you could have as a fiction writer.”

William C. Powers, Jr. Graduate Fellowship

The fellows for the William C. Powers, Jr. Graduate Fellowship have not been named, but the program received a $250,000 challenge grant at the end of last week. Kathleen Mabley, marketing manager for the Office of Graduate Studies, said the private donor will match dollar-for-dollar if the University raises $250,000 from other donors, for a total of an additional $500,000 to the program.

Mabley said the fellowship provides new or returning graduate students in all disciplines with tuition for spring and fall semesters, a medical stipend and a financial stipend to aid in their research.

There have been five recipients in the past in fields ranging from anthropology to mechanical engineering. It has not been decided how many will receive the fellowship, but the announcement should be expected soon.

The program started in 2009 with a $1 million donation from Dr. Steven Ungerleider, an alumnus and renowned sports psychologist in Oregon.

UT President William Powers Jr. said he is extremely appreciative of the donation that created the program that is his namesake.

“Stephen Ungerleider has been a very generous benefactor on a lot of issues around campus, but [the Graduate School] is one of his areas of concentration, and [these fellowships] just happen to be named after me,” Powers said.

Powers said he is confident that the University’s fundraising will be able to match the challenge grant, which means good things for the University as a whole.

“In our graduate programs, we’re competing with Princeton, Yale, University of Virginia and several others in a very competitive market,” Powers said. “We are somewhat behind those schools in the stipends that we can offer to graduate students, and we never want to pass up great graduate students.”

Powers said the previous recipients are doing fantastic work.

“The individuals that hold these scholarships are highly sought after and it’s great to have them on campus,” Powers said.