Rice University

The West Pickle Research building may be demolished in a project leasing 109 acres of UT land to commercial development. The eight university departments within the building will have to be relocated regardless of the potential demolition.

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Eight University departments will be relocated when UT leases 109 acres of land on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus for commercial development. 

The land UT is planning to lease to Houston-based developer Hines includes the West Pickle Research Building, an office building and a small storage building, according to Amy Wanamaker, campus director of real estate.

The land is located at the corner of the North MoPac expressway and West Braker Lane and is part of the J.J. Pickle Research Campus tract, which is 475 acres in total. At the last Faculty Council meeting, President William Powers Jr said the University never had plans to use all of the research campus’ tract. 

Wanamaker said Hines will decide whether or not to demolish the complex, but the UT departments within the building will be relocated. Wanamaker said University officials have yet to determine if there are buildings available on the main research campus to utilize for the relocation.

Hines spokeswoman Kim Jagger said Hines has not made any decision regarding the research facility’s future on the property.

“Hines will work closely with UT to make that determination, but no decision has been made at this point in time,” Jagger said.

According to Jagger, Hines has worked on a variety of properties, including industrial parks, medical facilities, skyscrapers and residential communities. She said Hines worked to develop the athletic alumni center at the University of Houston and the Shepherd School of Music building at Rice University. 

Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the University accepted bids on the land from developers. The University is negotiating a contract with Hines that should be finalized within the next few months. 

Hegarty said the University has previously leased land bordering the research campus for commercial development. In 2003, the University leased 46 acres of land to Simon Properties, creating The Shops at Arbor Walk, a shopping center including a Home Depot, Marshalls and DSW Shoe Warehouse.

The Shops at Arbor Walk is located directly across the North MoPac Expressway from the Pickle Research Campus West project area. Hegarty said the University will have more involvement in the development of the 109 acres than they did with Simon Properties.

“In the arrangement, which we have gotten approval to negotiate with [Hines], we will work hand in hand with the developer,” Hegarty said. “I’ll distinguish that from across the street where, with Simon properties, we went to market, but we were just out in the market to lease that land to a developer to put up a commercial facility as they deem fit.”

Jagger said Hines has a general idea of what will be constructed on the land.

“Hines intends to develop a mixed-use master plan primarily consisting of office, multifamily, retail and hospitality uses in addition to significant preservation of natural open space,” Jagger said.

Hegarty said the University hopes to see residential apartments constructed on the land in order to address the needs of UT employees.

“We were happy to see the residential development because many of our researchers and people who work at Pickle have expressed an interest to be able to live close to where they work,” Hegarty said. “Yet, there are no neighborhoods around there — this will create its own neighborhood.”

On Nov. 1, 1982, the Longhorns powered a .590 hitting percentage as they defeated Rice University. On Sunday against Oklahoma, they came as close to that hitting percentage as any team since.

In its twelfth straight victory, the Longhorns swept the Sooners in Norman, Okla. committing a meager two hitting errors while hitting .571. Haley Eckerman and Bailey Webster each contributed 11 kills to earn the 18-3, 10-0 Longhorns another victory.

Hannah Allison had 36 assists and three kills, and Khat Bell tacked on eight kills, hitting .889.

The Sooners managed a slight victory in the first set at 20-18, but Eckerman quickly tied the score at 23-23. Aided by Webster, the Longhorns won the set.

An outstanding hitting percentage encompassed set two, as the Longhorns hit .905 and dominated the set with a blazing 15-3 run in the midst of it. Texas outscored the Sooners by a 25-10 margin, upping the match score to 2-0.

The third set was marked by consistent Texas leads, opened by a 7-0 run and marked by strong runs throughout, finalizing the sweep and stifling any hopes Oklahoma had of defeating its longtime rival.

The No.8 Longhorns continued their Big 12 reign and remain undefeated in conference play.

Rice University initiates partial smoking ban to comply with Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which grants Rice and UT-Austin alike. (File photo illustration)

Photo Credit: Shea Carley | Daily Texan Staff

The battle over tobacco use on university campuses continues to heat up as Texas schools take different policy approaches.

UT banned tobacco campus-wide earlier this year after the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas changed its grant application, announcing a provision prohibiting tobacco use in areas of campus where institute-funded cancer research takes place. The institute is a state-funded organization that works to fight cancer through research funding and other initiatives and has awarded UT more than $33 million for cancer research.

This past Saturday, Rice University also announced it was adopting a tobacco-free policy to comply with CPRIT guidelines. However, Rice only implemented a partial tobacco ban, leading some to question whether UT’s full ban was necessary. Rice’s partial ban consists of 13 designated areas on-campus where tobacco use is allowed.

Whichever route to compliance CPRIT-funded entities choose, Heidi McConnell, chief operating officer for CPRIT, said as long as they follow grant rules, their funding will not be affected.

Adrienne Howarth-Moore, UT director for human resource services, said the University thought a partial ban would not have been cost-feasible because of the logistics of where CPRIT-funded research happens at UT.

“There are a multitude of buildings on-campus that have CPRIT research going on, and those buildings can change from semester to semester as each semester comes around and new research initiatives are proposed,” she said.

“Administratively, from a cost-and-resource perspective, that would mean we would have to re-map and potentially move locations every semester.”

UT’s 431-acre campus received $20.4 million in CPRIT funding last year, while Rice’s 285-acre campus received $10.8 million, according to CPRIT and U.S. News & World Report.

In an interview with the Rice Thresher, Rice’s university campus newspaper, Kevin Kirby, vice president for administration at Rice, said a campus-wide tobacco ban would not have been appropriate at Rice due to other feasibility concerns.

“For us, a complete ban was not practical or enforceable and would lead to unintended consequences like people moving to nearby neighborhoods or sidewalks around campus,” Kirby said.

Howarth-Moore said she is not sure how the possible effectiveness of only a partial ban at Rice could affect the policy at UT, but she believes higher education is going toward a tobacco-free direction. She said the University worked on several initiatives to make UT tobacco-free prior to the new CPRIT regulation and a national tobacco-free university initiative is being introduced by the U.S. government later this month.

Since the beginning of the tobacco-ban at UT last spring, the administration has mainly been focused on communicating the new policy to the UT community, as most violations have been due to lack of awareness. With the placement of signs around campus over the summer, however, Howarth-Moore said UT will now begin to evaluate the effectiveness of the new policy.

“We’re really planning to do an assessment this semester, as it’s the first with the policy and signage in place,” she said.

Howarth-Moore said plans are still in place to completely ban tobacco on UT’s campus this February. There are currently designated areas throughout UT’s campus where tobacco use is allowed in order to make the transition to a tobacco-free campus easier.

According to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, 562 colleges have enacted campus-wide tobacco bans.

Printed on Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 as: Rice passes partial ban on tobacco 

“I feel sorry for some schools that will have to scramble to find a place. We won’t. I trust DeLoss [Dodds], and I trust Bill [Powers]. I can’t sit around and worry about things I can’t control. I know where we’re going to be this weekend.”
— Texas Head Football Coach Mack Brown, on the rapidly changing college football conference landscape and the possibility of Texas joining another conference, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“Schools have reached out to us. But we’re not doing anything proactively.”
— Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott during Friday night’s Oregon v. LSU game, on the possibility of more Big 12 schools joining the Pac 12.

“Simon says touch your ear. Simon says jump up and down. Now run for president. ... Next time you go to the polls, ask yourself, ‘Is your candidate smarter than an Aggie?’”
— An announcer for the Rice University Marching Owl Band at Saturday’s football game against Rice, on Gov. Rick Perry’s candidacy for president.

“[Perry’s] rhetoric gives pause to people who want to see someone in power that has a certain amount of reserve to them. When you’re president, you can’t all of a sudden take back that you attacked Vladimir Putin. Electability’s a big factor with bundlers.”
— An anonymous Republican fundraiser, when asked by Politico whom he predicts will draw the most financial support from GOP elites during the Republican primary.

“Al Gore, from my perspective at that particular point in time, was the most conservative of the Democrats. ...This was well before I had a deep understanding about his [stance] on global warming as well.”
— Perry, on his support for Al Gore’s 1988 presidential campaign and past life as a Democrat. 

Census data released last week shows dramatic growth in Hispanic and Asian populations in Texas, but state trends do not necessarily reflect the demographics of UT students.

According to the 2010 Census, 37.6 percent — about 9.5 million — of Texans have Hispanic or Latino origin, while only 19.4 percent — nearly 7,500 — of UT undergraduate students are Hispanic.

“When the data came out for racial and ethnic change last week, it showed dramatic diversification of the Texas population,” said Steve Murdock, former census director and Rice University sociology professor. “Enrollment levels [for minorities] are not where they should be. Non-Anglo populations have fewer resources and as a result they are less likely to go to college. It’s one of the major challenges for Texas and one of the most important things for us to do.”

Jacqueline Angel, a public affairs and sociology professor, said the UT Hispanic population has not grown as fast as the state because of high high-school dropout rates, the cost of higher education and socioeconomic status.

“Hispanic enrollments in higher education may not be projected to increase proportionally to growth [in Texas],” Angel said. “It’s going to be important to address the problem of the lack of Hispanic individuals getting baccalaureate and post-graduate degrees. We need to make sure we are mirroring the rest of the state.”

Brandon Hunter, co-director of UT’s Latino Leadership Council, said the University could help increase the Hispanic student population by recruiting more aggressively, providing bilingual programs for parents and making tuition more affordable.

“I think they’re pretty evident of the University’s not-so-great job of increasing diversity,” Hunter said. “You see this with the rolling back of the top-10 percent rule and the little attempt the University has done to keep retention up among Latinos. I think it’s been a general failure but also a lack of prioritization of diversity.”

Angel said there are ways to increase the number of minority students such as adding additional minority faculty.
“When you have faculty members who understand your background, it really shows students how education pays off,” she said. “We need to work very hard at this in light of the staggering trends that we’re seeing.”

Murdock said legislators could also help diversification by maintaining TEXAS Grants and need-based financial aid in the 2012-13 biennium budget.

“The thing we can do right now in light of all these budget cuts is not to cut the TEXAS Grants program but in fact to look at it and put it at the level it was proposed to be in the early 2000s,” he said.

Unlike the Hispanic student population, the Asian undergraduate student population of UT — 17.9 percent including international students — surpasses the census estimates of Asian Americans making up 3.8 percent of the Texas population, or approximately 965,000 people. Madeline Hsu, director of the Center for Asian American Studies said Asian immigration into the U.S. since 1865 has included many middle class families with parents who already have college degrees.

“There is a tendency for families who have college degrees to continue getting an education,” Hsu said.

She said by 2014, Asian-Americans are projected to be the second-largest minority population in Texas, with a larger population than African-Americans.

Deputy Director of Admissions Augustine Garza said the disparity exists and partially results from the top-8 percent rule — legislation passed last session allowing UT to limit the number of automatically admitted high school graduates from the previous top-10 percent.

“We’re going to continue to talk to students who are the top of their class,” Garza said. “The population we target in our recruiting does not necessarily mirror the population of the state of Texas.”

Hsu said if the top-8 percent rule were eliminated, UT could have more minority groups on campus.

“Focusing on class rank is a vary narrow kind of system,” she said. “In general, the University would benefit by having a broader array [of enrollment]. It is an imperfect mechanism to accomplish diversity.”

UT’s student radio station, KVRX, simultaneously broadcasted an Internet feed of a California freeform community radio station Friday afternoon to draw attention to the disappearance of student and community radio stations.

Fifteen college and community stations throughout the country broadcasted the feed to show solidarity with KUSF, a San Francisco community radio station that was sold to the media corporation Public Radio Capital without its DJs and listeners knowledge.

Because of the acquisition, the community radio station was converted to an online-only platform and will have to cut paid staff positions.

“I do not think that it’s going to happen at UT, but it’s a really bad trend, and I would hate to see student radio in America become a memory,” said Jim Ellinger, longtime Austin community media activist.

Ellinger began his relationship with Austin student and community radio when he formed the Student Radio Task Force in 1986. The task force led to creation of 91.7 FM, the station shared by both KOOP Austin community radio and KVRX UT student radio.

Ellinger said Public Radio Capital is the single biggest threat to campus radio because the corporation bought KUSF and, among others, KTRU, Rice University’s student radio station. Rice sold the station in August 2010 to the University of Houston system to operate as a nonprofit classical station.

“They don’t value the stations,” he said. “They don’t even tell the students. The president and regents of Rice University sell their campus station for $10 million, and they don’t have the decency to even let the students know.”
For Jessica Allen, art history sophomore and program director of KVRX, the consequences are more pressing.

“We’re banding together in solidarity because we want to stay alive,” Allen said.

Allen said the station suffered budget cuts last year and faces mounting problems with funding. Other than University funding, KVRX relies on donations from listeners to stay on the air. Allen said despite having to meet higher goals, the station’s pledge drive is more successful than in years previous because of a dedicated staff.

“KVRX is not taking our position for granted. Since we saw KTRU go down, we’ve all been afraid about the future of community and student radio,” Allen said.

Joe Mathlete, sophomore at Rice University, is a DJ for KTRU, which now operates as an online-only stream.
“I love the station,” Mathlete said. “It’s the only place to find interesting and outsider music on the radio in Houston. When I heard the news that it was going down and turning into an NPR station basically, it hit me hard. The format is very eclectic and exposes people to music that surprises them.”

Mathlete said the display of solidarity is important at this point in time in radio homogenization.

“KTRU makes you open up your ears. If KTRU leaves the airwaves, there’s nothing left,” Mathlete said.

Fellow students, we bring good news. Our honor has been restored, our dignity preserved, our horns turned right side up.

But first, we must offer our condolences to our peers to the East. We’re sorry Rice University, it’s one thing to beat you in a football game in your own city, it’s quite another to sit 48 places ahead of you in the world-wide rankings for best universities.

What’s that? You haven’t heard of the QS rankings? This year’s rankings are the seventh installment from Quacquarelli Symonds, a career advice company, and join the plethora of annual university rankings that already crowd the market.

What’s more, this year’s rankings place UT as the 67th best university in the world. Sixty seven! That’s ahead of schools such as Dartmouth, Emory and Washington University, St. Louis. The QS rankings are especially significant in that they measure how UT stacks up with foreign universities. So much for Wisconsin and UCLA; if we’re really looking to compare ourselves to our “peer institutions,” we should study the University of Sheffield in England, a.k.a. No. 66. Or maybe we could understand exactly how we were able to leapfrog the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Take that, you kiwis.

However, there is a major disparity between UT’s rank on the QS table and our placement on other traditional college rankings, such as those issued by US News and World Report, which ranked UT as No. 45 on its annual list of U.S. universities. In contrast, UT’s No. 67 ranking on QS table makes it the 26th best U.S. school according to that scale.

The primary reason for that discrepancy is the drastically different formulas employed by the respective ranking entities. While the two ranking systems share some variables, such as faculty-to-student ratio, they differ greatly in their areas of emphasis. The QS rankings put considerable weight on academic and employer reputation, going as far as surveying top international employers about the quality of graduates. In contrast, US News uses a system that leans heavily on statistics including standardized test scores, class rank and endowment. However, there is also a disparity in the weight given to statistics that many would view as either irrelevant or of minor significance, such as a university’s alumni giving rate and number of volumes in the school’s library.

Perhaps if the QS rankings and their US News counterpart were the only kids on the block then this would be a debate worth having. This year Forbes Magazine, Princeton Review, Washington Monthly, Kiplinger and a host of others released their own rankings, each using its own distinct formula.

The abundance of ranking methods illustrates a clear reality: There is no correct or ideal formula for ranking colleges. Any attempt to devise a universal system cannot help but be arbitrary. Inevitably, formulas will be weighted in such a way that certain colleges benefit to the detriment of others.

In the meantime, rankings do have a very immediate effect on colleges across the country. A 2009 study by University of Michigan researchers Michael Bastedo and Nicholas Bowman found that a university’s placement on the US News rankings had a significant impact on a school’s applicants and admissions the following year.

Our own President William Powers Jr. underscored this point in a meeting with the editorial board, saying “When you’re recruiting undergrads, graduate students or faculty, they make a difference.”

As a University we are held hostage by our nation’s obsession with an inaccurate measure of quality in higher education. The only way we can disempower college rankings is to refuse to give them credence. Dismissing such rankings, even when they flatter us, is the only way to negate their harmful influence.

That means we must also set aside the indulgent school pride that some derive from college rankings. There are many areas in which Rice surpasses UT, and vice versa. Trying to compare and weigh those respective fields is impossible. Likewise, attempting to encompass massive universities into a single number is absurd.
Besides, it’s football season, meaning there’s only one college ranking this fall that really matters.