Drought conditions aside, Texas faces a potential water crisis because of the increase in urban populations, according to a lecture the Humanities Institute presented Tuesday.
As Texas looks at the problem of water going forward, Andrew Sansom, director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University, said the state has to address the fact that its population will double in the next 50 years.
Sansom said this raises questions of where the increased population will get water.
“[Texas] has already given permission for more water to be withdrawn from most of our rivers than are in it today,” Sansom said.
Although Sansom painted a dim picture of the future of Texas’ water supply, he cited El Paso as an example of innovative water collection.
“In El Paso, they are putting immense amounts of energy into desalinating brackish water, which is closer to the customers and cheaper to desalinate than gulf water,” Sansom said.
Katherine Lieberknecht, community and regional planning lecturer for the UT School of Architecture, cited a chart from the 2012 State Water Plan predicting the amount of urban water use will surpass the agricultural use of water in 2060. Lieberknecht said this statistic helped her better understand the relationship between supply and quality of water in cities.
Lieberknect said, despite water-saving methods Austin currently employs, such as recycling wastewater and collecting rainwater for irrigation, the City needs to work on limiting its water consumption.
“The U.N. estimates that humans should have 13 gallons a day,” Lieberknecht said. “The average use of water around the world is 40 gallons per day. Austin’s conservation goal is to get us down to 140 gallons per day.”
Efforts to conserve water at the University included reducing the use of fountains, changing the sprinkler systems from manual to digital and continuing to look at other methods of landscaping.
Jim Walker, director of the office of sustainability, discussed how the University plans to limit its water consumption.
“One [way] is our natural resource conservation plan that lays out 40 percent water reduction of total use from our high in 2009 and, by 2020, reduce[s] of half from non-potable sources,” Walker said.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court issued a ruling on Fisher v. University of Texas. In a 7-1 decision, the court is requiring the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reexamine its previous ruling on UT's admissions process. UT President William Powers Jr. said the ruling encouraged the University, and others say the ruling is a victory for supporters of affirmative action.
Here are five quotes you have to see from the justices:
1. "Located in Austin, Texas, one the most renowned campus of the Texas state university system, the University is one of the leading institutions of higher education in the Nation. Admissions is prized and competitive." — Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion.
2. "Once the University has established that its goal of diversity is consistent with strict scrutiny, however, there must still be a further judicial determination that the admissions process meets strict scrutiny in its implementation. The University must prove that the means chosen by the University to attain diversity are narrowly tailored to that goal." — Kennedy.
3. "Unfortunately for the University, the educational benefits flowing from student body diversity — assuming they exist — hardly qualify as a compelling state interest." — Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote a concurring opinion with the majority.
4. "The petitioner in this case did not ask us to overrule Grutter's holding that a "compelling interest" in the educational benefits of diversity can justify racial preferences in university admissions...I therefore join the Court's opinion in full." — Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote a concurring opinion with the majority.
5. "Petitioner urges that Texas Top Ten Percent Law and race-blind holistic review of each application achieve significant diversity, so the University must be content with those alternatives. I have said before and reiterate here that only an ostrich could regard the supposedly neutral alternatives as race unconscious." — Justice Ruth Ginsburg, who wrote the dissenting opinion on the case.
Editor's note: The following is a live blog of a conference in Dallas focusing on research in Universities. For the full story, click here.
4:30 p.m. - UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa pledged to bring the ten breakthrough solutions to sustain and improve research at public universities in front of state and federal officials Thursday.
The daylong Universities Research Conference addressed university productivity, the role of the private sector in university research, strategic investments in education and pathways to diversity in science fields.
Cigarroa, who sits on the Committee on Research Universities, said the committee will work on developing ways to implement the ten breakthrough solutions. It will reconvene in October.
Public research universities want the state and federal governments to see research as an advantage, not an expenditure, Cigarroa said.
3:55 p.m. - In the last panel, experts said in order to improve diversity in the STEM fields, K-12 schools needed to increase interest in the subjects at an early age.
The panelists said higher education institutions needed to get involved with the local communities and school districts, a recommendation outlined in the report “Research Universities and The Future of America.”
Denis Trauth, the president of Texas State University, moderated the panel. She said while Hispanics made up 16 percent of America’s population in 2009, Hispanics made up only seven percent of the STEM bachelor degrees awarded.
“The future of Texas really relies on bringing women and underrepresented groups into the STEM fields,” Trauth said.
Bonnie Dunbar, the director of the STEM Center at the University of Houston, said higher education institutions needed to get everyone involved in order to get students interested in STEM fields.
“You have to have all the stakeholders,” Dunbar said. “You have to have the school districts, the superintendents, the legislators. And you have to have the parents.”
Dunbar said counsellors and primary school teachers are not always students strongest allies. She said she has heard counselors advise against students going into a STEM field for the wrong reason, and teachers question the need for Algebra II.
Yolanda Flores Niemann, a senior vice provost at the University of North Texas, said when teachers and parents don’t believe in students, they don’t go to college and the achievement gap worsens.
“The kids didn’t see themselves as college students,” Niemann said. “The parents didn’t see them as college students. The teachers didn’t see them as college students.”
Marc Christensen, dean of the Lyle School of Engineering, said many children have misconceptions about what scientists do. He said he met a girl who didn’t want to be a scientist because she didn’t think they ever spoke with other people.
“If you’re at home, and you don’t have scientists around you that you can connect your children to, their perception is really impacted,” Christensen said.
3 p.m. - There are storm clouds on the horizon for graduate education the U.S., officials said Thursday in Dallas.
Debra Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, an organization that works to improve graduate education, outlined what she said were serious problems facing graduate schools today, including a decrease in U.S. enrollment, fewer international applications and radical funding instability.
Stewart said the ten breakthrough solutions outlined in the report, “Research Universities and the Future of America” address these problems and are a call to action.
“We are heading in the wrong direction in America if our objective is to build a competitive economy,” Stewart said.
A step in the right direction includes three steps, Stewart said: increasing completion rates, making career paths more transparent and enhance federal funding to enhance success.
2:30 p.m. - Research partnerships where the academic, government and private sectors work together fuel advancement in research, panelists said at a conference in Dallas.
State officials including Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, Wayne Roberts, the interim director of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and Laurie Rich, an advisor for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, all said collaboration between universities and the state have led to leaps and bounds in research, increasing opportunity and creating excitement in the field.
State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas and chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, spoke about the bill he authored in 2009 that allowed seven institutions to compete for funding to become a Tier One research universities. Branch said at the time, Texas only had three Tier One universities compared to New York’s seven and California’s nine.
“When you go to communities like UT-San Antonio, where these emerging research universities are, there is excitement, emotion and momentum that has been created by universities striving for Tier One status,” Branch said.
Roberts and his agency manage a $3 billion research fund that award millions for cancer research projects to Texas researchers every year. Researchers have swarmed to Texas to apply for CPRIT funds. There are approximately 135 CPRIT grants under moratorium because of a scandal last year that alleged the agency awarded grants without scientific review.
"There were mistakes made, but it wasn't the end of the world," Roberts said.
There are millions of dollars in moratorium for the UT System, which is causing trouble for researchers who need to buy materials and hire graduate assistants. Roberts said he expects all grants to be released soon.
Rich said partnerships between institutions and new company startups were crucial parts of research.
“Newly started companies have to have a relationship with an institute of higher education,” Rich said.
Since its creation in 2006, the Texas Emerging Technology Fund has issued more than $200 million to companies.
1 p.m. - Rich Templeton, president and CEO of Texas Instruments, urged state and federal policymakers to make investing in public research universities a priority to keep America’s best and brightest students at home Tuesday.
Templeton said there is a disinterest in research and development funding because the country has comfortably been the world leader the research and innovation for about half a century. However, Templeton said the country should not become comfortable in this position
He urged the U.S. Congress to adopt an immigration policy that would make it easier for foreign students to come to the U.S. to do research and also to give federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, more funding for research.
“This statement about heavy hangs the head that wears the crown, it was well meant,” Templeton said. “The U.S. has led in technology, innovation and the economy for a hundred years. That’s not an entitlement.”
12:10 p.m. - Both UT-Austin and Texas A&M University, Texas’s largest public universities, are heading towards privatization and outsourcing services in order to improve and streamline productivity, while saving costs.
Panelists at a discussion on improving productivity at higher education institutions referenced privatization and outsourcing as one solution among many.
Steve Rohleder, who chaired the Committee on Business Productivity, said his committee found $490 million worth of savings and new revenue streams this past year. Part of that $490 million would include privatizing food, housing and parking services. Texas A&M did this in February. A&M System officials said outsourcing these services will save the system $92 million.
Bill Hammond, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, said an increase in outcomes-based funding would increase productivity at the state's universities. A bill was filed this past legislative session to tie 25 percent of a university's funding to its graduation rates. The bill failed to pass, but Hammond says it would have helped productivity.
“This bill would focus [universities] on completion rates, which to me is the essence of productivity,” Hammond said. “If you look at the completion rates, the sad effect is that with a few exceptions, with UT-Austin being one of the exceptions, the performance is pitiful.”
In 2012, 30 percent of Texas university students graduated in four years. UT-Austin currently has the highest four-year graduation rate in the state at 52 percent.
Despite the bill’s failure, Hammond said outcome-based funding would hopefully be considered again in the legislature’s special session.
11 a.m. - Former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson said the ten breakthrough solutions are a great blueprint for making sure U.S. research universities remain the best research hubs worldwide. Hutchinson said Texas and the federal government need to make research a priority.
Hutchinson said collaboration between business, academic and community leaders is crucial to having a successful research environment. The senator also addressed state and federal funding for research, which has dwindled over the years.
"Today the state of Texas provides an average 29 percent of funding for state institutions," she said. "Pretty soon we're not going to be able to call them public anymore."
In the 2011-12 academic year, Texas provided $467.7 million, or 18.8 percent, for UT System research. The federal government provided $1.2 billion, or 51.6 percent. The UT System could lose up to $105 million for research under the across-the-board federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
10 a.m. - The Daily Texan is in Dallas today to report on the Research Universities Conference, a discussion on improving and sustaining research in the U.S. The conference is largely centered around a report called "Research Universities and the Future of America," which offers ten recommendations for improving research across the nation. The ten recommendations are outlined briefly below:
1. Federal Action: The report recommends the federal government adopt more stable, effective policies and funding for institutions.
2. State Action: Similar to the first point, the report recommends more action at the state level and more state appropriations.
3. Strengthening Partnerships with Business: The report recommends strengthening the relationships between universities and businesses.
4. Improving University Productivity: The report recommends universities find ways of increasing cost-effectiveness and productivity.
5. A Strategic Investment Plan: The report recommends the federal government develop a "strategic investment plan," that is designed to be adaptable and can respond to changing landscapes.
6. Full Federal Funding of Research: The report recommends the federal government and other sponsors cover the entire costs of projetcs they obtain from institutions.
7. Reducing Regulatory Burdens: The report recommends reducing, or even eliminating regulations that increase costs, reduce creative energy or slow down productivity.
8. Reforming Graduate Education: The report recommends improving graduate programs by addressing issues such as attrition rates, funding and other issues.
9. Stem Pathways and Diversity: The report recommends providing benefits to promote women and underrepresented miniorities in STEM fields.
10. Internal Students and Scholars: The report recommends the continued recrutiment of international students.
Lieutenant Gonzalo Gonzalez has been with UTPD for nearly 25 years.Despite retention of police officer rates has always been low, Gonzalez still plans on giving more time to the University for as long as he can.
When Lt. Gonzalo Gonzalez of UTPD was first employed by the University in 1981, he began as a dishwasher inside the Jester cafeteria. By the time he left the world of student dining, Gonzalez was a supervisor. His career as a police officer has played out in a similar manner.
Gonzalez, who said his life-long interest in law enforcement began when he was four years old, is approaching his 25th year with UTPD. Gonzalez said he has personal and professional ties to the University and the campus community that have solidified his affinity for university policing.
“I met my wife here and my oldest daughter graduated here ... I have a great job and I work for a great place,” Gonzalez said. “Some people want to retire from their jobs as soon as they can, not me. Not me.”
Gonzalez began as a guard at UTPD while enrolled as a student and later dropped out to attend the UT System Police Academy. He later earned a degree in criminal justice from Texas State University in San Marcos. He said his sense of loyalty, which he acquired from his father — an educator who taught in the same school district for 30 years — has kept him in the department and helped him climb the department’s ladder. Gonzalez is on his 12th year teaching at the police academy and said it is one of the best parts of his job.
“I started at the bottom, and I wanted to move up,” Gonzalez said. “I knew I wanted to make some changes, so I knew I needed to promote. God willing, I’ll promote again.”
Retention of police officers has long been an issue within the department. When asked why he has remained with the department for as long as he has, Gonzalez cited UTPD chief of police Robert Dahlstrom’s emphasis on service-oriented professionalism as a motivating force.
“That’s what I like about our department — it’s very service-oriented. Chief Dahlstrom is the third chief I’ve worked for, and I’m fixing to go into a new one,” Gonzalez said. “Of all the chiefs we’ve had, Chief Dahlstrom is the guy who constantly reminds us of that. We’re here for the students, to be professional and make connections. I just like going that extra mile.”
Dahlstrom said Gonzalez’s loyalty and commitment to the University make him invaluable to the department and his experience is a “tremendous help” in assuring the success of young officers.
“[Lt. Gonzalez] is always in a good mood, always doing what he can to help others either on campus or in the department,” Dahlstrom said. “Police work is all about helping people, and Lt. Gonzalez is all about helping people from his family, to UTPD officers to the campus and beyond.”
As Gonzalez approaches retirement, his sense of commitment to the University has only intensified. Gonzalez said he would like to extend his time at the University as long as he can.
“I can promote one more time, so I don’t plan on retiring in three years,” Gonzalez said. “I think I can give more [to the] University. If you figure ‘81 to now, I’m going on my 32nd year of employment with the University. My roots are set here.”
Thursday is the final day to register with the Be The Match marrow registry as a stem cell or bone marrow donor in the fourth annual drive.
Students from Texas State University and UT organized this year’s drive in an effort to increase potential donors. By Wednesday, recruitment was higher than in previous years. If the drive continues registering students at its current rate, it will reach its goal of 2,000 students registered, according to Iota Nu Delta president Raj Jana.
“This year’s drive has been incredible,” Jana said. “I know the rain put a little bit of a damper on it, but this has been a passion project of ours for a while.”
Texas State radiation therapy senior Leslie Amos said finding registrants from multiple ethnicities is important, because bone marrow donor matches are based on genetics, not blood type. Amos also said few donors actually donate marrow, because in most cases the doctors can extract stem cells from a blood sample to use for treatment.
“The more the donor looks like the patient, the more likely they’ll be a match,” Amos said. “Eighty-five percent of the time, a family member is not a match. If the patient is white or Caucasian, their odds of finding a match are one in 100,000. If they are any other ethnicity, it’s one in 800,000.”
If the drive reaches its goal of registering 2,000 potential donors, it will be the biggest drive the National Marrow Donor Program has had, Amos said. During its first day, the drive registered 653 potential donors, a large increase from previous years. In the first year, it was 52.
“It allows you to do your part to fight cancer,” Jana said. “It’s not just giving money, it’s something more than that. Because if you do become a match for somebody, which is extremely rare, you have the chance to directly influence that person’s family and them.”
Elementary education junior Andrea Riojas registered as a donor in part because friends and family members have fought cancer.
“I just feel a calling to help a child or an adult that needs bone marrow for any issues,” Riojas said. “I’m scared of needles, but I know that’s something I could get over if it was to help somebody.”
A&M Legislative Relations Ambassador Clayton Williford discusses the importance of state funding for higher education during Flagship Legislative Day at the Texas Capital building Tuesday.
Students from UT, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and the University of Houston united at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for higher education funding.
The University’s student-run Invest in Texas campaign hosted Flagship Legislative Day for students from the institutions to meet with key legislators and discuss the importance of state funding for higher education.
“At the beginning of summer, we were looking at how we could make Invest In Texas stronger,” Michael Morton, campaign co-director and Senate of College Councils president, said. “We talked about strategic partnerships with different universities to show the combined effort for higher education, and we wanted to get the flagships involved and show that student leaders across the state are very concerned about this.”
The university representatives were divided into five groups, including one student representative from each university. Throughout the day, each student met with representatives from six legislative offices and discussed how his university would impact the state of Texas.
UT’s finance junior Nancy Bonds brought up the point that for every $1 the state invests in the University, $18 is generated in the Texas economy.
“We are in a bad budget situation in this legislative session and that makes it a little more desirable to put money back into higher education,” Morton said.
Zachary Haber, a student representative for Texas Tech University, spoke to representatives about the large number of students going to out-of-state schools, raising an issue for the Texas economy.
“Ultimately, the points we brought up today were valid and need to be discussed at the Capitol,” Haber said. “The representatives were very responsive and overall, we had very positive feedback from all of them.”
Allison Sibley, the Texas State University student body vice president, said even though she was exhausted after walking around the Capitol all day, she was grateful the representatives were willing to take time out of their legislative work and listen to the students.
“As far as Texas State goes, it was very beneficial,” Sibley said. “It was an honor that UT asked us to join them in the Flagship Day, and I do think it is great to be a cohesive body for higher education.”
Published on February 13, 2013 as "Texas universities unite for education funding".
A connection has been made between the man charged with making a false email bomb threat against Texas A&M University on Oct. 19 and the woman charged with making three false email bomb threats against Texas State University on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19.
The Texas A&M University Police Department arrested Dereon Tayronne Kelly, 22, of Bryan in connection with a bomb threat that was emailed to Texas A&M’s Computing Information Services Department on Oct. 19, forcing the evacuation of the entire university. Allan Baron, Texas A&M police spokesperson, said Kelly is an acquaintance of Brittany Nicole Henderson, 19, who was arrested Oct. 23 by Bryan police for making one email bomb threat against Texas State on Oct. 18 that forced the evacuation of three campus buildings and two email bomb threats the next day. University operations were not affected by the second and third bomb threats.
Texas A&M and Texas State police said no bombs were found in either case. The targeted area of Texas State, its admissions building, was searched Oct. 18, and the entire Texas A&M campus was searched Oct. 19.
UT received a false phone-in bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of the campus Sept. 14. Bob Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety and Security, said UT officials do not believe the threat is related to the bomb threats made against Texas A&M and Texas State.
According to a press release issued by Texas A&M police Monday, Texas A&M Police Department investigators, the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies were able to link Kelly to the threat through his cellphone, and Henderson remains a person of interest in that case.
Daniel Benitez, captain of operations for the Texas State University Police Department, said Henderson’s arrest came after Texas State police were able to link the threat to her email account.
Kelly was arrested at the Brazos County Jail, where he was being held for unrelated charges. He has been charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Henderson was charged with three counts of making a terroristic threat and three counts of making a false alarm, a misdemeanor.
Kelly and Henderson remain in the Brazos County Jail. Kelly is being held on $150,000 bond each and Henderson on $300,000 bond.
Printed on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 as: Link found in bomb threats
A connection has been made between the man charged with making a false email bomb threat against Texas A&M University on Oct. 19 and the woman charged with making three false email bomb threats against Texas State University on Oct. 18 and 19.
The Texas A&M University Police Department has arrested Dereon Tayronne Kelly, 22, of Bryan in connection with a bomb threat that was emailed to Texas A&M’s Computing Information Services Department on Oct. 19, forcing the evacuation of the entire university. Allan Baron, Texas A&M police spokesperson, said Kelly is an acquaintance of Brittany Nicole Henderson, 19, who was arrested Oct. 23 by Bryan police for making one email bomb threat against Texas State on Oct. 18, that forced the evacuation of three campus buildings, and two email bomb threats the next day.
Texas A&M and Texas State police said no bombs were found in either case. The targeted area of Texas State, its admissions building, was searched on Oct. 18 and the entire Texas A&M campus was searched on Oct. 19. No bombs were found in either case.
UT received a false phone-in bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of our entire campus on Sept. 14.
Bob Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety and Security, said UT officials do not believe the threat is related to the bomb threats made against Texas A&M and Texas State.
According to a press release issued by Texas A&M police Monday, investigators with the Texas A&M Police Department, the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies were able to link Kelly to the threat through his cellular telephone, and Henderson remains a person of interest in that case.
Daniel Benitez, captain of operations for the Texas State University Police Department, said Henderson’s arrest came after Texas State police were able to link the threat to her email account.
Kelly was arrested at the Brazos County jail where he was being held for unrelated charges. He has been charged with making a terroristic threat, a third degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Henderson was charged with three charges of making a terroristic threat, a third degree felony, and three charges of making a false alarm, a misdemeanor.
Kelly and Henderson remain in the Brazos County Jail. Henderson is being held on $150,000 bond and Henderson on $300,000 bond.
Former student and Bryan resident Brittany Nicole Henderson was arrested Tuesday after being traced to the emails sent providing false information about the bomb threat at Texas State University.
Henderson, a 19 year old withdrawn Texas State student, is currently being detained at Brazos County Jail and was charged with a Class A misdemeanor, a third degree felony and making a terroristic threat.
The bogus threat linked to Henderson caused the evacuation of three buildings on campus and cited an ongoing investigation at Texas State University. Police at Texas A&M University, which received a similar bomb threat one day after Texas State did, have yet to determine whether or the two incidents were related.
Bryan police arrested former Texas State University student Brittany Nicole Henderson, 19, Tuesday in connection with an Oct. 18 false email bomb threat made against Texas State University’s admissions building.
Henderson has also been charged with making two other email threats against Texas State University, but Texas State University police declined to comment on those threats. Texas State University police said no connection has been made between the threats made against Texas State University and other bomb threats recently made against universities across the country. Those include an Oct. 19 false email bomb threat against Texas A&M University and a Sept. 14 false phone bomb threat against UT. Both prompted campus-wide evacuations and forced the cancellation of classes for those days.
No arrest has been made at this time in regard to the Sept. 14 bomb threat at UT.
Henderson now faces three charges of making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony, and three charges of making a false alarm, a misdemeanor, Benitez said.
Texas State University police said their university evacuated its admissions building and two dorm complexes on Oct. 18 after receiving an email bomb threat . The email was sent to the university email account of a Houston-based admissions officer. No bomb was found and classes were not interrupted that day.
Benitez said Henderson enrolled at Texas State University and withdrew in late September for unknown reasons. He said she has no prior criminal record and is currently in police custody.