Lawrence Speck

Every time I walk to class along the East Mall area from the western part of campus, I cannot help but notice the way the buildings change from the orange tile roofs and tan brick facades of campus’ west side to the modern steel and glass-paneled buildings that populate campus’ eastern half. The sense of familiarity I feel around UT’s historic buildings immediately replaces the insecurity of being in an area that is unknown to me.

Don’t get me wrong, change is inevitable, and in the context of the East Mall, these new buildings are necessary to provide students with more space to study and socialize. However, the new buildings significantly alter campus’ architectural identity and fail to unify the eastern half of campus with its more active and iconic western end.

A unifying architectural style is important for a university because it contributes greatly to the overall aesthetics of its campus landscape and because it physically conveys the social and cultural unity of the campus community. To this end, the people making design decisions regarding campus’ future appearance should seek to strike a balance between the modern aesthetic of East Campus and the more traditional buildings in West Campus.

According to architecture professor Lawrence Speck, the construction of some of the new buildings along the East Mall, such as the Student Activity Center, has been planned since the mid-1990s. The addition of the SAC and other buildings has changed the distribution of students around the campus area — previously most student activity was centered around the Main Mall. This indirectly encourages students to experience different parts of our campus.

However, the newer buildings look out of place on the East Mall. For example, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport (BRB) building, located on the south side of the East Mall, awkwardly contrasts with the SAC; their close proximity makes it feel like the SAC engulfs the BRB. The presence of the Liberal Arts Building and the Gates Computer Science Complex, with their modern architectural styles, unbalances the area. 

Yet the transformation of East Campus is only just beginning, according to Speck. The construction of a medical school building in the east side of the campus, along with a few other major projects that have yet to be approved, will pull students further east. These projects, Speck says, are important, since they will house facilities that are necessary for student and faculty research. These new facilities will help to strengthen UT’s status as one of the top ranking universities in research in the United States.

However, a question still remains: Will these projects create a more unified architectural landscape on campus? East Campus will never be able to compete with West Campus’ signature architectural style. Nonetheless, individuals and authorities who are responsible for UT’s campus planning should put more emphasis on preserving the University’s identity in every new campus building, so that the spirit of our alma mater will be visibly present no matter where you are on campus.

Syairah is an economics sophomore from Rawang, Malaysia.

UT pays former deans who now serve as professors in the School of Social Work and the School of Architecture at higher rates than the schools’ current deans.

From data obtained through a public information request, The Daily Texan found the pay rates of four former deans and one department chair increased or remained the same after they resigned from their administrative position to teach and research full time. The Daily Texan also found that a vice president who stepped down from his position saw a smaller salary decrease than a dean who stepped down from his position two months later. Out of seven administrators The Daily Texan looked at, only one saw a decrease in monthly pay.

One of the former deans, social work professor Barbara White, earns $237,250 annually, the same as her salary before she stepped down as dean in August 2011. In 2011-2012, current social work dean Luis H. Zayas’ salary was $183,333 — $53,917 less than White’s, according to The Texas Tribune government employee database.

Another former dean, architecture professor Lawrence Speck, earns $948 a month more than current architecture dean Frederick Steiner.

Speck, who served as architecture dean from 1993 to 2001, had a $140,000 salary in 2001 and earned $138,000 as a professor the following year. As dean, Speck was paid for 12 months of work, but as a professor, his professor’s salary is paid for nine months of work from September to May. As dean in 2001, Speck earned $11,667 per month, and as a professor he earned $15,333 per month.

As a professor, UT now pays Speck $204,151, or $22,683 per month, for the nine-month academic year. In 2011-2012, current architecture dean Steiner earned $260,820, or $21,735 per month, for 12 months.

Steven Leslie said as UT executive vice president and provost, he oversees all deans and makes adjustments to a faculty member’s salary if they step down as a dean. The University pays professors on a nine-month academic schedule and deans on a 12-month administrative schedule, Leslie said.

“If an administrator has been in a higher position for many years, sometimes the circumstance is that the academic rate is too low,” Leslie said.

Marketplace-related issues that vary across fields drive faculty salaries, and the University makes salary decisions to recruit and retain faculty members, Leslie said.

Leslie was not at the University when Speck’s salary was reappointed after Speck stepped down as dean and said he is unaware of the specific measures taken into consideration when deciding his salary as a professor.

Juan Gonzalez’s salary went from $232,456 for 12 months to $204,164 for nine months when he stepped down from working as vice president for student affairs. During his last year in that position, UT also paid Gonzalez for working as a research fellow. UT now pays Gonzalez for working as a senior lecturer and a research fellow.

UT president William Powers Jr. oversees salary reappointments for vice presidents who step down.

Former School of Undergraduate Studies dean Paul Woodruff, who was paid $253,575 on an administrative schedule during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, also saw a decrease when he stepped down. Woodruff now serves as a professor and earns $164,172 on a nine-month academic schedule.

Gonzalez’s monthly pay increased to $22,685 from $19,371 while Woodruff’s monthly pay dropped to $18,241 from $21,131.

Public affairs professor Victoria Rodriguez and finance professor George Gau, saw higher monthly pay rates as professors than they received as deans. During Rodriguez’s last year as dean in 2009, she earned $219,300, or $18,275 a month. In this fiscal year, UT pays Rodriguez $165,000, or $18,333, per month for nine months. In 2008. Gau earned $332,500 as a dean, or $27,708 a month. UT now pays Gau $257,500, or $28,611 a month, for nine months.

Engineering professor Joseph Beaman stepped down as chair of the mechanical engineering department in January. Beaman’s salary for 2012-2013 is $224,129 — $11,000 more than his previous nine-month academic rate of $213,129 for 2011-2012. In 2011-2012, current department chair Jayathi Murthy was paid $120,556 — $103,573 less than Beaman.

UT spokesperson Tara Doolittle said salary changes for a department chair who steps down to become a professor are handled by the dean of the college or school.

Maria Arrellaga, spokesperson for the Cockrell School of Engineering, said Beaman’s salary increased because of a standard stipend given to faculty members after they serve two terms as a department chair. Chair terms are typically four years, and Beaman served for 11 years.

Professor of architecture Lawrence Speck speaks about the architectural significance of Battle Hall at Jessen Auditorium, Friday night. Following the lecture, faculty and students were invited to view original blue prints of Battle Hall and tour the building, celebrating its centennial.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

During the celebration of Battle Hall’s centennial anniversary, architecture professor Lawrence Speck said architecture has become too reliant on imagery, forgetting its roots in the visceral and corporal experience of a building.

Battle Hall, which was designed by Cass Gilbert for UT and finished in 1911, is one of the 150 favorite buildings in American architecture, according to the American Institute of Architects. As part of a celebration of the 100th anniversary of its creation, which was sponsored by the Texas Exes, the School of Architecture and University of Texas Libraries, Battle Hall opened its doors to students and faculty Friday evening.

Speck kicked the celebration off with a lecture where he weaved comments on the state of architecture together with stories of his own family’s experiences of Battle Hall.

“Good buildings make an incredible difference in the world, and I’m tired of looking at buildings as just a style,” Speck said. “Architecture is an experience that changes peoples lives, and Battle Hall is a building that has shaped us, UT and our community.”

After the lecture, interested guests took part in a guided tour of Battle Hall to see original blueprints of the building recently retrieved from New York City by the Texas Heritage Society, said Jim Nicar, director of campus relations for Texas Exes.

“We’ve been working on this for around two years now,” Nicar said. “Almost all 45 of these works had been in the New-York Historical Society, and this is the first time the archives have been housed in their own building.”

Alumni and others who had been impacted by the building also returned to Battle Hall on Friday evening to celebrate its centennial, including Eloise Ellis, who served as librarian at Battle Hall from 1982 to 1995.

“It was a wonderful place to be — a delightful job,” Ellis said. “My favorite thing was the stairwell. It was all stone, but there are places where the stone has worn away over the years from people walking on it. I passionately love the school. I live on through it.”

Students also visited, especially those interested in UT’s history and the field of architecture.

“Being students, we have a lot of interest in UT’s history and the second-oldest library on campus,” said architecture freshman Alex Dallas. “It helps you appreciate how much the University has grown.”

Others, like Speck, urged students and staff not to view Battle Hall as just a building but rather as an experience that changes lives.

“Today, we’ve reached a milestone for our University,” said Travis Willmann, communications officer for UT Libraries. “This building has had a history with presidents, the band and the architecture school over the past 100 years. This building has impacted so many students on campus, and when they think of UT, they will think of Battle Hall.” 

Printed on Monday, November 14, 2011 as: Battle Hall reaches 100th anniversary