Richard Flores

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

The University has been invited to take part in a new summer exchange program with Peking University in Beijing.

Ray Han, professor and assistant dean of engineering at PKU, visited UT for the first time in hopes of establishing an official association with the University for the program, which is called Globex. The program is a three-week study abroad program at PKU in July, and it includes primarily engineering classes along with some classes about Chinese economy and society.

In order to form the connection between UT and PKU, Han is meeting with Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, and Gerald Speitel, associate dean for academic affairs in the Cockrell School of Engineering. If they reach an agreement to make Globex officially affiliated with UT, it will be one of 40 universities worldwide set to participate in the program.

“In a very globalized world there’s a lot of, you know, movement of people all over the world to look for jobs,” Han said. “[People are not] confined to national boundaries. I think [Flores] will be supportive.”

China and the U.S. have the two largest economies in the world, and that is an important reason for establishing a partnership with UT, Han said.

“I think it’s good for [American and Chinese students] to be meeting and talking and exchanging,” Han said. “We are just doing little baby steps to get students to start talking to each other.”

Since Han arrived at UT on Monday, he has met with students, engineering faculty and China-focused faculty in disciplines such as history and government, along with Flores and Speitel, said Susan Mays, Asian American studies lecturer. Mays will also be teaching a course on China’s economy during the Globex program in July. 

“The academic quality is high [at PKU],” Mays said. “It’s a good opportunity for American students to study abroad but to actually get to study with Chinese students.”

Flores said gaining different perspectives of the world through direct experiences is a core value of UT study abroad programs. Studying in China and engaging with the country is critical because of the many business partnerships we share, Flores said.

“There’s a lot of trade; there’s a lot of business; there’s a lot of work that we do with China,” Flores said. “It’s important that we understand [each other].”

The newly established Department of Mexican American and Latina/o studies received a $500,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to establish an undergraduate fellowship.

The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program seeks to assist prospective graduate students pursue academic research in fields other than law, medicine or other professional graduate programs.

“The grant will train new cohorts of first-generation students to become the academic and intellectual leaders of the nation,” said Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, chair of the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. “That we were entrusted to be the custodians of this stellar program is both an honor and a privilege.” 

Rising sophomores from underrepresented minorities with a GPA of 3.0 or better may apply to become a fellow by submitting three letters of reference, two essays and an application. 

Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, said the fellowship attempts to diversify the “pipeline” of applicants to faculty level positions.

“When we look at hiring faculty, a lot of times there just aren’t faculty in particular disciplines that come from diverse backgrounds,” Flores said.

Flores said universities do not often have diverse candidates when hiring new faculty members.

“It’s not that participants may not want to hire faculty who are diverse; it’s the fact that there are not many people out there,” Flores said. “Programs like this help increase the number of graduate students who come from diverse backgrounds and those students eventually go on to faculty positions.”

Darcy Rendón, fourth-year Latin American history Ph.D. student at UT, began as a Mellon Fellow as an undergraduate at Smith College. As a fellow, Rendón was able to conduct archival research in Mexico. 

“This program allowed me to say, ‘Hey, I could do that if I wanted to,’” Rendón said. 

Rendón said the fellowship taught her how to be a scholar, apply for grants and adapt to the academic culture.

“Once a Mellon — always a Mellon,” Rendón said. “Without Mellon Mays, I wouldn’t be here in graduate school today. They teach you all the inner workings of academia when you’re an undergrad so that, when you go to graduate school, you hit the ground running,”

A new master’s degree program at the University of Texas will offer business students insight into the human side of their profession.

Human Dimensions of Organizations, a new Master of Arts degree offered through UT’s College of Liberal Arts is a four-semester degree plan which draws on Liberal Arts disciplines to teach students in business and nonprofits how to better understand the people inside and outside their organizations.

“There is growing recognition that the disciplines of liberal arts provide a great springboard to enter the business community. However, most business education programs do not provide much background in this area,” Arthur Markman, UT professor of psychology and marketing and founding director of Human Dimensions of Organizations, said. “Our program is the first of its kind to craft a rigorous curriculum for business that is rooted in the disciplines of liberal arts.”

The degree program will receive its first group of students in the fall of 2013. Classes will be offered twice a month on Friday evenings and Saturdays at the UT campus.

According to the program’s website, most graduate students will be employed full time with most having five to 10 years of professional experience.

“The program is geared toward people who are looking to move up to significant management positions within their companies as well as people who serve as consultants and have to be able to develop a quick and accurate understanding of an organization,” Markman said.

The degree will be the first in the United States to offer this type of specialized training, a fact Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, said will benefit the University.

“We will be offering a very unique, cutting-edge degree,” Flores said. “It will provide an opportunity for the college, and the University as well, to be seen as a viable pathway to managing positions and executive positions.”

Global business leaders at companies and organizations including Procter & Gamble, ING Direct and scholars in the liberal arts field provided assistance in creating the degree program.

“What Professor Markman has done is taken what I think are key liberal arts curriculum — sociology, psychology, anthropology and English — and is working to take those courses and have them taught with a focus toward understanding people in complex organizations and structures in the business sector,” Flores said.

Marketing senior Alma Colmenero hopes to work for KPMG, a company specializing in audit, tax and advisory services, after graduating. She said she believes having a Master Dimensions of Organization degree could provide her with a competitive advantage when applying for bigger jobs.

“We live in a very diverse country,” she said. “The more a person can diversify him or herself the better chances of them to get a good job, especially in the business world.”

UT alumnus and lifelong philanthropist Bernard Rapoport passed away Thursday after decades of service to the University.

Rapoport graduated from the University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1939. He founded the American Income Life Insurance Company in 1951 and served as chairman of the UT Board of Regents from 1993 to 1997. The Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice in the School of Law, the Endowment for International and Multidisciplinary Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and the Rapoport Service Scholars program are among his many contributions to the University, said Richard Flores, associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts.

“Mr. Rapoport was very influential in a number of ways,” Flores said. “His passion for liberal arts and for students is what led him to contribute in so many ways on campus.”

Flores said Rapoport’s interests outside of the University and his investment in community service made him an especially distinguished figure in the community.

“He was broadly interested in issues on human rights and social justice,” Flores said. “Someone with that kind of passion will be sorely missed.”

The Rapoport Service Scholars program is a $30,000 scholarship that requires its students to complete summer community service projects and take specific courses dealing with social justice issues. Plan II senior and current Rapoport Service Scholar Alyssa Davis said the scholarship has changed the course of her education.

“I’ve never had the privilege of meeting [Rapoport], but he’s changed my life in so many different ways,” Davis said. “He made it possible for me to continue at UT, and the classes I took because of the scholarship, particularly ones dealing with social justice, literally changed the direction of my life.”

Davis said she hopes to live up to the standards Rapoport set for his students when he created the scholarship program.

“I wish there was some way I could have told him thank you in person, but I’d like to think that my life path will be a thank you of some sort,” David said. “He was an incredible man who did so much for his community.”

Rapoport demonstrated the true spirit of what it means to be a Texas alumnus, said Leslie Cedar, CEO and executive director of Texas Exes.

“Mr. Rapoport gave endless amounts of time and dedication to this great University,” Cedar said. “He embodied the best of the Texas Exes as a selfless servant, loyal friend and a fierce University advocate to the very end.”

Printed on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 as: Rapoport's UT legacy lives beyond his death

[Corrected Dec. 5: Fixed attribution]

A former UT dean was fired from his position of president at the University of Oregon after expressing clashing viewpoints with the state’s Board of Higher Education.

Richard Lariviere was fired Tuesday after members of Oregon’s State Board of Higher Education unanimously voted him out of his position. The board decided to remove Lariviere after he gave pay raises to more than 1,300 university employees even after an order from Gov. John Kitzhaber to limit salary increases. According to the Associated Press, he lobbied against the board’s goal to make the University separate from the rest of the University of Oregon System and worked against the opinions of board members by doing so.

Lariviere resigned as dean of UT’s College of Liberal Arts in 2006 to become provost and executive vice chancellor at the University of Kansas. He became president of the University of Oregon in 2009.

“I have never understood the argument that a strong University of Oregon was bad for the university system,” Lariviere told the Associated Press.

During his time at UT, Lariviere worked to create a positive atmosphere and improve problems associated with issues like diversity and academic excellence, said associate liberal arts dean Richard Flores.

“I had a very positive experience working with Richard,” Flores said. “He was a very strong leader because he had a very strong vision about how a college or a university should be running.”

During his time as dean, Lariviere would hold weekly team meetings to discuss issues and ideas on how to solve them, Flores said.

“He did a lot for the college,” he said. “It was clear that he would get input from us, but he would make the decision he thought was best for the college.”

Printed on Friday, December 2, 2011 as: Clash over salary leads to former UT dean's firing

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recently decided to eliminate and consolidate degree programs based on low graduation rates, but not all statistics correctly reflected the amount of students graduating from the programs.

The board’s original report of low-producing majors listed zero students graduating with bachelor’s degrees from the Mexican American Ethnic Studies program during the past five years.

Richard Flores, senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the program graduated at least 40 students within the past two years. He said the board’s erroneous results were caused by a mistake in the individual course code number given to each degree. He said UT administrative officials presented the correct code to the board, and the Mexican American Ethnic Studies major is no longer required to consolidate.

Members of the board directed UT in September to eliminate or consolidate bachelor’s degrees producing fewer than 25 graduates over a five-year period. The Department of Classics’ Greek major faces elimination by the board, and six other majors were approved to consolidate into new departmental programs. Flores said similar degrees will consolidate into other programs suggested by department heads. The classics department’s Latin major and five other liberal arts majors were granted a two-year extension to prove their worth to the board.

Flores said the board’s decisions are misleading because students who earn more than one degree do not count toward the final graduate numbers.

“It’s not only a coordinating board problem, it’s a UT problem,” he said. “We don’t have a way to count double majors. I was on the phone with them all day and they understand this.”

Flores said UT administration plans to develop a system that counts students with more than one degree as graduates of both programs, which will help the majors prove their reason for existence. He spoke at a liberal arts forum Thursday evening about the board’s decisions.

Some students, such as ancient history and classical civilizations senior Konrad Sliwowski, said they feel the reasoning for degree elimination is senseless.

“These decisions are coming from the coordinating board because of the funding [the state gives] us,” Sliwowski said. “They decide these kind of things and in actuality the rest of the school’s funding comes from tuition and grants, which don’t have a voice in what happens.”

Sliwowski said more emphasis should be put on the importance of Latin and Greek language courses to other majors.

Stephen White, classics department chair, said during the forum that members of his department are looking into consolidating the five degrees that utilize Latin and Greek courses to keep these programs alive, but have not reached a decision.

“It would be like one major with a concentration, a focus, a track,” White said.

Activist group The Students Speak dedicated their full attention and energy to UT administrators and state legislators in a rally on Wednesday to protest budget cuts. About 100 students participated in the rally, which started at the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. and ended at the Capitol, where President William Powers Jr. testified before the Senate Finance Committee. Throughout downtown, they chanted “They say cut back, we say, ‘fight back,’” and wore red T-shirts with “No Budget Cuts” on the back. Their posters boasted slogans such as “Budget Cuts have Faces” and “Save Our Staff.” The College of Liberal Arts will lose $3.5 million in funding over the next three years, said Richard Flores, the college’s senior associate dean for academic affairs. The first $1 million cut will impact Liberal Arts centers, including those for Women’s and Gender studies, Asian American Studies and Mexican American Studies, according to a recommendation plan released by the Academic Planning and Advisory Committee. The committee includes faculty from nine departments, and its proposals are part of the college’s considerations in cuts. “We are being realistic, and we understand that cuts will have to be made in some fashion, but we are waiting to see what final decisions will be made by the dean of liberal arts,” said Luis Guevara, program coordinator for the Center for Mexican American Studies. Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl is meeting with different departments and centers before finalizing the cuts in a few weeks, Flores said. He said it will be hard to make cuts that the Legislature is asking the University to make without hurting the students. Flores said the centers are not seeing the worst impact of the budget shortfall. Many departments already lost funding last semester, he said. The Students Speak coalition, which organized the rally, started last semester in response to the cuts the advisory committee proposed to the centers. Austin resident Reuben Hayslett participated in the rally because he said he knows the importance of ethnic and gender studies. He said he attended Georgia Southern University for writing and linguistics, but the major no longer exists because of slashed funding. “I think the centers are important because they offer a chance for more critical thinking,” Hayslett said. Religious studies senior Caitlin Eaves said if it wasn’t for the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, she would not be doing her honors thesis. “I came here and I needed guidance,” Eaves said. “I needed to know what queer women in history have done. I needed to be able to locate myself in history.” Eaves said the center helped her by providing quality courses and excellent faculty members who proved to be great mentors. The Students Speak is organizing another rally on March 12. Eaves said the group wanted to hold a Saturday rally so parents and other working adults could participate.

The group was the first of the College Tuition and Budget Advisory Councils to submit a proposal to its college, and a meeting Friday indicated that the students and administrators have similar goals. The Senate of College Councils created such a committee for each college in anticipation of drastic budget cuts across the University this year. The goal of the councils is to create a more transparent budget conversation between students and administrators in the face of about $66 million in additional legislative cuts to the University.

The liberal arts budget council leads the pack, and the College of Natural Sciences is close behind after its first meeting last week. Others, including the College of Fine Arts, the College of Education and the School of Social Work budget committees, are still in their beginning stages. The councils will give students a “seat at the table” while the college budgets are under discussion, said Senate spokesman Michael Morton.

“They will serve as the student voice to deans as to what the students’ opinions are about the budget and where funds should be allocated and where cuts could be,” he said.

Morton said the Senate will have an option on the website where all the forums will be broadcast live for students. Students who are unable to attend the forums can tweet questions to the Senate Twitter account, and their questions will be addressed during the forum.

Richard Flores, College of Liberal Arts associate dean for academic affairs, said he was pleased with their first meeting with the committee and is looking forward to working with them in the future.

“I thought it was a very productive meeting and a good exchange on their behalf and ours,” he said. “They had a lot of questions about the budget recommendations, and we were able to explain the consultation and budget-viewing process.”

Flores said Dean Randy Diehl’s office will consider verbal and written input from the committee throughout the duration of the decision-making process.

The committee’s recommendations included college-wide, biweekly updates about the budget; more input from students, faculty and staff members prior to college budget decisions; and immediate council member notification when a final decision regarding the college’s budget is being made.

Carl Thorne-Thomsen, chair of the liberal arts budget council, said he was impressed with how responsive the deans were to their recommendations.

“We really stuck with what we believed in, and they finally agreed and said they are on board to take our recommendations seriously,” he said.

Thorne-Thomsen said the committee will be as transparent with students as they expect the deans to be, so they will keep students up-to-date on meeting decisions and outcomes, as well as any important correspondence with the deans.

“Literally, as we send stuff to the dean we will post it on our Twitter and Facebook page,” he said. “In the next two weeks we will host a couple open meetings and a forum where everybody can come and give input.”

Although the committee will not be scheduling regular meetings with the deans, they will keep in contact with them until Diehl goes into the final stages of making his decision in mid-March.

The College of Natural Sciences’ first meeting with department chairs last week was an opportunity for committee members to gain background knowledge of how the budget meetings ran, said Houdah Abualtin, cell and molecular biology senior and committee chair.

“We first need to be educated about how the process works and how the money is divided up between different programs,” she said. “The next big thing is to reach out to the students in the college and teach them.”

Fewer than two weeks after the College of Liberal Arts recommended cuts to centers and institutions, more than 100 UT students, faculty and staff attended the second meeting of a new organization Monday night called The Students Speak. Students from majors that use the centers' resources and organizations such as Student Government, Liberal Arts Council and student activist groups ¡ella pelea! and Stop The Cuts offered their perspectives as to how to affect the decision before it becomes final. Those who spoke said petitioning, working with administrators, protesting and grassroots outreach may all be part of the group’s efforts. Specialized centers fund research, scholarships and programs that expand opportunities for students and faculty in related departments. The College of Liberal Arts helps fund these centers under its overall budget and many centers also have access to federal funding. “It’s a matter of recognizing grassroots organizing as powerful,” said Latin American studies senior Carina Souflee, one of the group’s organizers. “Just because it’s not institutionalized doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. These are our majors, and if they go away, it’s a problem not just for us but for the people who come after us.” The recommended cuts to the centers, which total $1 million, will predominantly impact the Centers for African American, Mexican American, Latin American and Middle Eastern studies, which account for three-fourths of the reductions. The Center for European Studies would gain 11 percent in funding, totaling $10,276. The Academic Planning and Advisory Committee must recommend cuts for a total of $3.5 million. They used a series of metrics, including enrollment in related courses, number of research grants and national reputation to determine how to allocate cuts, said associate dean for academic affairs Richard Flores. Students at the meeting said Flores and other administrators had not replied to e-mail requests for additional information and explanation. Flores told the Liberal Arts Council on Nov. 16 that if it were not for increasing state-mandated budget cuts, the college would not have to consider such cuts to the centers. He said departments were cut 20-33 percent of their soft money budgets in the spring, and centers were the next area for consideration. Students at the Students Speak meeting noted that it was important to consider the center cuts in the national context of university budget cuts. “This is probably the sharpest edge in the crisis because they’re gutting some of these programs, but there is a hollowing-out of programs throughout the University,” said assistant English professor Snehal Shingavi. “It’s pretty awful what’s happening, and it’s happening in California; it’s happening all over Texas.” SG University-wide representative Matt Portillo urged the students to not only target the University with organizing and action but to take their passion before the state legislature and lobby on behalf of increased University funding. Other students said they do not feel student governance organizations such as SG and Liberal Arts Council are willing to adequately fight on behalf of the issue and spoke in favor of direct action such as protests. The group will be signing onto a protest hosted by ¡ella pelea! on Dec. 1.

Ethnic studies centers and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies may fall under the swinging axe of University budget cuts, and members of a new student organization called The Students Speak said they will do whatever it takes to fight back. The College of Liberal Arts announced last week that under a recommendation from the Academic Planning and Advisory Council, 15 centers and institutes stand to lose a combined $1 million, with the centers for African and African American, Mexican American and Middle Eastern studies taking the largest hit. In response, members of Chicano advocacy group MEChA organized the first Students Speak meeting Tuesday night with about 50 students from different area studies majors, as well as Student Government representatives and other interested students. They said they hope that through protests, education and working with student leaders and the administration, they can reduce cuts they say could irreparably harm the education of students who use the centers for classes, research, programs and organizational support. “I started school at Brown, and I transferred here because of the Center for Mexican American Studies,” said Diana Gomez, a Mexican American studies senior. “We’ve agreed that this organization needs to be a student initiative because we’re in these courses and these centers, and we’ll fight to keep them in place.” The $1 million dollars is part of $3.5 million that the dean’s advisory council must identify for cuts to fill an unexpected shortfall in money received from tuition. That money was used to fill other budgetary holes in response to cuts ordered by legislative leaders. Other plans include cutting faculty by offering early retirement packages and leaving vacant positions unfilled. The College of Liberal Arts will not be out of deficit until the 2014-15 school year, according to projections from the advisory council. Richard Flores, the senior associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, attended the Liberal Arts Council meeting Tuesday night and gave a presentation to explain the metrics used to determine cuts for each center, including how they use the funding they have and how many students major in programs related to the centers. Although the original recommendations included no student input, Flores said College of Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl and other administrators hope to meet with students, faculty and staff from each center to get input on the possible effects of the cuts. “We’re pulled in two directions. One is we want to hear and consult broadly, but on the other hand, center directors need to start making decisions,” Flores said. The Students Speak members left their meeting to attend the Liberal Arts Council meeting, and they said it was the first time they had access to the information Flores presented. There was some confusion because the council members said their meetings are not a forum open to all Liberal Arts students. “We were left out of the process, and it’s not until tonight that we managed to finagle our way into this [council] meeting and see some of the metrics they used to make these cuts,” said Mexican American studies senior Bernardino Villasenor. “In slashing these programs, they’re slashing our cultures and identities, too.” Liberal Arts Council President Carl Thorne-Thomsen said he wants to work with SG to plan open forums so students can get involved in future conversations about Liberal Arts cuts. In addition, the Senate of College Councils expects to launch the College Tuition and Budget Advisory Council for liberal arts before the semester ends, providing a direct link between the administration and students in the college.