Roderick Hart

Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Although University administrators have made multiple pledges to provide transitional funding and a $1 million endowment for Texas Student Media, no official documentation of any of these promises has reached the organization’s governing Board, according to TSM Board President Mary Dunn.

TSM, the organization that manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — has been under severe financial constraints for the last several years. In January 2014, administrators moved TSM from its former home in the Division of Student Affairs to the Moody College of Communication without consulting Board members. Two months later, Moody dean Roderick Hart told Board members the college would work to develop a viable business plan by the fall of 2017 that would place TSM on the path to financial stability. At an open Board meeting, Hart said he would ask President William Powers Jr. to provide three years of transitional funding to keep TSM afloat. 

Powers sent more than $100,000 to help TSM recover from the brink of bankruptcy last spring and told The Daily Texan the University has committed up to $250,000 annually to TSM for the next three years. In an interview this week, Dunn said TSM’s governing Board has not been presented any official documentation that this money will be available.

“When you’re dealing with volunteers who meet once a month, making these huge multimillion dollar decisions in a public forum, it’s just imperative that you have the details really concrete,” Dunn said.

Powers said he hopes funds will be made available as soon as possible to the TSM Board, which is tasked with passing this year’s budget in March.

“The idea is to get [the money] as quickly as we can to TSM, where TSM can use it,” Powers said. “I will do everything I can to make sure that happens.”

In an interview Monday, Hart told The Daily Texan he earmarked a $1 million endowment for TSM from the $50 million Moody Foundation donation in October 2013 — three months before TSM actually became part of his college.

 “At that time, I wasn’t responsible for Texas Student Media, so this was just something I did because of my belief in it,” Hart said. “At that point I wasn’t really involved in the day-to-day work of Texas Student Media.”

Dunn said when she requested information about the endowment, Moody College officials did not confirm any details.

 “A lot of times they were like ‘we’re not quite sure what you’re talking about,’” Dunn said. “I have been hunting down this rumor of a million dollar endowment for a year now because it was mentioned once in public meeting a year ago, and we never heard about it again.”

 Dunn said she is unsure if the Board would have direct access to either the endowment or the transitional funding.

 “We can’t pass a budget based on numbers we’re assuming are going to come in,” Dunn said. “We can only pass the budget based on concrete, in writing agreements with sources of certain funding.” 

In June, the Moody College appointed Gerald Johnson as TSM director to help navigate the new relationship between TSM and the Moody College. Johnson said the Board has not received an official timeline for the funding from Moody College.

 “Other than conversations with the Board, there hasn’t been anything official that explains it,” Johnson said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rosales and Partners

For Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, the sky bridge that will connect the Belo Center for New Media to the Jones Communication Center will serve both functional and symbolic purposes. 

The funding for the pedestrian bridge came as part of the Moody Foundation of Galveston’s $50 million donation to the college in October 2013, when the college became its namesake. Slated for completion by December 2015, the bridge will stretch across Dean Keeton Street, connecting the second floor of the Belo Center to the fourth floor of Communication Buildings A and B. Hart said the structure will serve as a gateway to the campus and as a visual connector for the college.

“The bridge has always been important to me,” Hart said. “My main concern was to kind of pull the College of Communication back together physically and visually.”

Before the Belo Center opened in November 2012, the college’s faculty shared cramped quarters in the two Jones Communication Center buildings, known as the CMA and CMB. Since the college expanded across Dean Keeton Street — creating a physical division — Hart said his goal has been to maintain the collegial bond between the college’s various departments.

“My concern was that we would lose that sense of connection with one another,” Hart said. “The departments have always gotten along really well.”

Of the $50 million donated by the Moody Foundation, $3 million is going toward construction of the sky bridge and other renovations.

The $3 million budget was a challenge for both Hart and bridge architect Miguel Rosales, who was selected by the Faculty Building Advisory Committee to design the structure.

“I frankly didn’t think we could get something this beautiful for that amount of money, so I’m delighted,” Hart said. “That’s the great value of having someone like Miguel, who can make something look quite elegant and grand yet not have it cost an excessive amount of money.”

Rosales, based in Boston, said the bridge is his first project located in Austin. A main feature of the bridge is its towering center columns, which will serve as the primary support for the walkway.

“I had to try to work within the budget, and I did my best to balance the engineering and aesthetic concerns with the cost,” Rosales said. “I think we achieved a good balance in designing something the school can afford, but, in the same way, something that’s going to be an exciting structure that the students will like to see and cross.”

In August, Hart announced that he will resign from his post in May 2015 after a decade as dean. Hart said securing funding for the sky bridge, along with the construction of the Belo Center, have been high points of his tenure as dean. Hart’s push for funding took nearly seven years to come to fruition. The sky bridge idea bloomed in 2007, when Hart secured funding for the Belo Center, and the Board of Regents approved the project.

“The bridge has always been something that’s been in the back of my head, and we would’ve built it if we had had an extra $3 million when we built Belo,” Hart said.

Severine Halls, senior project manager in UT System’s Office of Facilities Planning & Construction, said the original building plans incorporated the sky bridge.

“We completed design for the Belo Center and the KUT facility with the engineering necessary to ensure that if the dean was successful in securing funding, we knew exactly where the bridge would connect the two complexes of buildings as was his original intent,” Halls said.

It took several months for Hart to negotiate the Moody Foundation donation, beginning with a February 2013 conversation over dinner with foundation trustee Ross Moody. The college received the funds for the bridge, scholarships and renovations to the Jones Communication Center.

Completed in 1972, the Jones Communication Center is marked by the prominent cement grid design of CMA. Nearly 40 years later, the Belo Center architects aimed to construct a complementary structure, according to architecture professor Larry Speck.

“In the design of the new building, they did a good job of having some dialogue back with the old one but not feeling that they had to slavishly replicate something from before,” Speck said. “Dean Keeton [Street] is a big street, and it’s kind of a divider, but I think the bridge will be helpful in knitting the two buildings together both functionally and visually.”

Speck said the bridge might help alleviate both vehicular and pedestrian traffic at Dean Keeton Street and Guadalupe, as well as Dean Keeton Street and Whitis Avenue, two of the busiest intersections on campus.

“Hart would like to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people within those two separate complexes to interact with each other, and he’s smart to do that,” Speck said.

Bridge construction will result in detours for both drivers and pedestrians on Dean Keeton Street. For street closures, Christopher Johnson, development assistance center manager for the City of Austin, said the city requires project engineers to provide a detailed traffic control plan that is then reviewed by the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Obviously, they’d want to minimize the construction to either as few lanes or as short a time as possible,” Johnson said. “But for something like that, there’s no way around it. You cannot safely build something like this and still have a road functioning.”

With a semester left as dean and a year until the bridge is to be completed, Hart said he looks forward to using the bridge as a member of the faculty.

“I will love walking across it and looking at it, even though I won’t be the dean at that time,” Hart said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of Q-and-A’s with the deans of the University’s 18 schools and colleges. Roderick Hart has served as the dean of the College of Communication, recently rechristened the Moody College of Communication following a large donation from the Moody Foundation of Galveston, since 2005.

 

The Daily Texan: It was recently announced that you’ll be stepping down from the deanship at the end of the academic year. Could you tell us why?

 

Roderick Hart: I’ve been in the job 10 years, and I was an accidental dean. I agreed to do it for one year as an interim, and we had a national search, and we brought 10 people to campus and not all of them turned out to be what the University wanted, and so they put some polite pressure on me. So I eventually decided to do it because I thought, I’d been here for, at that time, 25 years, and I thought, well, I’ve been here. I know the culture, I know the student body, I know the state. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to be able to find someone to help us build a building. And we did. So it’s been a good 10 years, but I got into this business because I love teaching and writing, and it’s what I want to do. So I still want to teach; I still want to write. And I’ve kind of done everything I can do. We’ve got the building. We’ve named the college. We’ve got the ... endowment. It’s now time for someone else.

 

DT: How do you think that the communication school prepares journalism students for the workforce?

 

Hart: We’ve got a good number of them out there, and a great many of them have been very successful, so I guess I am pretty confident that we’ve done a good job, but one thing that we know is that the workforce is changing. So part of what the School of Journalism has done in the last couple years is to really revisit the curriculum — the journalism curriculum — and now they train people across platforms. We used to have magazines and newspapers and broadcast, and we still have some of that, but now pretty much any journalism student that graduates is going to have a range of skills that we didn’t have to do in the past, so I think they’re working hard to keep current, as you know, but the business keeps changing. The modalities change all the time, so we have to keep figuring out where things are going and try to get students there before that happens. But I think we’re still regarded as one of the very best programs in the country.

 

DT: How has the relationship between the Moody School and Texas Student Media (which oversees The Daily Texan) evolved over your tenure as dean?

 

Hart: I didn’t have to pay very much attention to it for the first eight-and-a-half years. Obviously very supportive ... A lot of our alums are products of Texas Student Media, and I would meet them at receptions, events across the country and they would always ask about [TSM], and in some ways, I wasn’t always up to date on what was happening ... I was approached by the Vice President for Student Affairs, and Charles Roeckle, assistant to the president, asked if I was willing to come to a meeting and would I be open to [taking it on]. The question was, “Can it be done, and could I get some help from the president during the transitional period?” So then I got to know a lot more about Texas Student Media than I ever had, particularly the financial procedures ... [If I had a time machine,] I would have started fundraising 40 years ago for Texas Student Media, because as time goes on and people become wealthier, they still talk about their days on the Texan or on the TV station, the radio station. They still talk about it even though they’re now 50, 60 years old, as they do about Plan II. But Plan II , they’ve been raising money all that time, and we have not ... Particularly in today’s media environment, you have to have multiple ways of advertising. The way it has been done in the past, it’s just not alone going to be enough, and that’s true of corporate journalism as well, so philanthropy has to be part of it. I think it should be.

 

DT: How will the health communications center collaborate with the med school?

 

Hart: I hope it will be an intimate connection. Our message is that AIDS in Africa is not going to be cured by medicine. It’s going to be cured by communication. Getting third world people to understand and embrace first world medicine, and that’s a cultural communication issue. You can’t get better unless you have the medication; you won’t take the medication unless you believe that it is culturally and intellectually acceptable...

 

DT: We heard a story on the radio the other day. It was talking about the changing environment of journalism employment and how it’s moving from a less stable environment to more freelance work. Do you have any advice for graduating students on how to adjust to this less secure employment environment?

 

Hart: All of that is true and not true at the same time. In all of human history, there have never been more job openings for people with professional communication skills. In all of human history. The difference is, in the past, most of the jobs would be headquartered in big buildings and big companies, like CBS or the Dallas Morning News or these large places that held large numbers of people. These days, however, it’s really important for people to understand that if they have a skill level, that there are more jobs than ever before in human history. It just means they have to think more creatively. So the question is really more of a finance question. Who will pay for the kind of information that journalists provide, which is tested, reliable and dependable evidence. And someone will pay. Figuring out how and when is the question. So I think there will always be jobs. I can’t imagine a field that has a greater upside ... It’s an exciting time, but it’s a little crazy too. Great time to be a student.

After a $10 million campaign, the Department of Advertising and Public Relations will become the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations. 

The school will be named after Stan Richards, the founder of the largest independently-owned advertising agency in the world, The Richards Group. According to Roderick Hart, outgoing dean of the Moody College of Communication, advertising professor Patricia Stout will be the new director of the school. 

Isabella Cunningham, advertising professor and outgoing chair of the department, said Richards has always supported the advertising and public relations department at UT. 

“He wanted [UT] to continue to be number one in advertising when it came to faculty and resources,” Cunningham said. “When we set out to raise funds five years ago, there wasn’t really a trend in advertising agencies giving to higher education. Stan Richards has changed all that. … Richards has hired some of the best students in advertising, as well as making monetary contributions.”

Advertising professor John Murphy said the department has worked with Richards for more than 30 years. 

“The school for advertising and public relations at UT finally adopting Mr. Richards’ name is just a public display of the relationship that has existed for many years,” Murphy said. “Being able to associate with Richards openly is a huge feather in our cap as a department. We, here at UT, share in Mr. Richards’ idea of striving for perfection in our work.”

The department has been working toward this transition for several years, Hart said.

“We are flattered and honored to share names with Stan Richards; no one is more deserving,” Hart said. “Stan is an advertising legend. We are very thankful for everything he has done for the department and will continue to do for the school.”

According to Hart, schools tend to have more regard and are better at graduate job placement than departments are. 

“The future of the school for advertising and public relations is in the youthful and energetic hands of the exceptional new faculty and the new director of the school, Patricia Stout,” Hart said.

The Moody College will hold an event celebrating the change on Sept. 23 in the Belo Center for New Media.

Correction: This story inaccurately reported The Richards Group is the largest advertising agency in the world. It is, in fact, the world's largest independently-owned advertising agency.

Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, announced Monday that he will resign from his post in May 2015. Hart has served as dean for 10 years and will return to teach at the university after a year of writing and researching.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

After a decade of administrative service, Roderick Hart, Moody College of Communication dean, announced that he will resign from his post in May 2015, in an email sent to faculty Monday.

Hart said after he completes his tenure as dean, he would most likely spend a year researching and writing before returning to teach at the University.

“I think it’s time for me personally,” Hart said. “I have not been able to teach as much [as dean], and I love teaching.”

Stephen Reese, associate dean of academic affairs at Moody, said serving 10 years in an administrative position is a lot for any dean.

“We’re thankful to have gotten him for more than one [year],” Reese said. “It’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of difficult decisions to make. He’s probably been our most successful dean to date.”

Hart has worked at the University since 1979, after serving as a professor at Purdue University for nine years.

During Hart’s tenure as dean, The Moody Foundation donated $50 million to the college in 2013, placing its name on the college. In Hart’s email that announced his resignation, he listed the opening of the Belo Center for New Media in 2012 and the college launching UT3D, the nation’s first comprehensive 3-D production program, as other highlights during his deanship.

After Texas Student Media moved from the Division of Student Affairs to the communication college in the spring, Hart worked to keep The Daily Texan on its five-day-a-week print schedule by requesting transitional funding from President William Powers Jr. to prevent TSM bankruptcy.

Hart said when he took the position of dean of the College of Communication in 2005, the college was lacking in discretionary income to create new programs and construct a new building to provide enough space for the large amount of communication students.

“I set my mind on trying to raise money for a new building, which we were able to do, and to refurbish the Jesse Jones Complex,” Hart said. “It’s just really satisfying that we were able to get all that work done.”

In a joint statement, Powers and Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, said Hart will go down in the college’s history as a pivotal leader and as a favorite with students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“[Hart] has been not only a steady hand in a time of rapidly changing media environments and economic challenge but an active leader who has transformed the college for the better,” Powers and Fenves said.

Hart said he plans to spend his last year as dean teaching a communication and government course, “Voices of Citizenship,” in the fall and continuing to raise money for new programs, such as the Texas Program in Sports and Media and the new Center for Health Communication.

“They’ve gotten started, but they still need more help in raising the sails,” Hart said.

Hart also said he intends to take up men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes on an offer made 10 years ago, when Barnes personally invited Hart to play point guard in a Longhorns basketball game. Barnes issued the invitation after Hart announced that the only thing that would make him happier than being dean was playing for the University’s basketball team.

“In spite of your lack of speed and agility, we believe you still possess qualities that may be an asset to us,” Barnes wrote to Hart in 2005. “Our players have a lot of pride in what they do, and we are confident that your presence on the team will increase that spirit and energy.”

In an interview with the Texan, Fenves said the University will start looking for the Moody college’s new dean in the next month. According to Fenves, the University will establish a search committee of faculty, staff, alumni, students and members of the UT community to conduct the search.

“It’s an exciting time in communications and [for] so many successful programs,” Fenves said. “I know we’ll be able to identify a great leader for the school.”

This story has been updated since its original publication.

Roderick Hart, Dean of the Moody College of Communications, speaks at the Texas Student Media board meeting.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

At its annual budget meeting Tuesday, the Texas Student Media board voted to keep The Daily Texan on its five-day a week print schedule after Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communications, promised to ask President William Powers Jr. for transitional funding to prevent TSM bankruptcy.

“Moody will have a viable business plan in place by fall of 2017 that will put TSM on road for success,” Hart said in the meeting. “I am highly optimistic about our ability to turn around the TSM budget proposal.”

TSM oversees five properties — The Daily Texan, Texas Travesty, KVRX, TSTV and the Cactus Yearbook — and has faced advertising revenue challenges in keeping with national trends over the last several years. In January, The Daily Texan reported that TSM properties would be moved from under the domain of the office of student affairs and into Moody College. Many questions about the implications of the move remain unanswered.

In his original proposal, Frank Serpas, interim director of TSM, introduced a plan that would cut the Texan’s print schedule to once a week, which he said was the only viable solution if the board wanted to avoid draining TSM reserves.

At Friday’s meeting, Serpas said the budget for this year originally showed a loss of $115,000, but actually produced a loss of over $147,000.

In the meeting, Hart also promised TSM would have access to Moody College’s six person development team and said the team would give TSM a “prominent but not dominant” role in the development portfolio.

“I think there are alums out there who are concerned and want to help, but development takes a long time, unfortunately,” Hart told the Texan after the meeting. “The idea is to build a structure — but the president has to help us in the interim because development takes time.”

In an interview in January, Powers said he was open to considering short-term solutions like the transitional funding.

“There have been all kinds of suggestions for the revenue gap — even to the point of some bridge help from the University,” Powers said. “I think [TSM properties] are very important, both in terms of learning and community building on campus. I’m a big supporter.”

Powers said he wanted to be cautious of the line between assistance and control.

“[The Daily Texan] really does need to be independent, and the board does need to be independent of the administration,” Powers said. “On the other hand, we’re here to help.”

Jeff Cohen, TSM board member and Houston Chronicle executive editor, suggested the board read a report issued by the Friends of the Daily Texan, a group of alumni who formally organized last year to help support the organization. The media committee’s report, “The Texan: From Crisis to Recovery in 12 Months,” outlines 66 ideas to increase TSM revenue.

The report’s suggestions range from focusing on local advertisers on Guadalupe Street to printing free bridal announcements and holding weekly contests.

Dave Player, TSM board president and third-year law student, said Hart's announcement came as a major source of relief.

"That's welcome news," Player said. "This apocalyptic threat we've been juggling is much more imaginary than it was yesterday."

TSM board members also discussed the properties’ digital future and outreach efforts.

Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president for student affairs, said one complication in TSM’s efforts is that it is unclear who is charge of the website. Hammat expressed concerns that administrative efforts to redesign the website, or include advertisers in digital messaging, would be taken as content infringement by TSM student managers.

“[We need to] look at the process, and do better at clarifying what is process and what is management,” Hammat said. “You have to take a closer look at how content is defined, and how it is interpreted.”

Hammat also addressed issues of student turnover, which she said are not helpful for long-term plans.

“Even if students commit [to a plan], their successors don’t always commit,” Hammat said.

This article has been updated since its original posting. Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of the story misquoted Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication. Hart said The Daily Texan will be a "prominent but not dominant" part of a fundraising portfolio.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

R.B. Brenner, deputy director of the journalism program at Stanford University, will be the new director of the School of Journalism in the Moody College of Communication starting in August, according to Moody college dean Roderick Hart. 

In May 2013, the journalism school’s current director Glenn Frankel announced he would retire to work as an author full-time. Hart said Brenner’s official paperwork was signed Wednesday. “We had a search committee that had a bunch of people on it,” Hart said. “When they said he was an applicant, I was very pleased. When he came to campus he just kind of wowed everybody.”

Brenner, who worked in a number of editing positions at The Washington Post, said one of the biggest challenges facing modern journalism is the rapid development of new technology. 

“The more technology speeds us forward, the more you also have big issues between some of the real traditional values of journalism,” Brenner said. “You’ve seen that in the last few years, in the coverage of the Newtown shooting and the Boston Marathon bombings, with this constant competition between speed, accuracy and credibility. News outlets have to ask themselves, ‘How important is it to be first if it ends up damaging your reputation?’”

Brenner said he has ideas for potential changes at the journalism school in mind, but he is not ready to share them until he has a chance to familiarize himself with the school.

“I think it’s premature,” Brenner said. “I am a journalist and reporter at my core. The way I think about anything is, ‘Would it be smart for a reporter?’ I think it would be bad for me, from several miles away, to make claims on best practices for the school.” 

Frankel, who also worked at The Washington Post and Stanford before joining UT, said Brenner’s academic and professional experience will be valuable when he becomes the director. 

“I think that people felt strongly that we needed someone with a real solid grounding in professional journalism because of the huge changes transforming news at every level,” Frankel said. “He’s just a very warm, communicative person who listens carefully, who respects students, who really loves students and then is collaborative.”

In January, The Daily Texan reported Texas Student Media, the umbrella organization that manages a number of student-produced media properties, including Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX and the Texan, would be moving under the domain of the Moody college. According to Hart, this move has not yet officially taken place. 

Brenner said he is unsure of what role Texas Student Media will play in the journalism school moving forward. 

“What’s really important for student media, first and foremost, is for it to be independent, that students are running student media,” Brenner said. “I don’t think the days of anything being print alone exist anymore. It’s essential for [publications] to understand the specific needs and wants of their audience.”

Additional reporting by Nicole Cobler.

Clarification: This story has been updated from its original version. Brenner was an editor at The Washington Post.

Almost a full week after news broke that Texas Student Media, commonly known as TSM, would move under the domain of the Moody College of Communication, it remains unclear who — if anybody — ultimately made that decision.

In an interview with the Texan on Friday, President William Powers Jr. said he did not make the final decision on the move, although he considered the absorption of TSM properties — which include the Texan, Texas Student Television, Cactus Yearbook, KVRX 91.7 and Texas Travesty — a plausible solution for TSM’s financial woes.

Gage Paine, the vice president for student affairs, and Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, denied making the final decision to move the properties earlier in the week, though they acknowledged they played roles in the process.

Last week, the Texan reported that TSM properties, including The Daily Texan, would be moved into the domain of Moody college from their current home in the Division of Student Affairs. Powers said he was comfortable with the move, though it wasn’t originally his idea.

“I don’t have a dog in the hunt of how the issue is [resolved], of how progress is made,” Powers said. “Gage had an idea it would help to have, from the University’s point of view, some structural change — journalism, rather than Student Affairs. My view was that [the move] was a plausible solution — if it works, it’s fine with me.”

Powers said the extent of his personal involvement was helping to facilitate discussion with Hart.

“I don’t think he went out looking for it, but [Hart] was a good soldier, and he said ‘Yes, if that would help, I’ll do this,’” Powers said. “I did a little bit of legwork for [Paine] — that was my role.”

In an interview Thursday, Paine said she recommended to Powers that TSM properties should be moved, but that she did not make the final decision.

“[In a regular meeting with the president], I said I think it’s in the best interest of TSM to move — that would be my recommendation at this point,” Paine said. “Ultimately, the administrative home [of TSM properties] is a presidential decision, in consultation with all of the administrative units. It’s his decision; it wasn’t a vote.”

Paine could not be reached for additional comment or clarification after the Texan interviewed Powers on Friday afternoon.

Powers also said he was surprised TSM board members were not alerted to, or included more fully in, the decision-making process.

“I would have anticipated they would’ve been part of the process,” Powers said. “I don’t know all the legal ins and outs of it, but I would have anticipated it would’ve taken some action by the board.”

Dave Player, the president of the TSM board, said he was not surprised the board was not consulted beyond a visit by Paine and Hart at a meeting in September. 

“I can understand why the board was an afterthought because we’ve been completely cut out of the decision-making processes,” Player said. “The way the administration has applied and interpreted the trust in past years has made the board toothless — we’ve been turned into a powerless entity.”

The student Declaration of Trust is a document created in 1971, when TSM — then called Texas Student Publications — was trying to ensure editorial independence, while locked in a legal battle with the UT System Board of Regents. The Trust made the organization an independent entity, although its assets and certain staff positions were still to be controlled by the regents.

Powers said he had many questions he had assumed someone would answer before the move was made.

“I mentioned, we’ve got the trust — I have no idea,” Powers said. “Does the trust need to be changed? Do the regents need to get involved in changing the Trust? I would have anticipated that all of that would have been worked out in advance.”

In a letter announcing the decision to the Division of Student Affairs written last week, Paine said details about the move would be settled in the coming weeks.

“We look forward to working with Dean Hart on a smooth, thoughtful and deliberate transition of leadership and TSM resources,” Paine wrote in her letter.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the original name of the entity that oversees The Daily Texan and other student media properties. The entity's former name is Texas Student Publications.

Making a deal with the devil

“I don’t have any policies to advance, but I do have a college to advance. I would go and talk to the devil himself, if necessary, to explain what a wonderful place we are to invest in.” — Roderick Hart, dean of the newly renamed Moody College of Communication, on his commitment to fundraising for the school.

Hall promises Powers’ head 

“[Hall] told Sexton that UT leadership was most likely going to change during the year, and maybe the timing would be better a year or two later. Specifically, he made the statement [that] Bill Powers wouldn’t be here at the end of the year.” — Tom Hicks, brother of UT System Regent Steven Hicks, in a letter made public Wednesday evening. Tom Hicks admitted that he, along with his brother and Wallace Hall, the embattled regent under investigation for possible impeachment, had called Jimmy Sexton, University of Alabama coach Nick Saban’s agent, to ask if he might be interested in replacing current head coach Mack Brown. 

Voting problems

“There is a misconception that because a student is only here for a certain amount of semesters, they shouldn’t participate in decisions being made about this area. I think students should pay more attention to local issues because even if the outcome won’t affect them, odds are it will affect future students who won’t have had the opportunity to cast a vote on the issue.” — Nathan Roberts, Hook the Vote agency assistant director, on low student voter turnout.

“My concern is for every 100 people who cast a provisional ballot, how many are going to come back and cure it? We don’t have 100 people who have cast a provisional ballot so it’s not a significant issue right now, but next year in the governor’s race, who knows what it’s going to look like when you have 10 times the people voting?” — Travis County Tax Assessor Bruce Elfant on the new difficulties posed by voter ID.

Recovering from sexual assault

“Healing from this trauma isn’t a straight line. It’s more like a mountain you’re climbing around. Sometimes you’ll end up at that same rough point in the mountain, months or even years later, and you’ll feel like you haven’t progressed — but you’re still higher than you were.” — Art history senior Kaila Scheeden on her experience of healing from sexual assault.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

Over a dinner at a loud, high-end seafood restaurant in chilly February, Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, found himself in a conversation he didn’t expect to have that night.

Hart was speaking to Moody Foundation trustee Ross Moody about the college’s goals. Naming the college after a donor was the “big enchilada,” Hart said, which prompted Moody to ask how much it would cost to name UT’s College of Communication after his foundation. Leaning back in his chair with a glass of scotch, Hart disclosed the figure the UT System Board of Regents had set for all colleges.

“$50 million.”

As the University repeatedly recounts to alumni and donors that decreased state support means monetary gifts are needed more than ever before, fundraising still remains a discrete process. Stories behind donations, such as the Moody Foundation’s gift, offer rare insight into the fundraising process, the steps deans take in securing donations and their recent increased involvement in development.

The Moody Foundation’s $50 million donation to the University will be celebrated Thursday in a formal ceremony — more than two weeks after Hart told an upper-division communication class about the donation, forcing UT to announce it sooner than it hoped. The donation will help fund several endowments and the construction of a sky bridge connecting the Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communications Building A. 

Even though the University has a central office dedicated to development and fundraising, individual University deans often play a crucial role in fundraising and raising money for their respective colleges — especially since fundraising has become a more essential element of the University’s budget. State support made up almost half of UT’s budget in 1984, while it makes up only 13 percent of UT’s $2.48 billion budget today. Meanwhile, gifts and endowments have gone up from 3 percent of UT’s budget in 1984 to 10 percent. 

“In the last couple of decades, I think fundraising at the public university domain has been elevated in importance quite significantly,” said former provost Steven Leslie, who oversaw the deans for more than six years before he stepped down from his position this fall.

Fundraising by deans occurs as they court donors, sometimes over an evening dinner and sometimes over a period of many months or even years. Hart called the dinner with the Moody Foundation a “stewardship” dinner — a thank-you for a prior $2 million gift and an effort to seek more support from the foundation.

Hart secured the Moody Foundation gift over a period of several months. After the February dinner, Hart had to seek approval from President William Powers Jr. to continue having official conversations with the foundation. The UT System Board of Regents also had to approve the agreement to attach the Moody name to the college, as the board has jurisdiction over the naming opportunities of buildings and colleges.

After Hart received approval to proceed, the Moody Foundation requested a proposal from him in May. He spent several weeks in the summer crafting a 50-page proposal that included a breakdown of what the college would do with the $50 million, letters of recommendation for the college from prominent donors and a photo of a sky bridge across Dean Keeton Street with the name Moody emblazoned across it. The Moody Foundation approved the request earlier this year.

Hart estimates he has spent a majority of his time in the past 10 years as dean on fundraising, because the college needed additional funds and raising money became the part of the job he enjoyed he most.

“In many ways, fundraising is helping people turn their beliefs into actions,” Hart said. “They say they love the University. They say they love the college. Here is a way of taking action in behalf of those beliefs that you’ve got.”

UT handles fundraising from multiple angles. While a call center works toward collecting small donations from the average alumni, a central development office works with the individual colleges to secure larger grants and donations throughout campus. Colleges have their own development teams that work with the dean. Many colleges have an associate dean who helps deans fundraise, especially when they want to expand a college’s programs or facilities. 

Former UT presidents William Cunningham and Larry Faulkner highlighted the importance of fundraising responsibilities and collaboration between the University’s president and deans. 

“Clearly, in my opinion, the deans and the presidents are the ones who raise the money,” Cunningham said. “If you didn’t enjoy fundraising, you wouldn’t enjoy the job.” 

While Hart said he is unaware if he’s ever been evaluated based on his fundraising capabilities, fundraising is an essential indication in evaluating and hiring deans, Faulkner said.

Postings announcing openings for deans commonly require candidates to have experience in fundraising and development. In a document outlining the expectations of the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, UT lists fundraising and developing relationships with the community and external stakeholders as a the dean’s responsibility.

The trend extends beyond UT. A job listing for an engineering dean at UT-San Antonio lists fundraising for endowments and other college activities as part of the dean’s responsibilities. Outside of Texas, job listings for colleges in California and Virginia, among others, indicate deans will be expected to implement a “strong fundraising strategy” and “play a leadership role in the college’s fundraising and external relationship-building.”

Cunningham, who was the dean of the McCombs School of Business before his promotion to president in 1985, said he believes it was his successful fundraising track record that led to his promotion.

“I was only dean for roughly two years, and we raised a million dollars a month for 24 months in a row,” Cunningham said. “Good deans do that. Good deans are out hitting the pavement, talking about the college and why they need external support. It’s just what good deans do.”

After relying on funding allocated from the System for many years, Cunningham said it was during his tenure as president that the University increased its use of using naming opportunities to entice donors.

Despite the importance UT places on development and obtaining large, philanthrophic gifts, the fundraising responsibilities of deans is still dependant on a college’s reputation and academic success. 

“Academic leadership is, in the end, the most important thing,” Faulkner said. “People give gifts because they believe in what is being done in the institution. They’re not just going to give gifts because someone is silver-tongued. So, in the end, it’s what is happening at the colleges. The dean needs to create that reality.”

Hart compares his role to a lobbyist and said asking donors to invest in academic efforts is similar to lobbyists seeking support for policies.

“I don’t have any policies to advance, but I do have a college to advance,” Hart said. “I would go and talk to the devil himself, if necessary, to explain what a wonderful place we are to invest [in].”