Executive

Photo Credit: Courtesy of UT Austin

The UT System Board of Regents voted to name Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, UT’s next president.

The regents met by phone call for a special meeting Monday to vote on Fenves’ appointment, with eight of the nine regents voting in favor and one abstaining.

Reflecting on an uncertain and, at times, rocky relationship between the Board of Regents and past presidents, Fenves said he looks forward to working together for the benefit of UT.

“As the leader of UT-Austin, I look forward to working with the entire Board of Regents in advancing our great university,” Fenves said.

UT System Chancellor William McRaven said he has become familiar with Fenves in his time as chancellor.

“I’ve had an opportunity to work with Dr. Fenves closely here over the last three-and-a-half months in my time as the chancellor, and I think he is an excellent choice for the job,” McRaven said.

Fenves said his ultimate goal for UT is to move forward and help the University continue to become a world-class institution.

“We want to move forward in a positive way,” Fenves said. “I think we need to agree on a common purpose and a vision for the University, agree on what our goals are and how we’re going to achieve those goals.” 

Regent Alex Cranberg voted against naming Fenves as the sole finalist for the position last month, but he voted in favor of Fenves on Monday. Cranberg said he worried about how Fenves would handle growth at the University.

“I voted against naming Provost Fenves as the sole finalist in the last meeting mostly because of my concerns about the opportunity for growth in undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Austin — balancing extensive growth and desired growth,” Cranberg said.

After conversations with Fenves and UT System chancellor William McRaven, Cranberg said he feels Fenves would lead the University’s growth in the right direction.

“I believe he’ll lead the University forward,” Cranberg said. “I feel that if we choose to embrace enrollment growth that was successfully done with engineering and potentially business — that Dr. Fenves will do a great job leading that.”

Regent Wallace Hall also voted against naming Fenves the sole finalist to be UT’s next President at the meeting in March. Hall said he would prefer UT’s new leadership to have come from outside sources.

“I’ve expressed my strong and unambiguous desire for fresher leadership from outside the University,” Hall said. “This should not be taken as criticism of Dr. Fenves, man or the leader.”

Because of unanswered questions regarding admissions policy at UT, he abstained from the vote Monday, Hall said.

“I look very much forward to working with him as our president in years ahead,” Hall said before the vote. “But due to the lingering and unresolved questions concerning the previous and ongoing admission processes, I will abstain from voting.”

UT-Austin has committed to working with the UT System to resolve issues regarding the admissions process, Fenves said.

“Clearly there are a lot of discussions about admission,” Fenves said. “We have committed as a campus, and I commit as the leader of the University, to work with the chancellor and the board in establishing policies for admission going forward.” 

Fenves will take his position as president June 3.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, former senator and president of the Texas Exes, spoke at the KBH Center Symposium Friday. The symposium offered an interdisciplinary take on Mexican energy issues, exploring UT’s potential role in drilling opportunities in Mexico.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison spoke at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Friday during the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center’s Symposium on North American energy security, an event designed to discuss geopolitical issues in North American energy. The symposium was part of UT Energy Week, a conference showcasing emerging research in the energy field. Hutchison discussed about the future of energy technologies and the effects of the energy reforms in Mexico. After the event, Hutchison sat down with The Daily Texan for a Q&A.   

Daily Texan: Where did the idea for the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center come from, and what unique perspective does a multidisciplinary study of the industry with business, law and engineering have to offer, specifically?

Former senator Kay Bailey Hutchison: Honestly, John Beckworth, associate dean of the UT law school, thought of a joint business and law school energy center. I immediately loved it because I have been general counsel of a corporation, and I know so often that the business people do not understand the legal needs to make sure everything in the transaction is right. Conversely, sometimes the lawyers do not understand the needs of the business people to complete a transaction in a timely way so that they do not lose their deal or their customer. So, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to have a joint center where law students in the energy field would learn about the business side and the business students would understand the legal side. [The Center] also has a particular focus on Latin America and the differences in the laws and legal systems. This could be very helpful for somebody who wants to explore or produce energy in another country. It was a perfect fit, and when they decided to name it after me, I was thrilled. 

DT: How would you gauge the success of the KBH center in achieving the goals that you mentioned?

KBH: Well, we have only been created since last summer, but we have come such a long way in a very short time. I think this inaugural symposium has been a huge success. We have had Mel Martínez, the former senator and cabinet member, and Bob Jordan, the former ambassador from the United States to Saudi Arabia. They have given great insights on international energy. Mel is the chairman of J.P. Morgan Latin America, so he showed us the corporate side. Bob Jordan was insightful because Saudi Arabia is doing so much right now to affect the price of oil globally. He also had some good insights on the new king and the new hierarchy in Saudi Arabia. The symposium has been a wonderful success. The panels have been good, the questions have been good. The audience is really asking questions and that is what you want in a good conference. 

DT: Has the KBH Center participated in the debate regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline?

KBH: I am a total supporter of the Keystone Pipeline, myself, but we have not taken a real position on that. It has been discussed in the symposium, and the [Obama] administration was represented here by an assistant secretary of state. The question has come up: Why would we not have a Keystone pipeline? Many in the room think that it would be an environmentally safer way to transport oil from Canada than the trucks that we are having to build new highways to accommodate. So that has been a real debate here and it has been very relevant.

DT: At a panel earlier this week, during UT’s Energy Week, experts agreed that for some issues, such as energy storage, regulatory agencies have fallen behind in developing regulation. Has the center tackled any of these issues and did you encounter any of these issues as a senator?

KBH: Absolutely. As a senator I encountered the new energy innovations. With solar energy, the biggest problem with using it was that it was so cyclical, and we could not store it. Even natural gas for cars. There has been so much that has emerged just in the last 10 years. I think the regulators are certainly trying to keep up with what is necessary in the regulatory field, but it is a work in progress. 

DT: Could you talk about some specific ways that you helped regulatory agencies catch up?

KBH: Well, for sure, the Kay Bailey Hutchison Center will be able to shed light on what is coming up in regulation in terms of what might be needed, what might not be needed, what would be a better way to regulate. We want to allow for creativity to grow and progress. [We] do not want to stifle creativity by regulating something that is not there yet because it is not ready. There has to be balance to assure that the new kinds of energy, clean energy especially, are not regulated to death before they are able to be useful. For instance, the lack of battery storage for solar panels is a problem. If we allowed battery storage we would be able to run manufacturing plants consistently rather than have to lessen output in peak hours. Battery storage is an area where the federal government is doing more research and it’s very important to develop that. But, we want to make sure that as we do, there are environmental rules that assure that we are doing it safely and in an environmentally friendly way. We want the creativity to emerge so we can start using solar energy more efficiently. The new technologies would apply in other areas as well.

DT: Obama has supported an all-of-the-above policy that supports natural gas as well as nuclear and other forms of energy. So, a lot of different forms of energy are being researched. What energy innovation are you most excited about?

KBH: I think it is essential to make sure that we are getting the oil and gas in an environmentally correct way so that we become energy independent. It is going to make us more competitive globally because our businesses will have lower-cost energy. This is an area where America has led. We creatively produce new ways to get oil and natural gas out of the ground and out of the water. So, I think oil and natural gas is probably the biggest area where we can move forward and truly towards energy independence. Solar power and wind power are also very promising. We do not have the mechanics yet to make it a big percentage of our energy use, but Texas is doing quite a bit in wind, as well as solar, and it is very efficient once it is up and going. If we could get the battery storage, it is going to be a real part of our overall energy independence. I am excited about that, and I am excited about Texas’ role in producing these new options. 

There is also another option — using currents in the oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. [We] can use currents to generate energy for use on land. That is something that is being experimented in the Galveston-Houston Area. The University of Houston is doing work in that area, as well as others.

DT: Today’s symposium has an international focus of stabilizing North America’s energy. What are specific energy initiatives in Mexico by Mexicans, Americans or private actors that you look forward to see implemented?

KBH: The exciting part of energy in Mexico is that they are opening it up. It used to be just PEMEX, the national oil company, that was able to produce oil and gas in Mexico. But President Nieto has certainly made strides in saying, “We want to open it up, we want foreign investment and we want more out of the ground, as well as the Gulf of Mexico.” He is making it happen, and the [Mexican Legislature] is going along with it, and they are in the regulatory stage now. I think the American companies are going to want to be a part of this. They are going to want to work, in some cases, with PEMEX, and, in some cases, independently. [The companies] are going to bid on leases in the northern part of Mexico that would be the continuation of the Eagle Ford find in South Texas that we think continues on in North Mexico. But also, in the Gulf of Mexico, there is a lot of opportunity. American and European countries are bidding and winning in the Gulf of Mexico for drilling in the deep water, but it is very expensive so that may be down the road because the price of oil is so low right now. But, the big question mark out there is safety and the drug cartels. No foreign company is going to want to come in if they are not going to be able to be safe and also be able to do business in a transparent way because we have laws that require that. This large criminal element in the drug cartels is really hurting so much of the tourism in Mexico, most certainly, and in some ways, business as well. 

Clay Johnston spoke at the AT&T Conference Center Friday about building a new health care “ecosystem.” Dr. Johnston is the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School and will begin his tenure March 1.
Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

Clay Johnston, dean of the Dell Medical School, called for a health care revolution in a speech Friday at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.

Johnston said he hoped to build a new health care “ecosystem” by shifting the industry’s focus to developing innovations in education and information processing. He said the health care industry should adopt the Lean Startup model, a plan that emphasizes preventative health care measures.

“We need experts in health care redesign and people who understand population health,” Johnston said “We can be much more influential by coordinating not just with the physician community, but with the broader community to get it to move forward.”

Johnston said the health care system is outdated, with discrepancies between modern technology and the technology used in the health care field. 

“Health care accounts for 18 percent of the U.S. economy, and, yet, it’s powered by technology that’s really 50 years old,” Johnston said.

The McCombs Healthcare Initiative sponsored the event. Edward Anderson, director of the Initiative and professor at the McCombs School of Business, said Johnston’s vision of coordinating health care with the community could lead to a technology boom in Austin similar to that of the 1960s. 

“We have the potential for doing, here in Austin, what was done back in the late ‘60s with high-tech manufacturing,” Johnston said. “It did great things for Austin and put Austin on the map. I think we’ve got a good shot, particularly with this mandate and this team, for making that happen again here in health care.”

Ahmed Riaz, creative director at Frog Design Inc., said Johnston had a positive message that applied to a variety of Austin professionals, including those outside the health care industry.

“He’s in a position to actually change things in the medical world and has a plan to create a system that involves the community,” Riaz said. “It really engaged Austin as a community and the society at large.” 

Johnston, who begins his tenure at the Dell Medical School in March 2014, encouraged future medical students to facilitate health care innovation.

“We want the medical schools here to enable the entire community to start thinking about being partners, envisioning better solutions and moving health forward,” Johnston said. “One of the best places to start that is here on campus.” 

Correction: This story has been edited since its original publication. In his quote about a potential health-care boom in Austin, Johnston referred to a mandate, not a man. Further, he began his tenure in March of last year.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said leadership in the U.S. is not effectively solving issues in the Middle East at an intelligence conference held in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Saturday.

“America has invited aggression by stepping back from the world stage,” said McCaul, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

UT’s Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law hosted the “Intelligence Reform and Counterterrorism after a Decade: Are We Smarter and Safer?” conference to look back at the 10 years since the passing of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which restructured U.S. intelligence. McCaul gave the closing address Saturday about what he still believes are threats to national security, as well as what should be done in the future.

“The lack of leadership has fueled the rise of extremists and terrorist safe havens,” said McCaul, who is currently serving his fifth term representing Texas’ 10th District in the U.S. Congress.

McCaul said he believes the Obama administration is falling behind in national security and foreign relations. He said in 2013, weeks after President Barack Obama declared that the “War on Terrorism” was over, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of the Islamic State group.

“The rise of ISIS should have come to no surprise, and was certainly not to me,” McCaul said. 

According to McCaul, the creation of reforms, such as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and National Counterterrorism Center, identified the Islamic State group as a threat more than a year ago.

Greater stability in the Middle East is the only way to combat the radical ideologies of Islam, according to McCaul, who also said the “moderate Muslim” ideology is the most effective tool in combating extremists.

“I think it is a little naïve to think that we can take a Jeffersonian democracy and put it in to some of these Middle Eastern countries,” McCaul said.

Plan II senior Mark Jbeily, who attended the conference, said he believes that threats such as the “War on Terror” have been distracting the U.S. from missed opportunities outside of the Middle East.

“The entire time that I’ve been politically aware of the world, its been the ‘War on Terror,’ it’s been Islamic extremism [and] it’s been trying to combat all of that,” said Jbeily, a member of ROTC and Clements Undergraduate Fellow. “The Middle East is an issue we’re just going to have to deal with. I don’t think we’re ever going to solve it, especially in our lifetime.”

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, spoke at an intelligence conference in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Friday about Congress' role in improving the country's counterterrorism efforts.

The conference, titled “Intelligence Reform and Counterterrorism after a Decade: Are We Smarter and Safer?” is being hosted by the Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law to look back at the 10 years since the passing of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which restructured U.S. intelligence.

Thornberry, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he experienced many threats against the U.S. in his time working in Washington, D.C., but none like 9/11.

“I get to my office in the Cannon Building, turn on the TV news and they show lots of smoke coming out of the Pentagon, which I had just left 15 minutes before,” Thornberry said. “Then a Capitol Hill policeman comes running down the hall saying, ‘Get out, get out, there’s another one coming for us.'”

Thornberry said the aftermath of 9/11 and the anthrax scare led to a discomfort among the American population.

“Nothing that we had counted on to protect us was really working and that made everybody unsettled and concerned about our future,” Thornberry said.

John McLauglin, former acting director of Central Intelligence, said the biggest concern to national security is the fact that so many crises are demanding the attention of the American government at once.

“I think the biggest threat to our national security right now is the sheer number of problems that we have to deal with simultaneously; in other words, you’ve got to worry about the ISIS problem, you’ve got to worry about Russia, you’ve got to worry about North Korea, you’ve got to worry about whether we can get a nuclear agreement with Iran, and that’s just the first tier of the problems,” McLauglin said.

McLauglin said stopping the Islamic State group should be a top priority to national defense.

“Among those, ISIS is probably the single most important threat because what they are trying to do is establish a terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East," McLaughlin said. "Something that we believe, those of us who worked on the Middle East, we sum it up in a single statement – what starts in the Middle East never stays in the Middle East."

Thornberry said Congress has a duty to the American public to protect, but it may be falling short.

“I think Congress could do a much better job at looking at the bigger picture and the longer term," Thornberry said. "The temptation is always to follow the news of the day because that’s what the reporter is going to put the mic in your face about.”

Joseph DeTrani, president of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, said younger generations are vital to the intelligence community.

“For the students here, functional issues [are] extremely important, regional issues [are] extremely important," DeTrani said. "Get into that, and I can tell you the intelligence community and the national security agencies per se, not just the intelligence community, needs that input, needs that youth, needs the millennials coming in and others coming in from universities, graduate schools and so forth because that’s the future.”

Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser, said at an intelligence conference held in the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Friday that intelligence and counterterrorism reforms since 9/11 have been successful.

The conference, titled “Intelligence Reform and Counterterrorism after a Decade: Are We Smarter and Safer?” is being hosted by the University’s Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law to look back at the 10 years since the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 was passed and restructured U.S. intelligence. 

After the passing of the reform act in 2004, Hadley said the national intelligence committee has been putting much effort into improving its methods to keep the country safe. He said, by the support and dedication of the committee, they have managed to improve over the years.

“The effort by the intelligence committee became so refined that we were knitting up the intelligence and policy process in real time,” Hadley said.

Hadley said the intelligence committee requires the participation of policy makers at senior levels so it can have a better understanding and support of the methods required to solve national threats.

“Every paper that is prepared that comes to the senior policy makers will have an entire list of different approaches,” Hadley said. “And this overloads time because these policy makers are supposed to connect trust with power.”

Hadley said although there has been skepticism about the success of the intelligence committee and the National Security Council, they have been very effective.

“We are better and safer at this business,” Hadley said. “And what has made us better is that when we have a crisis we see it as an opportunity to take advantage of all of our work and seize the moment by taking thoughts and decisions and turning them into reality and change.”

According to Hadley, a big part of this success is due to having the right people doing the job, and contributions from the president, American citizens and National Security Council members.

In 2006, the Texas Comptroller denounced consulting firm Accenture’s mishandling of Texas welfare, Medicaid enrollments and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Instead of saving the state money as the company had promised, Accenture cost the state $99.9 million more than their budget had allowed. Because of Accenture’s shoddy work, families in need were wrongly denied food stamps, many health insurance applications were mistakenly faxed to a warehouse in Seattle and 81,504 children lost health insurance coverage in just 9 months — some of them seriously ill. The State of Texas has since terminated its contract with Accenture, but not before paying $243 million for these horrors.

Now some students worry about Accenture’s plans to transform UT in the form of the University’s new Shared Services plan, which will begin being implemented this semester and which was planned with the help of Accenture. 

In 2011, the chief executive of Accenture’s Health and Public Service, Stephen Rohleder, published an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman in which he argued that public institutions, such as UT-Austin, should adopt shared services practices from the private sector. Rohleder worked with Accenture for 30 years, several of them as a chief operating officer at the company. 

Months later, Rohleder chaired a committee advising UT on business productivity. UT paid Accenture staff $960,000, without competitive bidding, meaning that no other companies were given a chance to compete for the contract. A subcommittee chaired by Stephan James recommended that UT’s operations be centralized into shared services in the process, eliminating hundreds of jobs. James, too, was an Accenture executive, for 38 years, and another chief operating officer. 

Given Accenture’s past history, some faculty and students voiced concerns about the company’s involvement in the initiative last semester.

UT’s Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty replied, “Shared Services at UT is not an Accenture-driven project.” At a faculty meeting, Hegarty also admitted, “If it’s an Accenture plan, it’s not going to be successful.” 

But even after the original proposal was finished, Accenture’s involvement on the UT campus continues. The project team tasked with creating the  UT Shared Services plan has six leaders, including three Accenture executives, Tim Mould, Ryan Oakes, Jamie Wills, plus a former Accenture executive, Brad Englert, now the University’s chief information officer. 

To implement the Shared Services plan, administrators will have to buy a “hugely expensive” system called Workday for more than $100 million. Workday publicizes its Services Partners, and its first partner is Accenture — despite the fact that Workday does not list its partners in alphabetical order. Accenture even describes itself as  “one of Workday’s most strategic, experienced and successful deployment partners,” further underscoring the relationship between the company and Workday.

Englert will oversee the implementation of Workday. Julienne VanDerZiel, another Shared Services planning leader, is also a former Accenture executive.

It remains to be seen how their experience at Accenture will affect the University. 

Accenture developed shared services for the University of Michigan. At a meeting of UT’s Staff Council, Hegarty explained the importance of Michigan’s Shared Services as a model for implementing the system at UT: “They’re probably the closest institution to us of any out there. They’re about the same size, the same scope, everything. And so we think: That’s really a good test case to look at, watch and monitor …. They look very, very much like we look when you look at how they’re organized.”

And what does shared services look like at Michigan? It looks like Michigan has paid $22.5 million for Accenture’s shared services to cut 50 staff jobs and relocate 275 jobs out of other departments. Longtime employees must reapply for jobs, which they might lose. Department chairs received “an unprecedented gag order” not to discuss shared services. An investigative committee of alumni and students concluded that Accenture “cannot be trusted with the University of Michigan’s financial management, its IT systems or with other sensitive information.” They begged for the vice president of finance, a former Accenture executive, to be replaced immediately to avoid conflict of interests. 

Michigan’s IT Governance Council complained that Accenture underestimated costs and overestimated savings. Finally, scores of Michigan professors denounced shared services as “a misguided venture that will irreparably harm our cherished institution.” An unprecedented 1,169 faculty have signed a petition, including the chairs of 29 departments. They begged their president to terminate the project immediately: “We implore you to restore sanity to the University.”

But UT, which has just begun the implementation of the Shared Services plan on campus, can prevent a similar crisis before it begins at home. I urge that instead of paying companies in California, Ireland and Bermuda through Accenture, UT should hire UT staff and Texas programmers to custom build its administrative systems. 

Alberto A. Martinez is a member of the UT Faculty Council, and an associate professor in the department of history.

The McCombs School of Business Foundation has established revenue-generating enterprises to benefit the business school, while also attracting thousands of dollars in private gifts each year.

As an independent nonprofit, the foundation benefits the McCombs School of Business and provides close to $5 million in contributions to the school and more than $600,000 in scholarships each year. The foundation also supplements business school dean Thomas Gilligan’s salary with an extra $100,000 and doubles the salaries of some lecturers and professors through compensation for their work with a training program for professionals.

Joe Holt, CEO of the Austin region of JP Morgan Chase and chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, said the foundation’s leadership is aware of the weight transparency has on its credibility with donors. 

“There is no transfer of funds unless they are approved by trustees,” Holt said. “That level of transparency created credibility with donors and alumni. In all the things that are swirling around right now, the most important thing we can do is make sure that the intent is right and the actions are transparent.”

According to the most recent IRS records available, donors contributed more than $97,000 in 2011. But the foundation’s primary source of revenue is from the Executive Education Program, a training program for professionals. 

Five business faculty members provide training at conferences for corporations and state agencies and are compensated by the foundation in amounts ranging from about $300,000 for senior management lecturer Gaylen Paulson to almost $570,000 for John Daly, communication studies and management professor. This compensation is in addition to their University salaries. Other professors occasionally provide training through the program, but their compensations are not listed individually on tax records.

The program brought in about $7.4 million in revenue during the 2011 fiscal year. The foundation uses the money toward regular philanthropic operations, Holt said.

Like other external foundations, the business school foundation has allowed donors to establish enterprises benefitting the University that would face legal constraints if carried out by the University itself.

Dallas attorney Del Williams, former chairman of the foundation’s board, said former business school dean George Kozmetsky initially set up the foundation so that private gifts could be invested in stocks — something state laws prohibited at the time. 

Kozmetsky laid the groundwork for the MBA Investment Fund, LLC, which was created in 2001 as the first private investment company managed by students, Williams said.

Business school spokesman David Wenger said the fund operates under a management agreement with the foundation.

“The MBA Investment Fund manager has full discretion to manage the fund while giving quarterly accountability reports to the foundation,” Wenger said. “While every attempt is made to increase the value of the fund, its primary purpose is to serve as a real-world educational experience for the student portfolio managers.”

In addition to establishing the investment fund, the foundation has also helped the business school with property acquisition. In 2011, the foundation purchased the property where Players Restaurant sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for $3 million. The University then bought the property from the foundation for $1.5 million as part of a deal to obtain the property below its appraised value of $2.5 million. State law prohibits the University from purchasing property at more than the appraised value. 

The University plans to use the property to expand the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center and construct a graduate business school building. The owners of Players can continue to operate on the property for up to 10 years.

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Printed on Tuesday, April 30, 2013 as: McCombs Foundation profits from enterprises 

A $25 million donation is going to give business graduate students another place to study and everyone else a new place to park.

Dallas businessman and UT alumnus Robert B. Rowling and his family donated $25 million to construct a graduate school building for the McCombs School of Business, UT President William Powers Jr. announced Thursday. The University is naming the building Rowling Hall and will build it at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Guadalupe Street.

“Texas is the best place in the country to do business, and we hope this gift will encourage the best and the brightest to come to Austin to get their MBAs and be part of the phenomenon that is Texas,” Rowling said in a statement.

Set to open in 2017, the 458,000-square-foot building will cost about $155 million to construct, of which $58.25 million will come from private gifts including Rowlings’ $25 million, which kicks off the fundraising campaign. 

Along with housing the business school’s graduate programs, the new building will also expand the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center’s ability to hosts conferences. 

Business school Dean Thomas Gilligan said Rowling Hall will help students by providing more space that is innovative and up-to-date.

“With respects to our peer groups, they all have buildings that are much newer than ours,” Gilligan said. “So it helps us compete for students.”

Gilligan said the current facilities UT has are nice, but they were built several decades ago. He said the spaces a university has to offer does play into applicants’ decision to choose one program over another.

“Graduate students spend a lot of time in these buildings,” Gilligan said. “They just don’t go to class and then go home.” 

The new building will also supply more parking at UT. Rowling Hall will come with a parking garage, expected to add 525 parking spaces. UT’s Parking and Transportation Services is paying the $15.5 million construction cost for the parking garage. 

Jeri Baker, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, said this is how parking garages at UT are normally paid for. Baker said the planning process is still early and many details are not available, but she said she is excited about the project.

“Any spaces that we can add to our inventory will definitely assist those that desire to come to campus,” Baker said.

UT acquired some of the land for the project from Players restaurant in April 2012 in a transaction through the McCombs School of Business Foundation. The foundation purchased the land for $3 million cash and a lease valued at $1 million and sold it to the University for about $2.5 million.

By law, the University cannot purchase property above the appraised value.

In addition to the $58.2 million from private donations, the building will be funded by tuition-backed bonds from the UT System, Parking and Transportation Services and the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, Gilligan said.

A protester dressed up as Rupert Murdoch poses for photographs as he demonstrate outside the Leveson inquiry at the High Court in London on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

LONDON — News Corp. executive James Murdoch’s behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign spilled out into the public domain Tuesday, casting a harsh light on the British government’s Olympics czar.

Murdoch was speaking before the media ethics inquiry set up in the wake of the country’s phone hacking scandal, which has shaken the U.K.’s establishment with revelations of journalistic misdeeds, police corruption, and corporate malpractice.

Some of Murdoch’s testimony revisited his own role in the scandal, but far more explosive were revelations about how senior British ministers went out of their way to smooth the path for one of his biggest-ever business deals.

Particularly damning was correspondence showing how Olympics czar Jeremy Hunt secretly backed Murdoch’s multibillion dollar bid for full control of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC. As the minister charged with deciding whether to refer the takeover deal to Britain’s competition authority, Hunt was meant to have been neutral.

“I am approaching the decision with total impartiality and following strict due process,” Hunt told lawmakers in January 2011. But a cache of text messages and emails published by Leveson’s inquiry Tuesday suggested that Hunt was fighting on Murdoch’s side the whole time.

“He said we would get there at the end, and he shared our objectives,” was how an email from News Corp. lobbyist Frederic Michel described Hunt’s attitude.

Other emails appeared to capture Hunt’s office providing Murdoch with sensitive intelligence on his political opponents and offering advice on how best to present his bid. At one point Adam Smith, Hunt’s special adviser, sends a text message to Michel boasting that “I [have] been causing a lot of chaos and moaning from people here on your behalf.”

One message even quoted Hunt’s statement a day before it was due to be delivered to the House of Commons — a breach of parliamentary protocol which Michel described as “absolutely illegal.”

Later Tuesday, Hunt issued a statement saying that some of the evidence “reported meetings and conversations that simply didn’t happen.” He said he has asked to move forward his appearance at the Leveson inquiry so he can present his side of the story.

“I am very confident that when I present my evidence the public will see that I conducted this process with scrupulous fairness,” Hunt said.

During Tuesday’s hearing, inquiry lawyer Robert Jay repeatedly needled Murdoch on the propriety of these back-channel communications.

“Do you think it’s appropriate, Mr. Murdoch, that here you are getting confidential information as to what’s going on at a high level of government?” Jay asked.

Murdoch hesitated before giving an awkward laugh.

“What I was concerned with here was the substance of what was being communicated, not the channel by which it was communicated,” he said.

Murdoch was eventually forced to drop the proposed deal following the eruption of Britain’s phone hacking scandal in July, but the emails could be still be damaging.

As secretary for culture, Olympics, media and sport, Hunt is the most senior government official dedicated to the 2012 Games. If it were proven that he had given Murdoch special favors, his lead role on the games — where a level playing field is guaranteed for all — might be in jeopardy.

Prime Minister David Cameron expressed confidence in the 45-year-old minister, but within minutes of Murdoch’s testimony, opposition politicians were calling on Hunt to step down.

“All politicians, including Labour, became too close to the Murdochs, but this is in a completely different league,” Labour leader Ed Miliband told journalists. “We have Jeremy Hunt engaging in detailed discussions with a party, News Corporation, that is bidding to take over BSkyB and he is supposed to be the impartial judge.”

The nature of the Murdoch family’s links with senior politicians is one of the key questions raised by the phone hacking scandal. Critics of News Corp. argue that Conservative Party politicians — including Hunt — waved through the BSkyB deal in return for favorable press coverage. Murdoch, showing little emotion, repeatedly denied the charge Tuesday.

“I would never have made that kind of a crass calculation. It just wouldn’t occur to me,” he said.

Murdoch’s testimony gave a feel for his company’s considerable clout, detailing 20-odd dinners, lunches, breakfasts and other meetings with Cameron and other leaders — including former prime ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.

Earlier in the hearing Murdoch was forced to defend his record at the head of his father’s scandal-plagued British newspaper arm, saying that subordinates prevented him from making a clean sweep at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid.

Murdoch repeated allegations that the tabloid’s then-editor Colin Myler and the company’s former in-house lawyer, Tom Crone, misled him about the scale of illegal behavior at the newspaper.

Leveson asked Murdoch: “Can you think of a reason why Mr. Myler or Mr. Crone should keep this information from you? Was your relationship with them such that they may think: ‘Well we needn’t bother him with that’ or ‘We better keep it from it because he’ll ask to cut out the cancer’?”

“That must be it,” Murdoch said. “I would say: ‘Cut out the cancer,’ and there was some desire to not do that.”

Murdoch’s father Rupert, News Corp.’s executive chairman, is scheduled to testify before Leveson on Wednesday morning.

Media analyst Paul Connew predicted more pain for British politicians. “James Murdoch’s appearance is only the warm up act,” he said.

Printed on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 as: Murdoch inquiry affects top UK officials