UT President

Judith Langlois will serve as interim provost

UT President William Powers Jr. announced an interim replacement for Gregory Fenves, provost and executive vice president, who was named UT’s next president earlier this week.

Judith Langlois, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies, will serve in the interim provost and executive vice president, while administrators conduct a search for a permanent replacement, according to an email sent by Powers to students, faculty and staff. Langlois will assume the position May 26.

Langlois has served as associate dean and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and also served as chair of the Presidential Committee on the Status of Non-Tenure Faculty.

In the email announcement, Powers said the search for a permenant replacement for Fenves will begin immediately.

Fenves will begin his term as president June 3.

Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

UT president William Powers Jr. addressed concerns regarding UT’s unchanged student-faculty ratio at the faculty council meeting Monday.

Powers said using University funds to attract a higher quality faculty should come before putting significant resources toward a rapid expansion of faculty.

“I think it is not [a] good strategy to go and expand when we’re not competitive and not get the faculty we want,” Powers said. “Getting our student-to-faculty ratio better is still a priority, but it would put the cart before the horse to go out and try to do that before we first try to correct the problem of being more competitive.”

The student-faculty ratio during the 2014-2015 academic year was 1:18.62, according to the UT Office of Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems.

According to a report from UT, beginning in 2001, UT president Larry Faulkner wanted to hire nearly 300 new faculty members to reduce the student-faculty ratio over the course of ten years.

Powers said the initiative was strong for the first few years and explained why it had not met its goals of decreasing the ratio of students to faculty.

“We introduced a program over a decade adding 300 net new tenure, tenuretrack faculty members, and each year for the three or four years at that rate, we added 30 new faculty members,” Powers said.

In his 2006 address to the University, Powers went beyond Faulkner’s plan. He said the initiative should be taken even further, calling for an additional 145 faculty members to establish a student-faculty ratio of 1:16. A commission made of UT community members made the recommendation to Powers.

“We are already committed to hiring 125 more to complete our 300 faculty expansion,” Powers said in his speech. “Beyond that, we need an additional 145 new faculty to attain the Commission’s goal.”

However, Powers said once the recession struck in 2008, and the budget was restricted, the initiative’s progress came to a halt.

“In 2008-2009, we had a budget crunch, and, at that point, I think it was well understood, certainly well stated, that we certainly did not have the financial wherewithal to continue adding 30 faculty members net, year after year,” Powers said.

Power said the University began to focus on increasing salaries for faculty and graduate students during the same time frame to attract higher quality applicants for both positions.

Associate history professor Alberto Martínez questioned the initiative at the faculty council meeting in March. He said there is still work to be done in comparison to other universities.

“I worry that the overall, average faculty salaries can be raised just by hiring a few new professors at very high pay scales,” Martin said. “Instead, I know that we can hire similarly excellent faculty at more moderate salaries, thus being able to hire more faculty in order to improve our ratios as well.”

Texas land commissioner George P. Bush speaks Monday evening at the awards ceremony for the inaugural Latin Leadership Award.
Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

UT President Bill Powers presented land commissioner George P. Bush the inaugural Latino Leadership Award on Monday evening.

The president’s office worked in conjunction with the Center of Mexican American Studies and the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies to select Bush as the first awardee, said Dr. Nicole Guidotti-Hernández, associate director of the Center for Mexican American Studies.

“We went through a series of 15 nominees, and we evaluated them for leadership, public service and areas like that,” Guidotti-Hernández said. “With him as the first Latino land commissioner, I think in its [179-year] history of the office, we thought it was an appropriate acknowledgement of what it means to be a trailblazer in Latino leadership today.”

As a son of a Mexican-American mother and as a Hispanic man who grew up in the U.S., Bush said he was honored to receive the award.

“Going to this University, being honored for the first time, it’s truly a honor and privilege,” Bush said. “It’s truly a challenge to take things to the next level, to give a hand to the next generation of students looking at opportunities whether its public service or grad school or finding opportunities that can improve their life. [There is] a lot of work ahead.”

Bush said he wants his agency to help both the center and the department.

“They’re doing research that I think is going to benefit our agency,” Bush said. “In terms of projecting the big needs facing the community, they mentioned health care, immigration, voter ID and so forth, which is helpful to our agency.”

While Bush accepted the award, approximately 15 protesters in the West Mall came to express their dissatisfaction at Bush receiving this award, as well as with his political track record. 

Feminist activist Martha Cotera speaks in front of the tower in protest of the decision to grant Land Commissioner George P. Bush the inaugural Latino Leadership Award Monday evening. Cotera and other protestors cited Bush's political record on issues ranging from immigration to fracking and environmental concerns as reasons why he should not have been selected for the award. Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

According to Daniel Yanez, an Austin community organizer, Bush appears to care about issues facing the Latino community, but he hasn’t done anything actually benefitting that group.

“As a politician, he has never come out for Hispanic or Latino or Mexican-American issues,” Yanez said. “To give him an award, particularly of this type — I have to laugh.”

Protesters addressed several of the issues Bush said he wishes to improve. Students gathered around to listen to feminist activist Martha Cotera, who took a strong stance against most of Bush’s political policies, ranging from immigration to fracking and environmental concerns.

“It’s difficult for students and faculty and staff to get involved in actions like this,” Cotera said. “We do not know how this honor came about. We are concerned that the values that this person has publicly talked about and in the Republican platform that he supports are anti-civil rights, anti-poor, anti-women.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of UT Austin

The UT System Board of Regents voted Friday to select Greg Fenves, UT executive vice president and provost, as the sole finalist to become the next UT president.

If approved, Fenves will replace outgoing President William Powers Jr., whose relationship with the Board has been tumultuous for the last several years. The Board must wait 21 days before making an official appointment. 

Fenves came to UT as a civil engineering assistant professor in 1984 and served as dean for the Cockrell School of Engineering from 2008 to 2013. In his capacity as provost, Fenves has been responsible for academic, research and curriculum affairs, as well as resource allocation for faculty recruitment. Working with deans and other academic officials, Fenves also oversees planning and operations for libraries, museums, collections, and research centers.

Sharon Wood, who succeeded Fenves as engineering school dean, said she first met Fenves when he was a faculty member at the University of California-Berkeley nearly 25 years ago.

“I was very taken aback at his very strong vision. He articulated it very well — where he wanted the department to go and what targets they had,” Wood said.

Since his appointment as provost in October 2013, Fenves has worked closely with Powers on a variety of University initiatives. At Friday’s meeting, three of the regents who have been most vocal in their criticism of Powers — Wallace Hall, Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich — all voted against Fenves.

Board Chairman Paul Foster said he felt the dissenting voices speak well to the Board’s decision-making process.

“I think it’s wonderful that we have a diverse board and that we don’t rubber stamp any issues,” Foster said. “We thoroughly vet every issue and all of our regents feel completely comfortable expressing their views.”

Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, president of the Texas Exes, said the selection committee favored Fenves after it interviewed him for the president position. Fenves was one of three main candidates in the search, alongside current UT-Dallas President David Daniel and Oxford University Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton. Hamilton, who was widely reported to be the front-runner, announced he was taking a position as president at New York University early last week. 

“[Fenves] had a wonderful interview with the selection committee, and he was a top choice,” Hutchison said. “I think the Texas Exes are going to be very pleased because he has overwhelming support from the people that sent me their recommendations.”

Wood said she knows Fenves has a strong work ethic, as demonstrated by his early rising habits.

“I used to joke with him — I get up very early because I exercise before work, and so if I ever want to catch Greg, I know that five in the morning is the best time to send him an email,” Wood said. “I know I’ll get a response back immediately.”

In light of budget shortfalls in the state government, Jefferson Coombs, executive director of the Cal Alumni Association, said Fenves would be able to provide strong support for continued funding at UT.

“At this time when public research universities face a lot of challenges in terms of funding from the state, I think he’s a fantastic advocate for the impact and the power and the importance of public higher education,” Coombs said.

Coombs said he believes Fenves will continue and build upon Powers’ goal of maintaining clear lines of communication with the UT community.

“I really get the impression that he is going to not just maintain strong dialogue with students. I get the impression that he wants to expand it and that he is very personally enthusiastic about the connection with students,” Coombs said.

As provost, Fenves has helped lead the effort to launch the Dell Medical School and greenlight construction on the Engineering Education and Research Center, a $310 million, 430,000-square-foot building dedicated to research and student projects. The building is slated for completion in 2017.

Fenves serves on multiple committees at UT, including the Dean Search and the Dell Medical School Steering committees.

He has also received numerous national awards, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, and from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Walter L. Huber Research Prize, the Moisseiff Award, and the J. James R. Croes Medal.

UT System Board of Regents to discuss candidates for Powers’ replacement

The UT System Board of Regents called a special meeting Wednesday to discuss individual candidates and possible naming of finalists for the position of UT president.

According to the meeting agenda, the Board of Regents will meet in an executive session to discuss candidates to replace President William Powers Jr., who will step down in June. The meeting will be reopened to the public at 4 p.m. to consider action, if any, on executive session agenda items. 

The names of the presidential finalists are expected to be released in March, according to a timeline published on the UT System’s website.

In late February, “Horns Digest”, an online sports journal, named four alleged finalists for the UT presidency. The journal named Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of UT, David Daniel, president of UT Dallas, and Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor of the University of Oxford in England.

The UT System Board of Regents will meet Wednesday to discuss the search for UT’s next president. President WIlliam Powers Jr. will step down from his position in June.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

UT President William Powers Jr. is working to amend a bill to ensure students who are automatically accepted to UT, and who later decide to enlist in the military, will regain their admitted status to the University after their time in the service.

SB 175, a bill originally passed in 2009, modified UT’s admissions structure to limit automatically admitted students to 75 percent of a given class. It also provided a mechanism for automatic transfer admission, so students who are admitted into the University in the top 7 percent of their class have the option to attend a community college for up to two years and then come to UT, given they complete a certain portion of their degree plan and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Powers said he felt that student-veterans were left out of the plan outlined by SB 175.

“In the bill, we did not have a provision for [what happens] if a student goes into the military,” Powers said at a UT System Board of Regents meeting on Feb. 11. “One doesn’t want to penalize a student for having made that choice. [It’s] both a life choice for them, and … they’re serving their country. The law actually only says they keep [their automatic acceptance] for two years, but a lot of people go into the military for three or four years, so we would like to solve that problem.”

Powers said the bill outlines a clear path for community college students who are qualified to attend UT, but generally does not allow for an admissions timeline amenable to the military experience. 

“I think it was geared toward the community college experience, whereas many veterans will go in for a four-year hitch, come out and they don’t fall into that provision,” Powers said.

Linguistics graduate student Lauren Terzenbach said she thinks the same protections should be extended to student-veterans as those that are provided for veterans who leave the work force and return after serving.

“It’s the same for a job that has to be held for a [National Guardsman] or reserve soldier if they’re deployed. Why wouldn’t education do something similar?” Terzenbach said. 

Powers told regents he is currently working on the issue of how to classify returning veterans who were automatically admitted.

“There are a couple of legal issues that we have not yet worked out. For example, when those students come back, having been automatically admitted, do they count under our automatic admissions 75 percent, or do they count under the 25 percent discretional admissions?” Powers said. “Obviously, we would like them to count as the automatic admissions [students].”

Powers said returning student-veterans are classified as transfer students, but under a new plan, they would retain their automatic admissions status, going in the same pool of other automatically admitted students when they return to UT.

Regent Alex Cranberg said he agreed with Powers that the returning veterans, who were automatically accepted to UT from high school, should be counted with the 75 percent of an entering class that is automatically accepted. This would allow more room for students to be accepted under the holistic admissions process that the other 25 percent of the class is admitted through, he said.

“I think that if we come up with a solution which, if implemented, will fully address the problem and concern that we’ve talked about — that the transfer latitude seems to be the appropriate way of still preserving veterans’ auto-admit rights while allowing the University to be able to fully deploy its 25 percent toward holistic admission,” Cranberg said.

UT President William Powers Jr. attended the president’s and first lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity event Thursday in Washington D.C.

According to Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, the event focused on increasing the opportunity to attend college for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds by asking leaders from universities, businesses and communities to make commitments to address this issue in 2014. Sperling said the event “would not be the destination; it would be the launch.”

In a list released by the White House containing commitments from all of the event’s participants, Powers outlined a variety of pledges he made on behalf of UT. His commitments focus primarily on expanding existing programs to increase college opportunities for youth in underprivileged areas.

Powers’ pledges include a plan to offer students financial aid in exchange for maintaining good standing in the University Leadership Network, a program focused on developing academic and leadership skills. He also included a promise to expand the Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment program to more than 500 students, which allows students to take most of their classes at a community college and one course at UT per semester.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The Moody College of Communications’ school of journalism celebrated its 100th Anniversary at a ceremony Monday, in which speakers addressed the school’s successes over the last century, while also discussing recent developments including the tense relationship between UT President William Powers Jr. and the UT System Board of Regents.

Powers praised the school of journalism’s faculty and said the school’s diversity and vitality are due mainly to the leadership of its professors. 

“In the future, we will maintain a … journalism education [that emphasizes] not only the ‘how’, but also the ‘why’ and the ethics and the way of going about getting the truth,” Powers said. 

At the event, Powers praised State Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, whom he referred to as “our BFF.” Zaffirini, who received her master’s degree from the college in 1970, sits on the Senate Higher Education Committee and has been vocal about her frustrations with the conduct of current members of the UT System Board of Regents.

In her speech, Zaffirini said Powers has had a positive impact on the University and on the journalism school in particular, but said she was aware others did not share that view.

“I wish all the members of the Board of Regents felt the same,” Zaffirini said.

Powers and several regents, including Wallace Hall, who is currently under investigation for overstepping his bounds as a regent, have had a tense relationship over the course of the last several years. At a Dec. 12 meeting of the board, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa recommended Powers remain in his position but described relations between Powers and the board as “strained.”

Zaffirini also presented an official proclamation from the Texas State Senate, which salutes the school of journalism with “an expression of esteem.”

Moody College dean Roderick P. Hart said he places significant importance on the school of journalism’s duty to educate the next generation of “ambassadors of the truth.”

“A journalist’s job is providing the truth, and telling the truth, and telling it right, and digging deeper, and asking unpleasant questions and pushing a little bit harder so that the rest of us can all profit from an enlightened democracy,” Hart said.

Journalism sophomore Dylan Samuel also said that he is proud of what the school of journalism has accomplished within the past hundred years.

“We have some great guys, [such as] Walter Cronkite,” Samuel said. “It also doesn’t hurt that the school is bringing us into the digital age with a focus on social media.”

Photo Credit: Bobby Blanchard | Daily Texan Staff

Orange — A building named after a UT president, faculty member or regent.
Green — A building named after a donor.
Yellow — A building that is unnamed. The University might name the building in the future, however.
Purple — The UT Tower and Main Building.
Light Blue — A building named after someone who is neither a former UT president, faculty member of regent or a donor.

The University of Texas at Austin campus is made up by more than 200 buildings — almost 100 of which are named after an individual. Most named buildings were named in honor of a renown UT president or faculty member. However, the University has named more buildings after donors in recent years as it has become dependent on philanthropy.

Check out this interactive Google map above to see whom the buildings you take your classes in are named after — and check out Monday's issue of The Daily Texan for an in-depth story about the history behind UT's named buildings.

The University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012. The Supreme Court is taking up a challenge to a University of Texas program that considers race in some college admissions. The case could produce new limits on affirmative action at universities, or roll it back entirely. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

UT President William Power Jr. was named the University of California, Berkeley’s Alumnus of the Year for 2014.

Powers received his undergraduate chemistry degree at the UC-Berkeley in 1967.

According to UC-Berkeley’s website Powers was honored with the position for his experience as a Navy veteran, editor of the “Harvard Law Review,” legal consultant to the U.S. Congress and the Brazilian Legislature as well as his role as UT president.

“As president, Powers has made great progress in transforming UT into one of the finest public research universities in the nation,” the statement said. “He has strengthened the undergraduate core curriculum, inaugurated the School of Undergraduate Studies, and aggressively recruited a diverse student body and faculty.”

Powers joins various other UC-Berkeley professors holding the Alumnus of the Year title.