vice president

McRaven appoints UT System deputy, vice chancellor

Former UT vice president and provost Steven Leslie and UT Dallas president David Daniel will join the UT System as administrators, Chancellor William McRaven announced Wednesday.

Beginning May 11, Leslie will serve as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Daniel will join the System July 1 as deputy chancellor and chief operating officer, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Leslie, currently a professor and researcher in UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy, served as provost and executive vice president from 2007 until 2013.

“There are many ambitious initiatives already underway that are bound to have national and even international impact, and I am thrilled to join Chancellor McRaven as we work to position The University of Texas System as the undisputed finest public university system in the world,” Leslie said in the statement.

Leslie will succeed executive vice chancellor Pedro Reyes, who announced in April that he planned to leave the System and return to teaching.

Daniel, a UT alumnus, has served as president of UT Dallas since 2005. During his presidency, UT Dallas has seen increased enrollment and graduation rates, according to the statement.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology,” McRaven said in the statement. “Everything he has done as president of UT Dallas prepares him for this new role, and now the entire UT System will be a beneficiary of his leadership.”

The System will immidiately begin a national search for the next UT Dallas president, according to the statement.

One of President William Powers Jr.’s central goals for his presidency was to achieve a 70 percent four-year graduation rate. While the goal has not yet been reached, Powers said the University has made “tremendous progress.”
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

On this week's episode of the Daily Texan NewsCast we discuss President Powers' record on improving graduation rates, the Jefferson Davis statue being vandalized, potential changes to the Hazlewood exemption, Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu's platform goals, and rising rent prices in Austin.

Rotnofsky and Mandalapu make executive board and PSAC selections

Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu have selected candidates for executive board and members of the President's Student Advisory Council.

According to Rotnofsky, he and Mandalapu received 105 applications and conducted over 30 hours of interviews before filling the jobs. The board and PSAC members will be appointed at an SG meeting Tuesday.

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  • Their selections:
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  • Chief of Staff: Taral Patel 
  • Communications Director: Thomas Mylott
  • Internal Finance Director: Nicole Chu
  • External Finance Director: Conner Patrick
  • Administrative Director: Amber Magee
  • PSAC: Zachary Stone and Christle Nwora  

Patel and Patrick served as University-wide representatives last term, while Magee was the director of the Diversity and Inclusion Agency. Stone also currently serves on the Judicial Court.

Patel and Magee were both workers on the Braydon Jones-Kimia Dargahi Executive Alliance campaign. Jones and Dargahi lost to Rotnofsky and Mandalapu in a runoff. Patrick was also an agent on the Jones-Dargahi campaign. 

Student Government Executive Alliance candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu filed a resolution to SG on Friday supporting the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue on campus.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

In its last Assembly meeting of the term, Student Government passed four resolutions, including a resolution supporting the removal of the statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis from campus.

“It goes without saying that [Davis’] legacy continues to affect us today,” Vice President-elect Rohit Mandalapu said. “This statue serves as a permanent reminder of the atrocities committed against fellow humans.”

The issue primarily garnered attention after Mandalapu and SG President-elect Xavier Rotnofsky made the statue’s removal a platform point during their campaign. The University has never taken action regarding the statue, which has been surrounded by controversy in recent years. Rotnofsky said the statue should be removed and students should be able to pick another statue to take Jefferson Davis’ place. 

“We still see the unrest and the negative campus climate [the statue] causes,” Rotnofsky said. “As Larry Faulkner, former president, suggested, let’s put him in the Bob Bullock Museum, where history is preserved.” 

A nearly unanimous vote approved the resolution. 

The Assembly also passed resolutions in support of allowing UT System student regents to have voting privileges and in support of recognizing a Texas Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Assembly lastly voted on a resolution in support of the Texas Dream Act, a law that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at universities.  

The Assembly tabled one heavily debated piece of legislation — a resolution supporting the creation of a pamphlet, which outlines many instances of racism in the University’s history. The pamphlet is not yet complete, but some Assembly members expressed concern over the content of the pamphlet, which would be distributed in each course with a cultural diversity flag.

“[The pamphlet] incentivizes students to make negative opinions on their University based on what we see here,” engineering representative Edward Banner said. ”They should love their University, and I think this is the exact opposite.”

Magee said the pamphlet’s purpose should be to educate students about race issues at UT — not to boost student opinion of the University. 

“The students that are oppressed and marginalized deal with [discrimination] on a daily basis,” said Amber Magee, director of the Diversity and Inclusion Agency. “I think that we are doing a good job, and we’re doing better than we were 75 years ago, but we are not there yet.”

Several Assembly members expressed concern about voting on the pamphlet before its content was finalized, prompting the Assembly to table the legislation. However, because Tuesday was the last Assembly meeting of the semester, the bill will likely be resubmitted to Assembly during the next term, instead of being sent back to committee. 

Current President Kori Rady’s and Vice President Taylor Strickland’s term ends April 7th, and Rotnofsky and Mandalapu will be inducted the same day. 

The SG 108th Assembly passed more than 35 resolutions during the 2014–2015 term.

Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

Following a few weeks of campaigning within the Senate of College Councils, the Senate appointed members to the 2015–2016 executive board Thursday night.

Rachel Osterloh won the presidential race; Meagan Abel was elected vice president; Grace Zhang was elected financial director.

Osterloh, a government junior who is currently president of the Liberal Arts Council, was elected president with 10 votes out of a total 14 votes cast. Three voting members abstained.

Osterloh said she hopes to reach out to students across the University during her time as president.

“I want to ensure that all students have the opportunity to be heard by Senate and know that they have advocates that will fight for them and their interests,” Osterloh said.

Osterloh’s goals include fostering conversations regarding gender equity, making transcripts more easily accessible online and updating the registrar.    

Abel, an English senior and this year’s administrative director, said she hopes to make a real impact on campus as vice president.

“Let’s cut the bullshit; let’s get to work,” Abel said. “I truly believe that this year we can do some real good for this campus.”

Abel said one of her platform points is making undergraduate research a more viable possibility for students. She also said she wants to form more connections between the other legislative student organizations, SG and Graduate Student Assembly.

“In the past couple of years, the LSOs haven’t done a lot together,” Abel said. “I’d really like to sit down … and see how all of our interests intersect and see how we can further our goals.”

The position of financial director went to Grace Zhang, a freshman currently serving as Fine Arts Council’s development coordinator. Zhang’s freshman status prompted questions about her ability to serve as financial director.  

Fine Arts financial director Dan Molina said although Zhang lacks substantive experience, he believes Zhang will be effective in her position.

“She shows a lot of potential,” Molina said in the meeting. “She shows she can do the work and put in the work. Whether or not she’s actually qualified, that’s up to [the voters] to decide. But at the end of the day, if she’s not qualified now, by the end of the summer, she has three months to grasp [her] position … She shows all the signs of being a good financial director.”

Zhang was voted financial director with 13 votes.  

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle, who were running as a Student Government Executive Alliance team, said Sunday they are planning to withdraw from the election, though their names will still appear on the ballot.

Morrison, who was running for SG president, said he and Normyle, who was running for vice president, mutually decided to withdraw from the race because of the time commitment of campaigning. Morrison said he and Normyle learned valuable lessons from the time they spent in the campaign process.

“This whole election process has been a lot of fun and a crazy learning experience for Matthew and me,” Morrison said in a statement to The Daily Texan. “But in the course of the campaign, a lot of things fell to the way side, like schoolwork and other organizations we’re a part of. As great as it’s been, we’ve got to honor our existing commitments and admit we’ve stretched ourselves too thin … We wish all the candidates good luck with the rest of their campaigns and hope for a big turnout on Wednesday.”

Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Election Supervisory Board Chair Nick Molina said the two have not yet sent an official letter of withdrawal from the race. If Morrison and Normyle send in a signed letter, they will then be officially out of the Executive Alliance race. Even if they formally withdraw, their names will still appear on the ballot, because Friday to have names removed, Molina said. 

“As of right now, they’re still in the race,” Molina said. 

If they hope to endorse another Executive Alliance, Morrison and Normyle cannot formally do so until they officially send their withdrawal to the Election Supervisory Board. 

Morrison and Normyle’s platform centered around a “Happy Campus Initiative,” which pushed for therapy puppies, more eco-friendly water bottle fillers and more live music on campus. Their platform also included expanding Freshman Leadership Organization and Camp Texas, as well as implementing a service project after Round Up, an annual weekend of music and festivities hosted by the Greek community.

Morrison and Normyle’s Facebook page, Baylor Matthew 2015, had 404 likes at the time of publication. In an online poll hosted by the Daily Texan Opinion section, Morrison and Normyle totaled 3 percent of the roughly 5,000 votes. 

Kimia Dargahi, who is running for vice president, said she is not sure how the withdrawal will affect the race. 

“I can’t predict how it’s going to affect the race,” Dargahi said. “I honestly did not know how they were doing and how they were campaigning. Social media, and even The Daily Texan poll, can be misleading at times.”

David Maly, who is running for president, said he is also unsure how the withdrawal will affect the race. 

“I thought they were good guys,” Maly said. “I don’t know how much support they had; I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

For Executive Alliance candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu the withdrawal came out of left field. 

“It was a surprise, because we, Rohit and I, would cross paths with them at different speaking events, and they seemed very into the race,” Rotnofsky said. “It did come out of nowhere.”  

The three remaining executive alliances — Braydon Jones and Dargahi, Maly and Stephen Svatek, and Rotnofsky and Mandalapu — will participate in a debate The Daily Texan will host Monday at 7 p.m. in the Union Ballroom.

Student Government President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland are currently halfway through their terms.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

With half of their year-long terms behind them, Student Government President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland said they hope to use their remaining time in office to extend and perfect the initiatives they implemented in the fall semester. 

In the fall, SG members authored a resolution in support of having the Flawn Academic Center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This semester, Rady said the FAC will retain extended opening hours, but cut back slightly to 24 hours a day, five days a week. 

“The plan is to work with [the FAC] to take away 24/7 because Fridays and Saturdays weren’t getting that heavy of usage,” Rady said. “We’re meeting with a roundtable group in the next couple of weeks, I hope, but I don’t want to make any promises. We hope that it’ll be back this semester, as it was
quite successful.”

Cherry Chau, human biology and chemical engineering junior, said she uses the FAC to study late at night because of its proximity to West Campus, but a change from last semester’s 24/7 policy would not interfere with her study habits.  

“Until finals come, people don’t really study on Fridays anyway,” Chau said. “If the [FAC] was open Sunday through Thursday, that would be good. I wouldn’t mind the reduction.”

Rady said the Student Services Budget Committee, a collective effort between SG, Graduate Student Assembly and faculty members, approved $52,000 in additional funding to continue Safe Ride, a student driving service that provides users with rides home from downtown Austin. The additional funds will double the size of the program, Rady said.

“We served over 3,000 students overall [last semester] and gave them rides home for free, preventing drinking and driving and giving them another option to be safe while enjoying the experience that is college,” Rady said.   

Strickland said SG will continue to plan Upperclassmen Shadowing Day, a goal Rady and Strickland introduced in their original campaign platform in spring 2014. The event would pair freshmen with seniors, with the hope that seniors can provide advice about the major selection process. Students will be able to attend classes with their senior counterpart.

“We really like that students have engaged us,” Strickland said. “A lot of things we’ve done have been from students’ recommendations and things that students really want to see. We just want to keep that going … and make this the campus [students] want to be on.”

Rady said SG will push to make student IDs an acceptable form of voter ID, and work to plan a unified student tailgate before football games. Strickland said she hopes last semester’s changes will remain in effect after her tenure ends.

“We’re going to be fighting until the end,” Strickland said. “Nothing is dead in our eyes. We’re going to be pushing for all of our platform points, so we’re really excited to see things develop.”  

Student Government President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland released an update Monday on their accomplishments since taking office. 

The address, which is available to view on the Texas Student Television YouTube channel, clocks in at just under two minutes but packs a potent, if at times misdirected, punch. The pair start by boasting about their accomplishments with increased branding on campus. As Strickland gleefully puts it, they want to make sure “you see burnt orange everywhere on campus.” 

This seems like a waste of time to us. School spirit for these two is the name of the game, but leading with it is an imprudent use of the University’s time and money when there are more important issues to tackle.

Luckily, the two get to some of these issues in due course. From their dilettantish dalliance with campus color coordination, Rady segues into a worthier account of their time in office. He outlines the successes of SafeRide, a program that has offered 1,200 rides home from downtown to students living in the Riverside and West Campus neighborhoods, though not the Far West neighborhood, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights since its launch in early September. We support the pair’s moves to decrease drunk driving from Sixth Street and are glad to see them sharing the good news with the student body. 

Safety is another issue the executive alliance has focused on. Strickland mentions a “mobile safety app” in the works that they hope we will see “very, very soon.” Rady told the Texan Tuesday that the exact design and features of the app have yet to be finalized, but our interest is certainly piqued. 

Rady closes by trumpeting what is perhaps their most impressive accomplishment yet: the 24-hour FAC. As we have chronicled in the Texan, this hard-fought achievement will offer students yet another space to study late at night. The Perry-Castañeda Library currently stays open for 24 hours, five days a week during select parts of the semester. However, we recognize that the demands of essays, projects and exams extend beyond the bounds of the middle of the semester.

All in all, the update covers a number of important issues. What concerns us, however, is the way in which they have chosen to present their successes. By leading with branding, we feel that Rady and Strickland may have misplaced some of their priorities. We don’t disdain their attempts to energize the student body but find it slightly vexing that they placed the greatest importance on that particular item. While Rady and Strickland are doing the important work we expected of them when we endorsed them in February, we worry that they may be valuing show over substance. 

Vance Roper was elected vice president of the Graduate Student Association on Tuesday. Roper hopes to improve graduate housing options and increase participation in GSA.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

Brian Wilkey, Graduate Student Assembly president, appointed architecture graduate student Vance Roper as the organization’s vice president Tuesday after having the seat vacant since August.

On Aug. 21, David Villarreal stepped down as GSA president, making Wilkey president and leaving the organization without a vice president. Since becoming president, Wilkey has been searching for his replacement.

Wilkey said he sent out emails and made announcements to the graduate student body, and two people expressed interest in being GSA vice president. Out of the two applicants, Wilkey said Roper was the best candidate.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the assembly unanimously voted to instate Roper as vice president, moving him from his previous position as legislative affairs director. 

“In our conversation, I believe he very much shares the vision of what the GSA should be working on this year and working towards,” Wilkey said. “More importantly, he’s got a long-term mindset about what we will do this year and what will be beneficial down the road.”

According to Roper, his experience as legislative affairs director, in which he helped form resolutions aimed at graduate students, has helped to prepare him for the position.

“When the position opened, I felt I had the qualifications and the desire to step in and make this a really successful year for Graduate Student Assembly and for graduate students on the campus itself,” Roper said.

Roper said some of his platforms include improving graduate student housing options and increasing participation in GSA. Roper said he hopes to use his public policy background to encourage robust debate and participation among members.

“I’m also going to try and have a very engaged assembly throughout the entire session,” Roper said. “We had a lot of turnout, and we expect a bigger turnout as time goes on.”

Ropers’ appointment left the legislative affairs director position open. Wilkey said he made the executive decision to appoint Sharla Chamberlain, former election supervisory board member and director of Invest in Texas — a student initiative focused on voicing student concerns to the Texas Legislature.

“It went through more of an appointment process based on what was allowable in the constitution, in the interest of time,” Chamberlain said. “I was a member of the election supervisory board, so I got a good view into all of the candidates and into how the electoral process works.”

Wilkey said he expects a smooth transition into the adjusted executive board.

“A lot has remained really unchanged, and it’s just a different name on the card,” Wilkey said.

David Villarreal stepped down as Graduate Student Assembly president five months into his term. Brian Wilkey, Villarreal's vice president, is now serving as president

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

David Villarreal has stepped down as Graduate Student Assembly president five months into his term, according to an email from the organization Tuesday.

With Villarreal’s decision, Vice President Brian Wilkey was promoted to the presidency. In the email, Wilkey wrote that Villarreal approached him Aug. 21, saying he had made the decision to leave the office.

“[Villarreal] is pursuing his own goals right now, and we totally support this,” Wilkey said in an interview. “None of us come to graduate school at UT-Austin, or anywhere for that matter, to be the president or vice president of the graduate student body. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here for our academics.”

Wilkey said he was surprised by Villarreal’s decision. 

“This is always a possibility when you sign up to be vice president,” Wilkey said. “You hope it’s not because, obviously, [Villarreal] and I ran together, and I thought he was doing a wonderful job.”

Wilkey said the platform goals started under Villarreal will remain unchanged, including the creation of an academic database for graduate students, reconstructing GSA’s governing documents and various health initiatives. 

“Better treatment, better housing and a more efficient GSA — those things are all going to happen regardless of me being in charge or [Villarreal] being in charge,” Wilkey said.

Since Villarreal’s decision, Wilkey said he has been learning the duties of the president and getting updated on Villarreal’s work with different committees over the summer.

According to Wilkey, as the vice president, he had little interaction with projects in their beginning stages. He said his job was to review the end product, but now, as president, he is working more directly with
GSA members.

“What is really happening is I’m listening to my executive members talk about what they have been working with [Villarreal] on over the summer,” Wilkey said.

Jennifer Jendrzey, director of the communications committee, said she and other executive members of GSA have been meeting with Wilkey and are confident in his abilities as president.

“The executive committee and the GSA worked together really closely already, so this transition to [Wilkey] taking leadership has been pretty seamless,” Jendrzey said. “We’re confident that the rest of the year will go really well.”

According to the GSA constitution, when a president steps down, the vice president takes over his role and is required to appoint a new vice president, who must then be approved by a two-thirds majority of the assembly. The candidate can be appointed internally or externally from GSA.

“It’s an appointment process, so [the assembly has] all the right to ask the appointee all the questions they want,” Wilkey said. “And if they choose otherwise, I’m back to the drawing board.”

Wilkey said the vice president position will be filled by Sept. 16 — the day of the first GSA meeting — at the earliest. 

“I do not believe there is a shortage of qualified candidates on this campus,” Wilkey said.

Phone calls and emails to Villarreal were not returned.