Vice President of Student Affairs

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

New story: Texas Student Media and its entities, including The Daily Texan, are being moved under the domain of the Moody College of Communication, though many questions about the implications of the move remain unanswered.

TSM, the umbrella organization that manages a number of student-produced media properties, including Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan, is currently housed under the Division of Student Affairs and has been under severe financial constraints for the last several years.

Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody college, said he agreed to assume oversight of TSM after President William Powers Jr. asked him personally to do so. Hart said he does not have extensive background knowledge about current TSM operations.

“All I can say is the president called me over to his office. That was it,” Hart said. “I don’t know anything about the TSM Board, or what its procedures are.”

Powers, who is currently in Washington, D.C. for a White House conference on higher-education access for low-income students, was unavailable for comment. 

Although Hart and Gage Paine, vice president of student affairs, attended a TSM board meeting in September to solicit feedback about a potential move to the college, no decisions were made at the meeting, and multiple members of the TSM Board, including board President Dave Player, said they had not been made aware of any part of the negotiation process.

“No one ever contacted me about it from the administration, or from the [Moody college],” Player said. “This is how much they value student input: not at all.”

Player said he was concerned about the lack of detail provided to board members about the implications of the move.

“We want to make sure we preserve the autonomy of the paper,” Player said. “We put a high value on being a student-run publication with student managers — student content decided by students — and we want to make sure that’s preserved.”

Cliff Avery, president of Friends of the Texan, a recently formed alumni group, said his organization was also unaware a decision had been made.

Robert Quigley, journalism senior lecturer and member of the TSM Board, said he was optimistic about the move.

“I want to see [TSM] survive, and I think this is an important step in making that happen,” Quigley said. “I’m under the assumption that the trust will remain relatively intact, that we’ll still have a board and a director and all that. I don’t want to say for sure that one thing’s going to happen over another.”

University spokesman Gary Susswein said Powers is aware there are unanswered questions.

“In terms of finances, and some of the financial questions that have been raised, that still has to be worked out,” Susswein said. “We want UT to be able to maintain the Texan as a strong, independent student newspaper.”

Hart said it was important to recognize the ongoing nature of the situation and the uncertain state of TSM finances. Currently, TSM is without a director, as former director Jalah Goette announced her resignation in December. The University has yet to appoint someone in the interim.

“I really don’t have anybody in my thoughts [to oversee operations] . . . There are just a lot of unknowns,” Hart said. “The president and I both agreed that we have to have a functioning fundraising operation, and that’ll be really helpful. It’s not going to help in the short term, but, in the long term, philanthropy can hopefully become part of the solution for [TSM] . . . It’s something I haven’t really had a chance to get my teeth into. It’s in a very sort of still-working-it-out stage.”

Hart said that, although he had reservations about the move initially, he felt strongly about the work TSM entities do.

“This is not something I lusted for, but I’m a real fan of [TSM], in all its pieces and parts,” Hart said. “If I can be helpful in the process, I will do so. That’s what I told the president. I don’t have any great expertise to bring to it at this moment.” 

Additional reporting by Julia Brouillette, Nicole Cobler, Alyssa Mahoney and Madlin Mekelburg

Original story: Texas Student Media and its properties, including The Daily Texan, are being moved under the domain of the Moody College of Communication, multiple sources inside the college confirmed Wednesday.

TSM is the umbrella organization that manages a number of student-produced media properties, including Cactus Yearbook, The Daily Texan, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV and KVRX 91.7 FM. It is currently housed under the Division of Student Affairs.

The University planned to announce the move on Friday, so sources including administrators and faculty members were unable to confirm the move on the record. Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College, is travelling and did not return multiple requests for comment.

Though Hart and Gage Paine, vice president of student affairs, attended a TSM board meeting in September to solicit feedback about a potential move to the College, no decision was made about moving forward. Multiple members of the TSM board, including TSM board president Dave Player, said they were not informed that negotiations were ongoing, or that a decision was made.

Player said he was taken aback by the decision.

“No one ever contacted me about it from the administration, or from the communication school,” Player said. “This is how much they value student input: not at all.”

Player said he was concerned about the lack of detail provided to board members about the implications of the move.

“We want to make sure we preserve the autonomy of the paper,” Player said. “We put a high value on being a student-run publication with student managers, student content decided by students, and we want to make sure that’s preserved.”

Cliff Avery, president of Friends of the Texan, a recently formed alumni group, said his organization was also unaware a decision had been made.

“In fact, we had a board meeting, a conference call, scheduled for the 24th [of January] to see how we wanted to weigh in on this discussion,” Avery said.

Robert Quigley, journalism senior lecturer and member of the TSM Board, said he was optimistic about the move.

“I want to see [TSM] survive, and I think this is an important step in making that happen,” Quigley said. “I’m under the assumption that the trust will remain relatively intact, that we’ll still have a board and a director and all that. I don’t want to say for sure that one thing’s going to happen over another.”

While an interest in moving to the Moody College has arisen in recent years, TSM’s dire financial circumstances ramped up discussions starting in September. Additionally, TSM director Jalah Goette announced in December that she will be stepping down from her role.

“The communications school has more development officers than the vice president of student affairs had ... the [College] has a team, they’re good at what they do,” Quigley said. “They know how to bring in money.”

Clarification: Dave Player's quote referencing the administration's concern for the students has been clarified since the original publication of this story.

Gage Paine, vice president of Student Affairs, announced Thursday that Jalah Goette will serve as the director of the Texas Student Media board.

The Texas Student Media board represents the various University student media outlets, including The Daily Texan, Texas Student Television, KVRX, the Texas Travesty and the Cactus Yearbook. Previously, UT was prepared to go through a national search for a new director, but after a recommendation from the Texas Student Media board, Paine decided to appoint Goette to the position.

“While this is not the methodology that we typically use to fill a director-level position, I recognize that Texas Student Media has had considerable leadership transition challenges over the last few years,” Paine said in a memorandum to the board.

Goette has served as the interim director since the spring, when Gary Borders, the former Texas Student Media board director, resigned. Borders said his resignation was forced by Juan Gonzalez, former vice president of Student Affairs, because Borders proposed the selling of KVRX and Texas Student Television.

Goette has been with Texas Student Media for six years. Previously, she was the assistant director, where she dealt with Texas Student Media business and advertising.

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Texas Student Media board appoints interim director to permanent position 

Vice president of student affairs, Gage Paine, talks with students at a student outreach event at the Texas Union Monday. Paine has been reaching out to students since this summer via social media like Twitter to get more connected to the campus issues.
Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

In her short time as vice president for student affairs, Gage Paine has taken on a bold goal of meeting all 50,000 UT students and is using Twitter to reach out to students she might not be able to meet in person.

Twitter did not exist 15 years ago when I started in student affairs, and there was barely email when I was at UT,” Paine said. “Social media is the biggest change since then. The methods of communication have changed drastically, but the issues are still the same, and the broader communication methods allow for broader questions and attention to the needs of a more diverse student body.”

Paine is one of the few University administrators who are active on Twitter. Paine said her goal in the first few months is to get reacquainted with the campus and the new issues students face today. She created her new account in July after accepting her position at the University and has gained 504 followers since. Paine posts on Twitter more than 150 times a month.

The UT vice president of student affairs serves more than 50,000 students and oversees the Office of the Dean of Students, University Health Services and Division of Housing and Food Service, among other divisions.

Paine uses social media to promote University initiatives and regularly highlights campus programs on Twitter, including the “What’s on Your Mind” series she created. She has hosted four meet-ups with students this semester aside from her regular meetings with student organizations.

“It allows me to invite students to have a conversation with me and meet some students I might not meet any other way to obtain a more comprehensive view of student life on campus,” she said.

Biology junior Andy Do attended one of Paine’s meet-ups to discuss parking, involvement in student organizations and diversity at UT. Do said Paine’s efforts to reach out and engage with students will not go unnoticed.

“I believe it is important that she is reaching out to students to show that she, along with the University, cares.” he said. “Occasionally, it seems like a one-way street when it comes to the relationship between a student and an administrator or professor. It is invigorating to know that the folks who teach us also care about our well-being.”

Architecture professor Lawrence Speck chaired the search committee who hired Paine. Speck said Paine’s commitment to reach out to students was the prime reason she was recommended for the position.

During a campus-wide evacuation following a bomb threat in September, Paine used her Twitter account to disseminate verified information to students who she said she sees as constitutents.

“The day of the bomb threat, I tweeted what was authorized,” Paine said. “It was the exact, official language, and it was very effective because even in that short period of time I was followed by people with large Twitter networks.”

Paine replaced Juan C. Gonzalez, former vice president of student affairs, after he stepped down from the position earlier this year. Paine’s experience with student affairs includes various administrative positions at Southern Methodist University, Trinity University and UT-San Antonio, where she served as vice president of student affairs overseeing approximately 30,000 students.

Paine said she is currently meeting with University deans and will wrap up the learning stage of her student outreach this semester in order to create specific initiatives she wants to pursue in the future.

Published on October 24, 2012 as: "Administrator tweets to engage with students"

As the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees meets this morning to discuss specific issues regarding the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of director Gary Borders, the organization also faces ongoing repercussions of financial and staffing problems that have accumulated over the past few years.

A budget deficit, falling advertising revenue and recurrent vacancies in critical leadership roles are affecting TSM’s ability to operate. While budget deficits and falling advertising revenue are problems that plague college media nationwide, some problems may have arisen from TSM’s unique structure.

“No other collegiate media entity that I am aware of has a governing board and University reporting [requirement],” said Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president of student affairs and a former interim director of TSM.

A board of operating trustees governs TSM, which is not independent of UT. Its entities include The Daily Texan, TSTV, KVRX 91.7 FM, The Cactus Yearbook and The Texas Travesty, a humor publication. The director of TSM reports to both the vice president of student affairs and the TSM board of trustees. The Declaration of Trust for the organization states an endowment of $5 million would allow TSM to become an independent entity, but unless such an endowment is made, TSM employees are considered employees of the University.

The involvement of the Office of Student Affairs in employment matters has become a source of conflict at TSM in recent days. Borders told the Texan that Juan Gonzalez, the outgoing vice president of student affairs, forced his Feb. 8 resignation after Borders raised the ideas of selling TSM’s television and radio licenses. Gonzalez said he followed policy involving university personnel performance with regard to Borders’ resignation.

Wanda Cash, associate director of the School of Journalism and former TSM board member, said personnel performance issues were previously handled much differently, including when she was on the board.

“If there were performance issues, the vice president of student affairs contacted me, and then in consultation with the president of the board we worked out what had arisen,” Cash said. “This time that did not happen and that’s what is very troubling. The vice president of student affairs acted alone in terminating the director.”

Board member Tim Lott, vice president of audience strategy for the Cox Media Group, said the board was unaware there was a problem with Borders’ performance.

“I literally had no idea there was any sort of problem that could potentially end in a termination,” Lott said.

Borders was the third director TSM had seen in as many years. Kathy McCarty departed TSM in 2009 after serving 15 years. Hammat served as the interim director for nearly two years and participated in one failed search for a replacement until Borders was hired in summer 2011 after a second search. The board will discuss the possibility of appointing a an interim TSM director this morning.

Meanwhile, the search has not yet begun for a replacement for Jennifer Rubin, former multimedia adviser who departed in October 2011 after six months on the job.

Board member Mark Morrison, a lecturer in the journalism school, said it’s imperative a replacement is found quickly.

“We need to establish leadership,” Morrison said.

While facing absent leadership, TSM has a March 19 budget deadline looming. The organization is already facing the effects of a budget deficit.

The 2011-2012 annual budget has a projected $175,252 deficit that draws from the organization’s reserve fund that fell to $723,665.55 in November. Advertising revenue for TSM has declined from $2,326,411 four years ago, to $1,509,839 last year.

Texas Student Television is the only TSM entity budgeted for a profit this year.

The Daily Texan, which accounts for 89 percent of TSM advertising revenue, has seen changes in the three years since it last posted profit.

Since 2009, The Daily Texan has sold its press, outsourced printing and distribution, which resulted in staff layoffs and is making plans to reduce summer print production to once weekly. A second round of layoffs among TSM professional staff followed a reorganization in 2011.

Borders’ claim that he was dismissed because of budget-cutting proposals has led Cash to question the vice president’s role.

“The issue here is: is it right for the Office of Student Affairs to continue oversight as the president’s designee of Texas Student Media?” asked Cash.

Cash said she believes revising the Declaration of Trust to make the dean of the College of Communication the University’s designee to oversee TSM, instead of the office of student affairs, would be a better arrangement than the current one.

“In the College of Communication we have an understanding of journalism,” Cash said. “We have the right sensibility of journalism — of first amendment rights, of freedom of the press and our common disdain for prior restraint and censorship. I’m not sure the office of student affairs shares that sensibility.”

Regardless of who is the university’s designee for oversight of TSM, board president and third-year law student Lindsey Powers said the University needs to remember common courtesy when communicating with the board of trustees.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten how important it is to consult a board,” Powers said.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer for the University, was recently appointed by President William Powers Jr. to investigate the circumstances of Borders’ termination.

Although Hegarty said the board should be granted the courtesy of consultation before terminating employees, he said because the University is the employer of TSM’s employees, Borders was subject to termination by the University. He said the University had more say in TSM’s operations than a yearly performance review.

“The role of the University is to counsel, to coach and to do what it can to support the board of trustees,” Hegarty said.

Hegarty said he hopes University and TSM relations improve after today’s meeting.

“The intent is to be very consultative and to come to solutions that are collaborative and cooperative,” Hegarty said. “Hopefully we can move forward.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Juan González announced that he will no longer serve in an administrative capacity so he can focus on teaching in the College of Education.

According to his email announcement, González held the position for six years and served in the same role at four other universities.

“I plan to take that experience into the classroom to help prepare our next generation of university leaders,” he wrote in the announcement.

González said his favorite part of serving as vice president for Student Affairs has been to witness the four-year process students go through.

“You get to know them well enough to see the transformation. Their energy, their ideas have been just phenomenal,” González said

González said he’s looking forward to being in the classroom because he would like to “help new professionals prepare for their careers.”

For the past five years, González has taught classes for the Higher Education Administration Program in the College of Education.

“I’ve been at the forefront of many, many changes in the field and I’d like to write about those,” González said.