• UTPD chief Robert Dahlstrom says bomb-threat investigations will continue

    After a day's worth of increased security presence on campus, UTPD chief of police Robert Dahlstrom said investigations into Wednesday's non-specific bomb threat will continue for the next several days.

    “The increase in officers that you will see is standard protocol,” Dahlstrom said. “We will be monitoring buildings more closely than normally, 24 hours a day really. All that means is if you're studying at two in the morning, don't be shocked if an officer checking that building out.”

    The threat prompted a campus-wide safety alert urging the campus community to report suspicious activity. Dahlstrom said several reports were made, all of which were cleared by police.

    “An hour ago we had a report of a suspicious package and it turned out to be someone's gym bag,” Dahlstrom said. “That's exactly what we want people to call in-- something out of the ordinary, something that wasn't there yesterday or has been sitting there for a while or looks abandoned... use your common sense.”

    Dahlstrom said the anonymous individual who made the threat has not been apprehended. 

    "We're certainly still trying to find out who did it," Dahlstrom said. "We're still working that end of it." 

    Authorities are asking the campus community to remain vigilant. Suspicious activity or unusual objects should be reported to UTPD at 512-471-4771.

  • Texas Senate passes bill limiting boards of regents’ power

    The Texas Senate approved a bill Thursday to limit the powers university boards of regents have over individual institutions within university systems.

    State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, and Senate Higher Education Committee chairman, filed the bill in response to the UT System Board of Regents’ alleged micromanagement of UT, specifically of UT President William Powers Jr.

    The House of Representatives must now vote on the bill, which would limit regents from “interfering” in the daily operations of universities under their purview. It would also prohibit regents who were appointed when the Legislature is not in session from voting until regents have appeared before the Senate Nominations Committee.

    The bill’s passage comes hours after the UT System Board of Regents voted to disclose information requested by lawmakers and to allow the Texas Attorney General’s Office to conduct an investigation into the UT Law School Foundation’s relationship with UT.

    At their March 20 meeting, regents voted 4-3 to conduct an external investigation into the foundation, which awarded a $500,000 forgivable loan to Larry Sager, then-dean of the School of Law. In 2011, Powers asked Sager to resign as dean, and Sager still holds a faculty position at the University. An internal review of the foundation conducted by UT System general counsel Barry Burgdorf, who submitted his resignation last month, found the loan was awarded inappropriately. The Texas Attorney General’s office largely concurred with the findings of the report.

    Lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, showed disdain for the regents’ decision and interpreted it as part of an effort to criticize or oust Powers. In a March 27 letter signed by 18 senators sent to Board Chairman Gene Powell, legislators suggested that regents use the Texas Attorney General’s Office to conduct the “unnecessary probe.”

  • UT senior Jordan Metoyer receives Truman Scholarship

    Jordan Metoyer, an economics and urban studies senior, is one of 62 students nationwide to become a Truman Scholar, Wednesday.

    The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Fund awards select college juniors up to $30,000 to support graduate study and leadership training as well as spur careers in government, the nonprofit sectors or education. More than 900 students applied and Metoyer was one of two finalists from UT. Metoyer is a third year student, but a senior by credit hours.

    “Looking at my personal experiences, my academic interests and what I hope to accomplish, the Truman scholarship will give me the tools and a network that I need to ensure social mobility for everyone,” Metoyer said. “This is an incredible honor.”

    Metoyer said she hopes to impact local politics and wants to study public policy at the graduate level.

    “I’m going to look at the issues that are at the nexus of poverty, education and affordable housing,” Metoyer said. “Growing up I saw how low income families were disproportionately affected by predatory home loans and the financial crisis of 2008, including my family.”

    The foundation was established by the U.S. Congress in 1975, in honor of the country’s thirty-third president. Since then, 2,906 scholars have been selected.

    This article was corrected after its original posting. Metoyer is a third-year student but a senior by credit hours.

  • Gretchen Ritter, vice provost and government professor, leaving UT, heading to Cornell

    Gretchen Ritter, UT government professor and vice provost for undergraduate education, is leaving the University for a new position at Cornell University.

    According to a press release from Cornell University, Ritter will serve as the school's 21st dean of Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. Ritter is the latest administrator to leave an open leadership position, following Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie's announcement to step down in February. Leslie is staying at UT, however, while Ritter is not.

    Ritter will be the first woman dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

    At UT, Ritter is known for directing UT's Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and more recently steering the Course Transformation Program, an initative that aims to improve large, entry level classes. She also co-authored the final report of a Gender Equity Task Force from 2008, which identified nine categories of gender equity issues on campus.

    In a press release from Cornell University, Ritter said she is excited for her new position.

    "I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve as the next dean of this great college. Cornell is a special place – as I know from my years of having been a student there," Ritter said. "I look forward to working with the college's extraordinary students, faculty and alumni in making a great college even stronger in the years to come."