In this podcast, Jacob Kerr and Amanda Voeller discuss the UT System's new investigation into the University's admissions process and a recent Daily Texan story on students denied transfer into the computer science department after they say advisors told them they would be admitted if they had at least a 2.5 GPA. They also talk about a recent package story on student loan debt.

Recorded on July 3, 2014.

CEO of Dimensional David Booth speaks to students in the SAC on Tuesday evening at McCombs’ VIP Distinguished Speaker Series. 

Photo Credit: Mikaela Locklear | Daily Texan Staff

David Booth’s apartment was his first office and a spare bedroom was his first trading room when he founded Dimensional Fund Advisors 32 years ago.

Booth, the company’s CEO, told students in a talk Tuesday that he saw a lot of innovation in the world of finance between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s.

“By the time I got to business school in ‘69, this idea of market efficiency was starting to get developed, and it was a really exciting time,” Booth said. “Chicago was really one of the centers, if not the center, of this new way of thinking about finance … it was just a very exciting time to be in school.”

Booth said his experience at the University of Chicago was transformative, and he enjoyed working side by side with the professors. He said the best piece of advice he received was to go to Chicago rather than work for IBM.

“My attitude was if I want to start a business, it’s really a good idea to get outside financing — if you can’t get outside financing, it probably wasn’t that good of an idea,” Booth said.

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business is named after him.

Booth also said investing in human capital and keeping eyes open for opportunity are important. He said his firm has a strong set of values and a strong academic connection, and plans to open offices in
Tokyo and Singapore. 

The event was hosted by the Undergraduate Business Council as part of its VIP Distinguished Speaker Series.

Finance senior Ross Orlando said he went to the talk because he will be working for Booth in the fall. Orlando said Booth’s perspective was something he enjoyed and will think about.

The CEO also inspired business and computer science freshman Li Cai. Cai said she found the presentation useful because she had never seen a CEO speak, and she wanted to hear about his experiences.

Booth said thinking independently, taking initiative and having a unique distinction are important for business students. He said the worst hires are people who do things because the preceding person did things that way.

“If you have smarter people who work harder, they’ll do a better job,” Booth said.

Published on February 27, 2013 as "Business CEO gives valuable tips". 

The School of Undergraduate Studies will invite UT freshmen to participate in the first in a series of surveys Wednesday meant to identify freshmen struggling with the transition from high school to college.

The surveys, called MAP-Works, are part of a third-party program to improve retention rates by identifying at-risk students, said Patricia Micks, undergraduate studies first-year experience coordinator. Once the program identifies at-risk students, Micks said it will notify the students’ advisors and support staff. The School of Undergraduate Studies, the department funding the survey, estimates it will pay $88,000 based on the freshman class size of 8,100 — the largest yet at UT. Some survey questions are about academics, but others ask about roommates, activities and family issues, Micks said.

“We want to work with the students early on to be sure they feel like the UT community is another home for them,” Micks said. “It’s meant to be an early intervention to help students before they’re in trouble.”

Micks said 98 percent of UT freshmen return after fall semester and 91 percent after spring. She said this rate was good, but if MAP-Works can improve the retention rate by even 1 percent, many students would be affected at a school this size. She said in its six years of use by other universities, the program has improved retention rates by 1 to 10 percent.

“What MAP-Works tries to do is what we already do, and that’s connect students with resources,” Micks said.

Micks said she has been enlisting resident assistants, Freshman Interest Group mentors, undergraduate studies professors and academic advisors to encourage their cohorts to use the optional surveys as tools.

The school pays for every enrolled freshman regardless of participation.

Freshmen Interest Group mentor Ginu Scaria said she plans to point her students toward the survey.

“It’s a good way to connect with students and see how they are doing,” Scaria said. “If there’s a problem you can’t deal with, you are able to send information to someone who can help them in a better way.”

As a PEER mentor, Scaria will not have access to much personal information but can submit reports to advisors and track her students’ survey completion. Scaria said MAP-Works might be more helpful to students who are not in close contact with their mentor.

Heather O’Leary, a principal analyst for Eduventures, a higher education consulting firm, said universities care about identifying struggling students early because administrators have made an investment and want to ensure student success. O’Leary said personal responsibility is important, but struggling students may not be aware of all of the resources available to them.

She said the program would be a good way to make the most of investments UT has already made in student support and to potentially identify gaps in resources.

“I would actually be really interested to see in three or five years down the line the kind of impact this program has on the students and the retention rate overall,” O’Leary said.

Printed on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 as: Surveys aid freshmen in college transition

(Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Brace yourselves — the freshmen are coming.

University officials have spent the summer months preparing for what might be its largest incoming freshman class on record and what could be the second largest overall enrollment in UT history. By adding more sections, lecturers, advisors and First-Year Interest Group programs, or programs that place freshmen into small groups to support their academic performance, University officials said they are confident that the school is ready for the freshmen class.

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions, said estimates for the incoming freshman class are currently around 8,000 students. This is an approximate 900-student increase from last year’s 7,149 students. Currently, the year 2002 holds the title for most first-time enrolled freshmen with 7,935 students enrolled as first-time freshmen and 8,419 students classified as freshmen. The University will not know if it broke its past records until the twelfth class day, when enrollment is officially counted.

“It’s too close to call,” Ishop said in an email, speculating whether this entering freshman class would be the University’s largest. “Our largest prior class was just over 7,900. So it could be.”

Although the University says it is ready for this incoming freshman class, the increased enrollment will place a strain on the University for years to come. Professor William Cunningham, who was president of the University from 1985 to 1992, faced similar issues because of enrollment growth in 1988 when enrollment reached an all-time high. Cunningham compared the problem to a bubble.

“If you have a problem in freshman courses this year, then next year you will have a problem in sophomore courses,” Cunningham said. “So you will have to put some more resources into sophomore courses, but UT officials know that. It’s not rocket science.”

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said the University will have to add sections and redirect resources for years to come. This means for returning students and for all students going forward, officials will continue to add sections and lecturers to various colleges and schools as this freshman class moves through the University.

“The reason you don’t make decisions right now about where to put them is because students generally tend to migrate in lots of general directions,” Laude said.

Laude said he has been involved in conversations with the deans across all of the schools, particularly in the professional schools like business, engineering and communication, about the possibility of expanding.

“As that happens and as they take on those additional students, it will be required that we take the money we have available associated with the increased enrollment and create additional sections in the majors they end up populating,” Laude said.

Among the incoming freshmen, certain colleges and schools have been more heavily impacted. Marc Musick, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said he noticed the largest increases in the School of Undergraduate Studies, the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Fine Arts.

“I handled orientation for the University, so I can see the numbers we’re experiencing across all the colleges,” Musick said. He was appointed to oversee New Student Services and the large changes made in the orientation program by UT President William Powers Jr. in April.

The School of Undergraduate Studies faces more than a 50 percent increase in enrollment — from 900 students last year to approximately 1,400 this year. Initial numbers in the beginning of the summer indicated 1,574 students were planning on attending UGS in the fall, but since then almost 200 students have decided to not attend.

Incoming UGS interim dean Larry Abraham said when the school first heard about the number of incoming students, their initial concern was actually not about the number of classes offered but whether the school had enough advisors. Assistant UGS dean David Spight said the school has hired three new advisors, who will start the second week of August, a few weeks before students arrive.

Abraham said the school was also concerned about whether there would be enough seats in classes.

“There was a panic mode where students were saying there won’t be enough seats. We’ve never had this many students try to take freshman courses, whether they are signature courses or introduction to biology or whatever,” Abraham said. “The University has responded to that.”

In order to respond to both its increased enrollment and the entire school’s increased enrollment, UGS has added more than a total of 1,300 seats in signature courses to the 2012-2013 school year, bringing the total to 11,300. Signature courses, introduced in 2008, are each assigned a unique topic and aim to introduce the student to the University and its resources. The 1,300 additional seats includes the fall, spring and summer semesters. Patricia Micks, UGS senior program coordinator, said about 8,000 of those seats are the fall semester, when UGS hopes a majority of freshmen will take their signature course.

Micks said UGS did a combination of adding new signature courses and increasing the class size of some already-existing signature courses.

“We were very careful. If we’re going to bump any class sizes, we were sure to strategically select professors who really shine in these large classes,” Micks said.

UGS also increased the number of academic FIGs offered within the school from 15 to 24.

In order to pay for this, Abraham said the provost’s office gave UGS approximately $300,000.

Thanks to the funding provided by the Provost’s office, Abraham said UGS has dealt with advising and seating concerns. Spight said the school is now focusing to ensure students can make a smooth transition to their desired school after UGS.

“Our job is to help them find all the options and set them up for success, but in the end the student has to be successful in their courses and the programs have to be willing to say they will take those students,” Spight said. “That concern is going to be a little bit bigger for us this year simply because there are more students that we are worrying about.”

Spight said there has been increased collaboration between UGS and other colleges. For example, of the nine additional FIGs added to UGS, Spight said a few Natural-Sciences-oriented FIGS were added because a large number of students in UGS had selected the College of Natural Sciences as their first choice.

“We tried to make sure the FIGs that we added addressed those areas of interests,” Spight said. “The courses that were associated with those FIGs, whether it be the signature course topics or the other courses in the FIG clusters, we made sure they were along those lines in the sciences.”

In the College of Natural Sciences, freshman enrollment is expected to rise by about 15 percent. Last year, the college had about 1,835 students enroll, and this year it is expecting 2,152 students. Sacha Kopp, associate professor and natural sciences assistant dean, said the college has seen an increase in freshman enrollment in the past three years and this will be the largest class the college has ever seen.

The College of Natural Sciences has added sections and additional seats to prepare for this class, but Kopp said he could not say how many sections and seats were added since the college is still watching the enrollment numbers and is adjusting accordingly. Kopp said the college is not adding these classes just for students in that college.

And in the College of Fine Arts, which houses many of the courses required to fulfill the visual and performing arts undergraduate degree requirements, enrollment is expected to increase by 400 students, or 20 percent. The college has responded by adding several hundred seats to these courses to accommodate non-majors, said Andrew Dell-Antonio, College of Fine Arts associate dean.

Officials from other colleges are on board to prepare the University for this large incoming freshman class, even if their college is not seeing an enrollment increase. For example, Musick said COLA was adding additional sections.

“We serve students in other colleges as well,” Musick said. “Even though it’s not technically liberal arts students, they are UT students and they do need our classes.”

Senior associate dean for academic affairs Richard Flores said the University added 16 new sections in the College of Liberal Arts. The college is in the process of hiring a combination of nine additional lecturers and assistant instructors. The provost’s office provided the College of Liberal Arts with $306,000 in funding for this increase.

The first day of class is Aug. 29. The official enrollment count will be conducted Sept. 14.

Updated 11:24 a.m.: 1,300 seats, not 13,000 seats, were added to the number of signature courses.

Photo Credit: Holly Hansel | Daily Texan Staff

Registration — the word alone is enough to induce a splitting headache in some students, along with the hassles, deadlines and frustratingly closed classes that come along with the process. Although modern technology has certainly removed some of these difficulties, at the end of every semester, students are still faced with the impending battle of getting into their desired classes.

Fortunately, registration doesn’t necessarily have to be a cut-throat battle royale; with this survival guide for what is perhaps the most dreaded two weeks of the spring, this year’s registration may end without tears and bloodshed.

One of the most frequently pondered questions amongst students is the order in which registration times are decided — when you have a friend of the same major or last name letter registering a week before you, the process can often come across as exasperatingly random.

“There is an alpha breakdown,” said Nancy Sutherland, history and liberal arts advisor. “It is based on a simple, yet secret formula created by a registrar sometime in the last century.”

While last name and class year are important factors, the Registrar’s office rotates the order of the names so students whose last name begins with “A” don’t always get to register first in their class.

Similarly, there are frequent misunderstandings when it comes to the specific required courses available for students. For example, unless you want to get certified to teach or you plan to transfer to another university, you can take any two different classes in the approved list of American history core courses – even upper-division ones, according to Sutherland.

The same goes for classes like GOV 312, in which many students feel tied down to taking a specific subject matter.

“Many students that I have advised do not know that the second required Government course, GOV 312L, has topics,” said Linda Mayhew, advising coordinator for the Liberal Arts Honors and Humanities programs. “This gives you a chance to select a topic that really interests you.”

However, sometimes class availability can get a bit trickier. Many students tend to believe that professors have the final say in regards to their class roster and that students can always get their permission to add a class that’s either full or restricted.

“Actually, departments can override faculty preferences,” said Jackie Dana, sociology undergraduate advisor. “We often have to tell students ‘No’ even after they get a written note because we use the waitlist system and check prerequisites.”

In terms of general advice, advisors suggest keeping an eye on your prerequisites and taking advantage of waitlists. Although being last on a long waitlist may appear to be a depressing prospect, with the large number of people who change classes during the add/drop period, it’s not the end of the world, especially for a larger lecture class. However, it also helps to have a backup class just in case.

“It’s also important to realize that sometimes required classes really do max out and advisors don’t always have the authority to add additional students,” Dana said. “We don’t intentionally keep people from graduating.”

And while it may seem a bit obvious, many students aren’t aware of the extended course descriptions available on some departments’ websites.

While the Registrar provides a general overview of what a class entails, course descriptions on the pages of individual departments often offer a more insightful look at what specific classes have to offer.

For example, the English department lists the required readings for the semester alongside a breakdown of professor’s individual grading, and the journalism department allows access to past and present undergraduate course syllabi.

“If you can’t get into a class you need or just really, really want, be sure to ask an advisor for assistance,” Dana said. “But don’t make demands.”

For Sutherland, the number one tip to being prepared for registration is to talk to your advisers ... except during actual registration days. She also advises awareness of the catalog for your major, as each catalog has very different degree requirements, flags and CORE approved courses.

“Advisors are here year-round. Make a plan of action to graduate — even if you change your mind a little,” Sutherland said. “You can still go to advising during registration, but it will just be to touch base or to check on secrets advisors might know, so you won’t be as stressed.”

Printed on Thursday, April 19, 2012 as: Helpful tips for surviving registration