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UT News

In the Know

The Dec. 21 weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

Robert Hutchings appointed dean of LBJ School
Robert L. Hutchings, diplomat in residence at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and former chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council in Washington, D.C., has been appointed dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Provost Steven W. Leslie said Hutchings’ appointment is effective March 22. Hutchings will fill a vacancy created by the departure of James B. Steinberg, dean of the LBJ School since 2006, who became U.S. deputy secretary of state in January.

Professor’s novel is 2010 Mayor’s Book Club selection
Oscar Casares, assistant professor of English, is the author of “Amigoland,” which was announced as the ninth annual selection for the Mayor’s Book Club. The announcement was made at City Hall in downtown Austin. “Amigoland” (2009, Little, Brown), set in a small Mexican border town, is the story of two estranged and aging brothers, Don Fidencio Rosales and Don Celestino. Celestino finds himself involved with his young cleaning woman, Socorro, who becomes a catalyst for the two brothers to reconnect. The improbable trio takes off on a bus trip into Mexico, where the brothers hope to settle a longstanding dispute about a family legend.

Social Work dean named to national academy
Barbara White, dean of the School of Social Work, has been selected as an inaugural board member and fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, a society of scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence in the fields. The academy, formed last month and aided by the Council on Social Work Education, will have a virtual office to be located initially at Case Western Reserve University. White is one of six inaugural fellows.

Professor elected as fellow in science association
Keshav Pingali, professor in the Department of Computer Science, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his efforts to advance science and its applications. Pingali was elected for his distinguished contributions to the “development and application of computer science technologies to enhance the effectiveness of formulating, compiling and executing parallel and distributed programs.”

Press Mentions

The Wall Street Journal: Texas Football Boosters Think Big
Dec. 17
In college football, the most indispensable players are not necessarily star quarterbacks. Sometimes they’re the overeager alumni who write big checks and weigh in from the sidelines. And in that department, nobody can mess with Texas.

The Longhorns, who will take on Alabama next month for the national championship, have what is, hands down, the nation’s biggest, wealthiest and most eccentric collection of college football boosters. While revenue at many big-time college football programs has fallen or stayed flat last season, revenue at the University of Texas — which comes from things like ticket sales and suite rentals — jumped by 20 percent last year to $87.6 million, the most ever generated by a college football program and almost $20 million more than second place Ohio State University pulled in.

Christian Science Monitor: Banks too big to fail? Break ’em up, Congress
Dec. 16
If a financial company is deemed “too big to fail,” the remedy seems simple: Break it up. Make the bank small enough that even if casino-type investments lead to crisis, it will not threaten the entire financial system. And don’t let any financial giant super-size in the future.

Among some liberals…. Their concern is that Congress is too hooked on the financial industry’s political campaign donations. The sums involved are huge.

Campaign contributors can “blackmail the system,” said James Galbraith, an economist at The University of Texas at Austin. The Kanjorski amendment, he notes, allows for judicial review of a breakup proposal, a step that could delay action for years with broad discovery requests, etc. A congressional staffer argues that a court could act only if it finds the measure “imposed in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”

Washington Post: In Texas, a showdown at the GOP corral
Dec. 13
Rick Perry, the state’s swashbuckling Republican governor, says his opponent spends tax dollars too freely. She’s too liberal. She’s too Washington. She doesn’t get what he calls “Texas values.” One might imagine Perry’s opponent to be a Democrat, but she is Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican born, bred and elected, serving her third term casting reliably conservative votes as a U.S. senator.

“You’d have to say he’s hit his stride and clarified his message, and she’s still casting around and trying to define herself,” said Bruce Buchanan, a politics professor at The University of Texas, where an October poll in conjunction with the Texas Tribune showed Perry with a 12-point lead in a race that Hutchison once led by more.

The New York Times: Study Suggests Methods and Timing to Treat Fears
Dec. 9
A new study suggests that doctors can take advantage of the brain’s natural updating process — the way it might soften its impression of, say, pit bulls after seeing a playful one — to treat phobias, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders. In the study, a research team from New York University and The University of Texas created a simple fear in 65 participants: when they saw a colored square appear on a computer screen, they got a slight electrical shock on their wrist about a third of the time — a frequency that creates a lasting association. The next day, sure enough, the sight of the square drew an immediate emotional response, as measured by sensors on the skin.

Read last week’s “In the Know.”