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UT News

In the Know

The Jan. 11 weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Press Mentions

The New York Times: From Battlefield to Ivy League, on the G.I. Bill
Jan. 8

Cameron Baker, an undergraduate at Columbia University, made a point of wearing a “Coalition Forces” t-shirt at the start of the fall semester. Baker, 26, really was among the coalition forces, having done back-to-back deployments to Iraq with the Air Force and three more years there with a private contractor. He wore the shirt to quietly broadcast his involvement in Iraq, alerting professors and classmates to tread lightly should the conversation turn to war.

More than 300,000 veterans and their dependents are enrolled in American institutions of higher education, their numbers swelling as a result of a new, more generous version of the G.I. Bill that Congress passed in 2008. The veterans and their federal benefits are being embraced by community colleges and huge campuses like The University of Texas, as well as by online schools like the University of Phoenix.

At The University of Texas, where the number of veterans rose to 606 this fall from 419 a year earlier largely because of the new G.I. Bill, officials have moved to streamline information about benefits and services by creating a single Web page. LaToya Hill, assistant dean of students, has pressed the university to hire a full-time veteran services coordinator, although given the economic climate, that is unlikely to happen this year, she said.

The New York Times: Using a Virus’s Knack for Mutating to Wipe it Out
Jan. 4

Evolution is a virus’s secret weapon. The virus can rapidly slip on new disguises to evade our immune systems, and it can become resistant to antiviral drugs. But some scientists are turning the virus’s secret weapon against it. They hope to cure infections by forcing viruses to evolve their way to extinction. Viruses can evolve because of the mistakes they make when they replicate. All living things can mutate, but viruses are especially prone to these genetic errors. In fact, some species of viruses mutate hundreds of thousands of times faster than we do.

But if a virus’s rate of mutation gets too high, mathematical studies suggest, it will suffer. “Most mutations are bad,” said Claus O. Wilke, an evolutionary biologist at The University of Texas. “And so by increasing the amount of mutations, you can decrease the number of good offspring.”

ESPN/Associated Press: Spokesman: Obama called UT’s Brown
Jan. 9

A Texas spokesman says President Barack Obama called Longhorns coach Mack Brown to congratulate him on the team’s season that ended with a 37-21 loss to Alabama in the BCS championship game. Obama first met Brown and the Longhorns in 2008 when the then-Senator from Illinois was on campus to debate challenger Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic primary. The president told Brown on Saturday he was disappointed for quarterback Colt McCoy that he was unable to play after injuring his shoulder on the Longhorns’ first drive. Obama called Alabama coach Nick Saban on Friday to congratulate him on the Crimson Tide’s title.

Campus Kudos

Three faculty members recognized for scientific achievements

Drs. Doug Burger and Stephen Keckler


Three faculty members received 2010 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas at its annual conference. The O’Donnell Awards were established to recognize and promote outstanding scientific achievements of the state’s most promising researchers. Doug Burger and Stephen Keckler, faculty in the Department of Computer Science, received a 2010 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering for their pioneering work in computer science. S.V. Sreenivasan, professor and the Thornton Centennial Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received the O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation.

Professor named Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano
Professor of Piano Anton Nel has been named to the recently established Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano in the Butler School of Music. The chair, announced in July 2009, was established through a $1 million endowment from the Longs with the goal of assuring a permanent presence of top international talent on the university’s piano faculty. Nel is a highly decorated international performer and well-known member of the Austin arts community. He joined the Music faculty in the 1980s and has been a professor of piano since 2000.

Law professor chosen by American Law Institute for special project

Alan S. Rau


Alan S. Rau, one of the nation’s leading experts on arbitration and Burg Family Professor of Law at the School of Law, has been appointed an adviser on an important new project of the American Law Institute to draft a Restatement of the U.S. Law of International Commercial Arbitration. The project underscores the need to bring clarity and consistency to a complex field of law that is subject to the intersection of many different bodies of law — common law, legislation, and international conventions — and has become recognized worldwide as a resource in the resolution of international commercial disputes.

Law Alumni Association recognizes distinguished alums
The Law Alumni Association announced the recipients of its 2010 distinguished alumni awards. Gary R. Gurwitz, ’59, received the Honorary Order of the Coif; Mark L. Hart Jr., ’68, received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Mike A. Myers, ’63, received the Distinguished Alumnus Award for Community Service; and the Honorable Diane P. Wood, ’75, received the Outstanding Alumnus Award.

Eleven Fulbright Scholar grants awarded by U.S. Dept. of State
Ten faculty members and one doctoral candidate have been awarded Fulbright Scholar grants, awarded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. About 1,250 U.S. faculty and professionals received Fulbright Scholar or Fulbright Specialist grants to teach and conduct research abroad.