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UT News

In the Know

The Feb. 15 weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

Hogg Foundation hires policy expert and operations manager
Colleen Horton, an expert in state and federal disability policies, and Kimberly Zabaneh, an experienced operations and human resources manager, joined the staff of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in January 2010. As a program officer, Horton will lead the foundation’s mental health policy unit and manage policy-related grants and activities. Zabaneh will oversee the foundation’s daily operations and support functions in the newly created position of operations manager.

New department to focus on African and African Diaspora Studies
The university has created a new academic department devoted to studying the experiences of African Americans, indigenous Africans and people of African descent around the world and an affiliated institute that will focus on urban policy. The Department of African and African Diaspora Studies was formally established by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board in November and is preparing to hire faculty and offer courses and degrees by the fall. The department will work closely with the new Institute for Critical Urban Policy, which has been created with the support of members of the Texas legislature. University alumnus Joe Jamail has made a gift of $1 million to fund an endowed chair in the department.

Gifts support Comal county students at McCombs School of Business
The Herbert and Johanna Liebscher Foundation of New Braunfels, Texas, has awarded a $150,000 gift to the McCombs School of Business to provide scholarships for students of Comal County, where the foundation is headquartered, to attend the McCombs School. The donation will be doubled to $300,000 as a part of the Red McCombs Matching Gift Program. These gifts will bring the total value of donations since 2003 to the McCombs School’s Herbert and Johanna Liebscher Endowed Scholarship Fund in Business to $450,000.

LBJ School welcomes new professors for spring 2010
The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs is welcoming new visiting and adjunct professors to the classroom for the spring semester. Several members of the LBJ School community are teaching courses at the school for the first time. Visiting and adjunct professors who will be teaching courses for the spring semester include: Robin Doughty, professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment; Ambassador Karen Hughes, former under secretary of state for public diplomacy; and William Ruger, research fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Texas State University.

Press Mentions

The New York Times: Let your heart or coach guide you
Feb. 12

It’s Valentine’s Day, and the pressure is on for men everywhere to step up their game — and not just the single ones. Those who are married or in long-term relationships are advised to revisit and refresh many of the skills they once used on the dating scene.

David M. Buss, a professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, and the author of “The Evolution of Desire,” wrote in an e-mail message that eye contact and a steady gaze signal self-confidence, “which is one of the personality traits women find most sexually attractive.”

Buss cited a study that he said “brought women and men into the lab, and instructed these total strangers to lock eyes for two minutes without breaking eye contact and without speaking or doing anything else. Many women reported actually falling in love with the person.”

CNN: What your heart and brain are doing when you’re in love
Feb. 12

Poets, novelists and songwriters have described it in countless turns of phrase, but at the level of biology, love is all about chemicals.

Although the physiology of romantic love has not been extensively studied, scientists can trace the symptoms of deep attraction to their logical sources.

“Part of the whole attraction process is strongly linked to physiological arousal as a whole,” said Timothy Loving (his real name), assistant professor of human ecology at The University of Texas at Austin. “Typically, that’s going to start with things like increased heart rate, sweatiness and so on.”

The New York Times: Terrorism fight creates battle over prosecution
Feb. 11

The Dec. 25 arrest of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner, has reignited an old argument over how to treat terrorism suspects.

Robert M. Chesney, an expert on national security law at The University of Texas, said the attacks on the Obama administration’s handling of Mr. Abdulmutallab were “mired in misinformation, some of it willful.”

Chesney said the Republicans were largely to blame for what he called “a bizarre public discussion that is 90 percent politics and 10 percent substance,” since they never complained when the Bush administration handled terrorism cases the same way. But he said the Obama administration might have invited the attacks by itself applying partisan spin to security.

The Wall Street Journal: Did I get married too young?
Feb. 11

When my very smart and relatively young girlfriend (she was then 20) first told her father she was thinking of marrying me, he refused to even hear of it. She sobbed, he came around, and in May 2009 Amber and I became husband and wife, when I was 22 and she was 21.

Social scientists frequently note that “early marriage” is the No. 1 predictor of divorce. So what’s a young couple, in love and committed, to do? Was our decision to marry in our early 20s shortsighted and irresponsible?

A recent study by family scholars at The University of Texas finds that people who wed between the ages of 22 and 25, and remained married to those spouses, went on to experience the happiest marriages. While the authors caution against suggesting that 22 to 25 is the optimal marrying age for everyone, their finding does suggest that “little or nothing is likely to be gained by deliberately delaying marriage beyond the mid twenties.”

The Washington Post: The courts’ shifting rules on Guantanamo detainees
Feb. 5

Opinion by Benjamin Wittes and Robert Chesney

One judge rules that a detainee’s statements to his military review tribunal are tainted by past coercion — and orders him released. Within days, another judge rules that a detainee’s statements to the same sort of tribunal are not tainted, despite similar abuse — and affirms his detention.

One judge rules that to justify a detention, the government must prove that a detainee poses a future threat — and orders freed a Guantanamo Bay detainee who acknowledges a past relationship with al-Qaeda but has cooperated with authorities since his capture.

Another judge rules that a detainee need not pose a future danger and permits the continued detention of a man whose future threat he describes as a “ludicrous” prospect.

Read last week’s In the Know.