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UT News

In the Know

The March 10 weekly roundup of campus kudos and press mentions.

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Campus Kudos

University of Texas Press wins excellence award
University of Texas Press, a division of the Office of the Provost, has received a PROSE award for excellence in professional and scholarly publishing from the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP) Professional and Scholarly Publishing division for a book published in 2009. The AAP is the principal trade association of the United States’ book publishing industry, representing publishers throughout the United States.

Stephen Monti announces plans to retire Aug. 31
Stephen A. Monti, executive vice provost, has announced plans to retire Aug. 31 after having worked at the institution 43 years as a faculty member and administrator. As executive vice provost since 1998, Monti has advised the provost in the areas of academic program administration, institutional policy and procedures, and resource management. Monti, who joined the university in 1967 as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has worked in several administrative roles during his career at the university. He was appointed assistant to the president in 1974 by interim President Lorene Rogers and through the years has held administrative positions as an associate vice president and vice provost. He also has held titles of provost ad interim and interim executive vice president and provost.

Daniel Slesnick named vice provost for resource management
Daniel T. Slesnick, associate dean for research and technology in the College of Liberal Arts, has been appointed the university’s vice provost for resource management. Provost Steven Leslie said Slesnick would fill a position that will become vacant Aug. 31, the date on which Executive Vice Provost Stephen Monti plans to retire. Slesnick’s duties will include budgeting, faculty and research commitments, space, and policy development and application.

McCombs ranks No. 10 in BusinessWeek’s undergrad rankings
For the third year in a row, the McCombs School of Business claimed the No. 10 position in BusinessWeek’s annual undergraduate business school rankings. McCombs is the fourth highest ranked public school and the No. 1 public four-year program. Notre Dame (Mendoza) took the top spot overall. McCombs ranks fifth in student satisfaction and received an A+, the highest score possible, in teaching quality, job placement and facilities and services.

UT Elementary School CEO accepts new position with AISD
Ramona Treviño, the chief executive officer and founding principal of the UT Elementary School, has been named chief academic officer for the Austin Independent School District (AISD). Treviño will begin her new job March 29. The Chief Academic Officer (CAO) serves as the instructional leader for the district, providing leadership, assistance and supervision for curriculum, bilingual education and special education. The CAO will direct the operation, planning, development and administration of all programs supporting students’ academic achievement and also serves as a member of the Superintendent’s Senior Cabinet.

Press Mentions

The New York Times: Bringing new understanding to the director’s cut
March 1

Just in time for Oscar junkies, comes a new statistical mincing of the movies that may someday yield an award category of its own: best fit between a movie’s tempo and the natural rhythms of the brain.

Reporting in the journal Psychological Science, James E. Cutting of Cornell University and his colleagues described their discovery that Hollywood filmmakers, whether they know it or not, have become steadily more adroit at shaping basic movie structure to match the pulsatile, half-smooth, half-raggedy way we attend to the world around us.

Why our attention flits about in a pulsatile fashion that resembles heart beats and star beats and the fluctuating pitches of speech, nobody can say. “It depends on whether you think it’s telling you something very deep about the general organizational principles of natural systems, or not,” said David L. Gilden, a professor of psychology at of The University of Texas. “They tend to migrate to the point where they are partially ordered, partially disordered. They’re at the melting point between order and disorder.”

TIME: How Rick Perry turned around the battle for Texas
March 2

Washington has always been bad in the eyes of Texas, but more so nowadays than ever. And so the Lone Star State’s governor, Rick Perry, wrapped up his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination with an ad that played several times on the final night of the Olympics just to make that point. In front of a large Texas flag, he opened with the simple statement: “Washington is broken.” And exhibit No. 1 of how bad Washington had become in his eyes? Fellow Texan Kay Bailey Hutchison, the senior U.S. Senator who was once the prohibitive favorite to succeed Perry in Austin.

Hutchison has said her work for Texas in bringing home funds for the state should be “celebrated and appreciated,” but Perry has tapped the zeitgeist and run an astute campaign, according to James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin.

While Hutchison avoided primary challenges and subsequent conflict with primary voters thanks, in great part, to the power of incumbency, Perry has cultivated the conservative right ever since switching to the Republican Party as a state legislator in 1989. He also tuned into the Tea Party movement long before others sensed its influence, Henson says.

BusinessWeek: Frank asks Bernanke to probe Fed on Watergate, Iraq
March 3

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank asked Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke to investigate allegations of Fed involvement in the Watergate scandal and Iraqi weapons purchases in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to a 2008 book “Deception and Abuse at the Fed” by University of Texas Professor Robert D. Auerbach, then-Fed Chairman Arthur Burns tried to block lawmakers’ probes into the source of $6,300 found on the burglars of the Democratic National Committee’s offices in Washington’s Watergate complex in 1972. Burns, who served as Fed chief from 1970 to 1978, died in 1987.

Auerbach worked for Henry Gonzalez, a former chairman of the House committee who died in 2000 and investigated the sale of U.S. arms to Iraq in the 1980s, before the Gulf War. Gonzalez said the Fed and other agencies initially tried to block his probe, according to a 1992 New York Times article.

Forbes: Perry defeats Hutchison in Texas GOP primary
March 3

Riding a wave of growing anti-Washington anger, Texas Gov. Rick Perry easily dispatched Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and a challenger backed by some in the tea party movement Tuesday to once again become the Republican nominee for the state’s top office.

Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at The University of Texas at Austin, said Perry’s campaign “honed in on where the Republican election was and defined Hutchison in a way that she couldn’t escape on the other.”

“She never recovered,” Henson said. “Her campaign never managed an effective response … and the timing turned out to be horrible for her.”

The Wall Street Journal: New national math, English standards drafted
March 10

Math and English instruction moved a step closer to uniform and more rigorous standards Wednesday as draft new national guidelines were released.

Supporters of the project led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers hope the lists of things kids should learn at each grade level will replace a patchwork of systems across the country. The effort is expected to lead to standardization of textbooks and testing and make learning easier for students who move from state to state.

Texas and Alaska are the only states not participating in the national standards effort and Texas also opted out of the federal Race to the Top competition for $4.35 billion for education reform.

Cathy Seeley, senior fellow at the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas, has been involved in the revision of math standards in more than a dozen states. She saw a lot of similarity between the recent state revisions and the national plan.

Seeley, who plans to participate in the public comment period, said she doesn’t think making kids learn things earlier translates into higher standards. “It’s not that they’re learning it well but too late. It’s that they’re not learning it well,” she said.

Read last week’s In the Know.