A new book from the University of Texas Press presents more than 200 images taken over 12 years on the set of director Richard Linklater’s critically acclaimed new film, Boyhood.
Boyhood: Twelve Years on Film features photos by Austin-based photographer Matt Lankes, along with commentary by Linklater, actors Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane and others to create a behind-the-scenes portrait of the film. Cathleen Sutherland, a University of Texas at Austin alumna and the film’s producer, also provides commentary.
In 2002, Linklater began filming the “Untitled 12-Year Project.” He cast four actors (Arquette, Hawke, Coltrane and Lorelei Linklater) in the role of a family and filmed them each year over the next dozen years. Seen through the eyes of a young boy in Texas, Boyhood unfolds as the characters—and actors—age and evolve, the boy growing from a soft-faced child into a young man on the brink of his adult life, finding himself as an artist.
Lankes captured the progression of the film and the actors through the lens of a 4x5 camera, creating a series of arresting portraits and behind-the-scenes photographs. His work documents Linklater’s unprecedented narrative that used the real-life passage of years as a key element to the storytelling. Revealing, personal recollections by the actors and filmmakers accompany the photographs.
“Unlike the film, which embodies the passing of time, Matt Lankes’ stills and portraits capture something very different—single moments suspended in time,” Linklater wrote in the foreword. “I have really been looking forward to the day all his work, this long-term photographic project, could be viewed as one collection. I’m so glad this book exists as a gallery of his portraits and a testament to the memories that we created in making Boyhood.”
Lankes is a professional photographer whose clients include Livestrong, HBO, Fox Searchlight, Texas Monthly, Interview, Time Inc., Newsweek, GSD&M, Austin Monthly, Lee Jeans, Random House, Warner Brothers, Cowboys and Indians, Chevrolet, and Pentagram Design. His work is in the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian and the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University.
Screenwriter/filmmaker Richard Linklater has directed 18 feature films, including the indie classic Slacker (1991); the ’70s cult hit Dazed and Confused (1993); the animated feature Waking Life (2001); the hit comedy School of Rock (2003); Fast Food Nation (2006); Bernie (2012); and the critically acclaimed Boyhood (2014). His Before trilogy – Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight – has received many accolades including Academy Award nominations for Before Sunset and Before Midnight, and the Film Critics Choice Louis XIII Genius Award for all three films in 2014. Linklater serves as the artistic director for the Austin Film Society, which he founded in 1985.
The 200-page book will be published November 1. It features 214 color and black and white photos.
The University of Texas Press, founded in 1950, is a scholarly and general interest press that is part of The University of Texas at Austin. For more information on the book, please visit www.utexaspress.com.
AUSTIN, Texas — A research team led by The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded approximately $58 million to analyze deposits of frozen methane under the Gulf of Mexico that hold enormous potential to increase the world’s energy supply.
The grant, one of the largest ever awarded to the university, will allow researchers to advance scientific understanding of methane hydrate, a substance found in abundance beneath the ocean floor and under Arctic permafrost.
The Department of Energy is providing $41,270,609, with the remainder funded by industry and the research partners.
In addition to UT Austin’s Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) at the Jackson School of Geosciences, the study includes researchers from The Ohio State University, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and the U.S. Geological Survey.
"The Department of Energy looks forward to partnering with The University of Texas at Austin and the rest of the project team to plan and execute an outstanding scientific drilling expedition,” said Ray Boswell, program manager at the department's National Energy Technology Laboratory.
Often referred to as “fire and ice” because of its ability to produce a dazzling flame when lit, methane hydrate is an ice-like solid compound that forms in low-temperature and high-pressure environments where molecules of methane, a chief constituent of natural gas, are trapped within a lattice structure of water molecules.
Estimates vary on the amount of energy that could be produced from methane hydrate worldwide, but the potential is huge. In the Gulf of Mexico, where the team will be sampling, there is estimated to be about 7,000 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of methane in sand-dominated reservoirs near the seafloor. That is more than 250 times the amount of natural gas used in the United States in 2013. Hydrates have the potential to contribute to long-term energy security within the United States and abroad. Many large global economies that lack clean and secure energy supplies have potentially enormous hydrate resources.
Methane hydrate is stable under high pressure and low temperatures but separates into gas and water quickly when warmed or depressurized, causing the methane to bubble away. This poses technical and scientific challenges to those working to eventually produce energy from the deep-water deposits.
“The heart of this project is to acquire intact samples so that we can better understand how to produce these deposits,” said Peter Flemings, a professor and UTIG research scientist and the project’s principal investigator.
The four-year project will be the first in the offshore United States to take core samples of methane hydrate from sandstone reservoirs, Flemings said, a delicate task that requires transporting samples from great depths to the surface without depressurizing them.
Carlos Santamarina, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a leading methane hydrate expert, said pressure core sampling is vital to gaining a better scientific understanding of hydrate-bearing sediments.
“The technique is like taking a specimen inside a pressure cooker from thousands of feet below sea level, and bringing it to the surface without ever depressurizing the pressure cooker,” said Santamarina. “With this technology, the sediment preserves its structure and allows us to determine all the engineering properties needed for design.”
It is not currently economically or technically feasible to produce substantial amounts of energy from methane hydrate, but Flemings said that could change as the science improves and world energy demand increases.
“This could be analogous to gas or shale oil 20 or 30 years ago,” he said. “None of us thought we were going to produce any hydrocarbons out of shales then.”
Santamarina said this project is critical for the United States to maintain world leadership in methane hydrate research. Other countries with high energy demands or limited resources — Japan, South Korea, India and China — also have active research programs.
In addition to its enormous potential as an energy resource, methane hydrates may play a role in past and future climate change, and better understanding the marine deposits will further scientific understanding of these processes.
“I think methane hydrates are one of the most fascinating materials on the planet,” Flemings said. “They store energy, they look like ice but burn, they may impact climate, and they may play a role in submarine landslides.”
Santamarina said he believes the right team has been assembled to tackle the complex challenges.
“The best people in the world will be involved in this project,” he said. “It is exceptional that UT is going to lead this effort."
From left, Dealey Herndon, Scott Caven, Karen Nyberg, Matthew McConaughey, Jody Conradt, Earl Campbell, and John Massey. (Photo by Mark Rutkowski)
This past weekend, the Texas Exes and University of Texas honored six alumni with our highest award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and one non-alumnus with the Distinguished Service Award. I’d like to share these short descriptions of their accomplishments. You also can watch the moving videos produced for the event by clicking the links below:
Earl Christian Campbell, BS ’79, Austin
Campbell is one of the greatest running backs to ever play in the National Football League. After becoming the first Longhorn ever to win a Heisman Trophy in 1977, Campbell was the No. 1 draft pick by the Houston Oilers and went on to be named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. In 1981, the legislature named Campbell an Official State Hero of Texas. After retiring from football in 1985, he became a prominent businessman in Austin and later founded Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. He remains actively involved with UT Athletics and was a special assistant to the vice president for student affairs. In 1991, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Watch Earl Campbell’s recipient video here.
H. Scott Caven, Jr., BBA ’64, LLB ’67, Houston
Caven is managing director of Atlantic Trust, a private wealth management firm. He was a member of the UT Board of Regents from 2003-09, including service as chairman from 2007-09. During a 32-year career with Goldman Sachs, Caven was a vice president and a regional manager. A longtime UT advocate, Caven has chaired the UT System Chancellor’s Council and the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council. He is a founding member of the executive committee of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education. He has also chaired the board of directors of the University of Texas Investment Management Company and the Texas Growth Fund board of trustees. Caven is currently a member of the board of trustees for the Texas State History Museum Foundation. Watch Scott Caven’s recipient video here.
Dealey Decherd Herndon, BA ’69, Austin
Herndon was the executive director for the State Preservation Board of Texas from 1991-95, directing the restoration and extension of the Texas State Capitol. After the Texas Governor’s Mansion was nearly destroyed in a 2008 fire, Herndon returned to lead the restoration of the mansion. She is a longtime project manager and historic preservationist who owned the firm of Herndon, Stauch & Associates from 1995-2006, overseeing projects including UT’s ACES Building, the George W. Bush Childhood Home, the Caldwell County Historic Courthouse, and many more. Herndon is a member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Texas Medal of Arts Award. She served on two advisory committees and on the Brackenridge Task Force. Watch Dealey Herndon’s recipient video here.
John H. Massey, LLB ’66, Dallas
Massey is the chairman of the Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds Investment Committee and a member of the Co-Investment Partners Investment Committee. He has been a senior executive and director for many companies, including serving as president of two highly successful companies that were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Massey also served on the boards of seven other publicly held companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He and his wife, Elizabeth Shatto Massey, BS 61, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, are proud natives of Columbus, Texas. They have created endowments at the McCombs School of Business, the School of Law, and the College of Education, as well as three Texas Exes Forty Acres Scholarships. Massey is also the president of the Law School Foundation and a trustee of the University of Texas Foundation. He is a recipient of UT’s Presidential Citation and in 2012 was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. Watch John Massey’s recipient video here.
Matthew David McConaughey, BS ’93, Austin
McConaughey is an Academy Award-winning actor. He has starred in Dazed and Confused, Amistad, Contact, The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won the Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, both for Best Actor. McConaughey is the founder of the just keep livin Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices. He also partnered with Mack Brown and Jack Ingram in founding Mack, Jack, and McConaughey, a joint fundraising effort that benefits children. Watch Matthew McConaughey’s video here.
Karen L. Nyberg, MS ’96, PhD ’98, Houston
Nyberg is a NASA astronaut. She has logged more than 75 million miles and over 180 days in space, including the 123rd shuttle mission in 2008 and a five-month stint on the International Space Station in 2013. Nyberg received a patent in 1994 for a robot-friendly probe and socket assembly she designed while serving as an undergraduate intern at NASA, and her graduate research on the thermoregulation of spacesuits was published in four academic journals. She is the recipient of the Joyce Medalen Society of Women Engineers Award and the University of North Dakota Sioux Award. Watch Karen Nyberg’s recipient video here.
Distinguished Service Award
Jody Conradt, Austin
Conradt was the head coach of the University of Texas’ women’s basketball team from 1976-2007. In her 38-year coaching career, her players won 900 games, and 99 percent of them graduated. Among dozens of other accolades, she was named the National Collegiate Coach of the Year four times and was the second woman inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She helped establish UT’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program, an education outreach group that helps 5,500 disadvantaged Austin children build strong academic futures. Conradt, who also served as women’s athletics director from 1992-2001, is now a special assistant to Women’s Athletics.
After coming in second place last year, a team of McCombs School of Business students won the 2014 Michigan Undergraduate Investment Conference. The Tower will glow orange on Oct. 21 to celebrate this championship.
The winning Longhorn team included Matthew Rindelaub, finance and economics junior, Vishal Bhat, business honors, finance and radio-television-film sophomore, and Connor Ruddick, finance sophomore. All are members of the University Securities Investment Team.
The Michigan conference bills itself as the largest and most prestigious stock pitch competition in the country. Each year, since 2006, the Michigan Interactive Investments student organization invites more than 20 top business schools from across the country to present stock pitches and compete for a $3,000 top prize.
The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, invites applications for its 2015–2016 research fellowships. More than 50 fellowships will be awarded for projects that require substantial onsite use of the Center’s collections, supporting research in all areas of the humanities, including literature, photography, film, art, the performing arts, music and cultural history.
Information about the fellowships and the application process is available online. The deadline for applications, which must be submitted through the Ransom Center's website, is Jan. 15, 2015, at 5 p.m. CDT.
All applicants, with the exception of those applying for dissertation fellowships, must have a Ph.D. or be independent scholars with a substantial record of achievement.
The fellowships range from one to three months, with stipends of $3,000 per month. Also available are $1,200 or $1,700 travel stipends and dissertation fellowships with a $1,500 stipend.
The stipends are funded by endowments and annual sponsors, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship Endowment, the Dorot Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Jewish Studies, the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Photography Fellowship Endowment, the Creekmore and Adele Fath Charitable Foundation, the Robert De Niro Endowed Fund, the Woodward and Bernstein Endowment, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the South Central Modern Language Association, and The University of Texas at Austin’s Office of Graduate Studies, Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies and program in British Studies.
Applicants will be notified of decisions on or before March 31, 2015. Fellowship recipients and their research projects will be listed on the Ransom Center's website.
Since the fellowship program's inauguration in 1990, the Center has supported the research of more than 900 scholars through fellowship awards. In conjunction with the program's 25th anniversary, the Center seeks to raise $25,000 to establish a Fellowship Anniversary Endowment to support the growth of the fellowship program and the next generation of humanities scholars.
UT’s Dell Medical School and Seton Teaching Hospital Lay Foundation for Working Relationship in Affiliation Agreement
A landmark agreement between The University of Texas at Austin and Seton Healthcare Family sets a legal foundation for a new medical school, a new teaching hospital, a health care district in downtown Austin and greater access to health services in Travis County.
The Affiliation Agreement outlines how UT faculty members, residents and students will work, train and learn in clinical and research programs at Seton facilities, including the Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, a new $295 million teaching hospital that Seton is building on UT-owned property across the street from the Dell Medical School.
The new hospital will replace the outdated University Medical Center-Brackenridge, which has been the principal provider of inpatient hospital services for vulnerable low-income and uninsured Travis County residents. The new hospital will house an enhanced replacement for the region’s only adult Level 1 trauma center.
“This landmark agreement paves the way for transformation of The University of Texas at Austin, our community and the future of medicine,” said UT Executive Vice President and Provost Gregory L. Fenves. “We have worked for decades to establish UT as a leader in medical education and research to benefit society. Our partnership with Seton will allow us to extend the university's mission to include the highest quality patient care.”
The Affiliation Agreement ensures that UT Austin and Dell Medical School leaders will maintain complete control over how UT medical students and residents are taught and trained. Seton — a member of the nation’s largest nonprofit health system, Ascension — adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care (ERDs), which limit certain activities within its facilities. The agreement specifies that ERD-prohibited activities will not be conducted at Seton facilities. UT students and residents will receive complete education and training at non-Seton facilities.
Seton, which owns and operates three other teaching hospitals, is building Seton Medical Center at UT entirely with money it either raises or generates, and no funding will be transferred under the Affiliation Agreement, which has an initial term of 25 years, with two automatic 10-year extensions.
“A higher standard of health care, expanded services and greater accessibility for Central Texans is on the horizon,” said Jesús Garza, Seton Healthcare Family president and chief executive officer. “Seton looks forward to building a modern teaching hospital worthy of the world-class Dell Medical School that we are working with UT to develop.”
The Dell Medical School will welcome its first class of students in July 2016. The school is currently under construction at the corner of 15th and Red River streets. The hospital will begin operations in 2017. Faculty members will be compensated by UT Austin for their teaching and research responsibilities, though they may also have arrangements with Seton so they can establish medical practices within or through the teaching hospital and provide care in the community.
“Our goal at the Dell Medical School is to change how medicine is taught and health care is delivered. This Affiliation Agreement helps us to do that,” said Clay Johnston, inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School. “It allows our students and residents to learn — and Travis County residents to be treated — in a state-of-the-art teaching hospital, and it gives our faculty the flexibility and freedom to develop innovative new models of care that will help make Austin a model healthy city.”
The agreement completes a set of contracts between UT Austin, Seton and Central Health, Travis County’s health care district. In setting the legal foundation for a new UT medical school and teaching hospital, the partnerships fulfill key pieces of the 10 Goals in 10 Years that state Sen. Kirk Watson initially proposed in 2011. Voters in Travis County embraced the 10-in-10 Goals in 2012 when they passed a proposition increasing property taxes to support the medical school and a number of other community health care efforts.
“The people of Austin and Travis County voted two years ago for something transformative. With these contracts completed, we can set about the work of really transforming how our neighbors, friends and loved ones live, work and stay healthy,” Watson said. “It’s always been a compelling vision. With this agreement, it’s a step closer to reality.”
For more on the Affiliation Agreement, go to www.utexas.edu/dell-medical-school/partners/ut-austin-seton-affiliation-agreement. You can read the full document at https://utexas.app.box.com/UT-Seton-Affiliation-Agreement.
There’s an old joke about homework. A teacher says to a student, “How do you like doing your homework?” The student responds, “I like doing nothing better.”
With the novelty of the new school year now behind us, it goes without saying that kids would rather be doing just about anything other than homework.
Every fall, the same debates persist: Is homework even effective? How much is best? In what ways should parents be involved? But the problem with homework does not revolve around these questions.
The problem with homework is motivation, or the lack thereof, because the major challenge for making homework an effective tool for learning is that even nothing often seems better.
As a researcher focused on teacher and parent practices that support student achievement, I believe that the call to action is clear: Teachers and parents must focus on motivation to make homework a valuable part of the learning process.
Teachers must put more focus on the quality of the homework. Homework is most effective when it relates to students’ existing interests, is meaningful, and is well suited to kids’ current skills. We are all familiar with this — learning is easier when the task is interesting and seems important to master.
Studies suggest that teachers who use homework to develop students’ motivation and interest in the subject have students who put in greater effort on homework and demonstrate higher achievement.
The homework itself should be short and frequent, not long and few. Every year there is inevitably a news story about overwhelmed fifth-graders who come home with four hours of homework every night.
This always amazes me because we know from research that students learn better and can maintain motivation when they space out their learning and return to it frequently, rather than attempting to learn everything in one long session.
As students become frustrated or bored with an assignment, they reduce their effort, work less effectively, or give up altogether. Assignments should be short and regular.
Structure is important too. Clear expectations and having a routine can maintain motivation.
When students leave class feeling prepared to do their homework and know what teachers and parents expect of them, they feel more competent and positive about homework.
Studies have shown students who have a clearly defined routine around homework — a set time, a set place and a set way to complete homework — are more likely to believe they can overcome challenges while doing homework and take more responsibility for their own learning.
It is critical that teachers and parents explain why even the most boring homework is important. Not all rationales are equal, but explaining how information is used by that doctor or engineer in the real world or how the homework could help the student accomplish personal goals aside from just getting a good grade can help students persist even on boring homework.
Parents should also give their kids a little freedom. When kids struggle with homework, teachers and parents sometimes have an instinct to take control by using commands, incentives, threats or just do homework themselves for their kids. These tactics may work in the short term, but they won’t benefit kids for the long haul.
A better strategy is to help kids feel autonomous by giving them some choice about homework and emphasizing that they should work in their own way.
And finally, feedback. Teachers and parents need to provide feedback about the homework product, not the student. Feedback can be tricky when it comes to motivation because inevitably, no one likes to hear about what they did not do well.
But, whatever teachers and parents say about homework, it needs to be clear that they have confidence that the student can improve with effort and that making mistakes is not only tolerated but is a welcomed part of the learning process.
Motivation plays an integral part in the overall value of homework. The sooner parents and teachers focus on strategies to foster motivation, the better. What should be clear to everyone, though, is that homework can definitely be better than nothing.
Erika A. Patall is an assistant professor of educational psychology in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin.
A version of this op-ed appeared in the Austin American Statesman.
To view more op-eds from Texas Perspectives, click here.
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AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) has received a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to further advance the storm surge predictive simulations that have helped Texas emergency managers develop some of the country’s most successful hurricane evacuation plans.
Speed is essential for disaster planning, and the new simulations will be designed to take advantage of advances in supercomputing to convert large databases of weather and topographical data into storm surge predictions within an hour, half the current time for processing the continually changing data.
Clint Dawson, director of the ICES Computational Hydraulics Group, has been predicting hurricane storm surge for the past 15 years. Using computational methods that detail the location and depth of surges, Dawson and collaborators have helped Texas emergency managers develop hurricane evacuation plans and studied storm surges for every hurricane to strike the United States since the late 1990s.
The current storm surge prediction process relies on feeding hurricane data into a computational program called ADCIRC, which uses high-performance computers to generate data about potential outcomes.
With the $3 million NSF grant, Dawson, a professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics, and collaborators at Louisiana State University, The University of Notre Dame, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are overhauling ADCIRC into a version 2.0 dubbed STORM that’s designed to perform more efficiently across a variety of computer hardware architectures. A goal for STORM is to work twice as fast as ADCIRC, enabling storm surge predictions to be made within an hour of receiving data inputs.
“The idea is how do we keep the program up to date and modernize it for the next generation,” Dawson said.
Since first being developed in the mid-1990s, ADCIRC has been widely used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and academic researchers to simulate and predict water flow in coastal areas of the United States. Storm surge prediction is a popular use for the program, but the governing equations describing fluid flow can be applied to investigate other research questions. During the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, for example, Dawson used ADCIRC to predict oil dispersal paths up to three days in advance.
The four-year grant pairs Dawson and ICES Research Associate Craig Michoski as co-principal investigators. They will work with research collaborators from three other universities: Hartmut Kaiser, LSU; Joannes Westerink, ND; and Richard A. Luettich, UNC-Chapel Hill.
Whatever the fluid flow problem being analyzed, the ADCIRC system works by analyzing the interaction between relatively static elements, such as coastal and undersea topography, and dynamic ones, such as how a hurricane influences water height and water velocity. ADCIRC’s computational algorithms produce a selection of potential scenarios. The most likely prediction is used by emergency response teams. In the case of storm surges, this information informs emergency response and evacuation plans and helps create maps.
The STORM program will maintain the same ADCIRC functionalities but will get a code upgrade with a completely new foundation for its algorithms, Dawson said.
The new will be written in HPX and designed to be flexible and easily integratable with other code types, and adaptable to diverse computer architectures. By rewriting the code using HPX, STORM will not only be able to run more efficiently on today’s super computing systems, but is likely well equipped to handle inevitable changes that will come.
“Where we hope to be in four years is to have a whole new code and a whole new piece of software. And it’s going to be a lot of work but it’s also necessary work if you want to keep your software useful for the next generation,” Dawson said.
At the same time, Dawson says turning ADCIRC into STORM will be an exercise in understanding the history and composition of the original code, which could help in constructing STORM, and other programs in general.
“If you don’t do these kinds of projects you lose all this memory of how you got to this point. We’re really fortunate to have this opportunity to take all the lessons that we learned and to put it into a new piece of software,” Dawson said.
Photos are available on the ICES flickr site.
(From left) Sam Gosling, President Powers, Beth Pomeroy, Doug Bruster, and Oguzhan Bayrak. Not pictured are Peter Stone and John Stanton.
On Wednesday, UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers inducted six new members. I’d like to share a little bit about each of this year’s inductees:
- Oguzhan Bayrak is director of the Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory and holds the Charles Elmer Rowe Fellowship in Engineering. He studies behavior, analysis, and design of reinforced and pre-stressed concrete structures, bridge engineering, evaluation of structures in distress, structural repair, fiber-reinforced polymers, and earthquake engineering.
- Douglas Bruster, the Moody C. Boatwright Regents Professor, is a Shakespeare specialist who also studies modern playwrights like David Mamet and David Hare. His books on Shakespeare and early modern drama include Drama and the Market in the Age of Shakespeare, Quoting Shakespeare, Shakespeare and the Question of Culture, Prologues to Shakespeare’s Theatre, To Be or Not To Be and Shakespeare and the Power of Performance. He taught at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and the University of Paris before coming to UT Austin.
- Samuel Gosling is a personality/social psychologist who researches how people select and craft the environments in which they dwell to suit their personalities; personality or temperament in non-human animals; and online data-collection methods in the behavioral sciences. His research frequently appears in the national and international media.
- Elizabeth Pomeroy is the Bert Kruger Smith Centennial Professor in Social Work and coordinator of our Clinical Social Work Concentration. Her interests include mental health, health and children and families; HIV/AIDS interventions; crime victims; interventions for offenders in the criminal justice system; and clinical social work group interventions for children, adults, and families.
- John Stanton is our George W. Watt Centennial Professor. His research group works in the area of theoretical chemistry. He focuses on developing new theoretical methods and implementing them in computationally efficient computer programs, and applying these and other methods to the solution of interesting chemical and spectroscopic problems.
- Peter Stone is the David Burton Jr. Centennial Professor and founder and director of the Learning Agents Research Group within the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science. His application domains have included robot soccer, autonomous bidding agents, autonomous vehicles, autonomic computing, and social agents.
Members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers are the best of the best. I’m extremely proud of these six and all of our current members.
What starts here changes the world.
Members of the Longhorn Alumni Band pick up where they left off, marching on the field alongside current band members in last year’s Alumni Band performance. Photo by David Wilson.
This year, the Annual Alumni Band Day is Saturday, Oct. 18, and returning members will perform alongside current students in a show highlighting the iconic music and formations made famous during the tenure of Vincent R. DiNino, director of bands emeritus, who died in September.
“Longhorn Band itself is a family,” Moxley says. “We have people from back in the ’30s and ’40s who come to these Alumni Band things. You get to meet people from all different eras.”
The University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band boasts more than 3,000 members in seven countries.
Every year, more than 500 of those alumni return to Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium to perform again as if the eyes of Texas are upon them.
This year, the Annual Alumni Band Day is Saturday, Oct. 18, and returning members will perform alongside current students in a show highlighting the iconic music and formations made famous during the tenure of Vincent R. DiNino, director of bands emeritus, who died in September.
George Moxley, a member of the Longhorn Alumni Band said he’s glad alumni from across the decades are coming together this year to honor DiNino, who “made the Longhorn Band the Showband of the Southwest.”
“Longhorn Band itself is a family,” Moxley says. “We have people from back in the ’30s and ’40s who come to these Alumni Band things. You get to meet people from all different eras.”
Moxley, who played trumpet in the Longhorn Band from 1968 to 1972, says he gets back into formation each year for the annual alumni performance without too much difficulty.
The key to marching in formation, he says, is to “remember where you’re at in the music with where you need to stop. Once you’ve done it that long, it becomes kind of second nature to you,” Moxley says. “We have charts showing us what the formations look like, and we kind of follow the leader.”
Longhorn Band Director Robert Carnochan says he’s always impressed to see how quickly the Alumni Band members warm up for the performances. It only “takes a few hours” before they’re ready to take the field.
“The Alumni Band,” Carnochan says, “is an absolutely show of how important the Longhorn Band is to the members who are a part of it.”
The Alumni Band doesn’t stop supporting the current Longhorn Band when the former students leave the field after annual performances. The group uses an endowment fund to award as much as $50,000 in scholarships to some of the band’s current 381 student members.
“They give back,” Carnochan says of the Alumni Band. “It’s a sign of the great friendships people build.”October 16, 2014
EVENT: Mexico’s round one executive and technical sessions on areas and fields that will be tendered in 2015 for private companies to participate in hydrocarbon exploration and extraction projects, hosted by The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences and the Greater Houston Partnership.
WHEN: 2 to 5:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20.
WHERE: Four Seasons Ballroom (3rd Floor), Four Seasons Hotel Houston, 1300 Lamar St., Houston.
WHO MAY ATTEND: Registered members of the media are invited to attend the executive session from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in the third floor ballroom. Media may not attend the technical session.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Members of the media are invited to a press briefing from 1 to 1:30 p.m. in the Conroe Room on the second floor.
TO REGISTER: There are 25 spots reserved for members of the media. To register, please go to https://mexico-round-one.eventbrite.com
BACKGROUND: Mexico’s historic decision to deregulate the nation’s oil and gas industry will allow private companies to undertake projects in Mexico.
The University of Texas at Austin and the Greater Houston Partnership will be hosting Mexico’s round one executive and technical presentations on oil and gas areas and fields that will be tendered to private companies in 2015.
The round one tender will offer 169 exploration and production blocks and cover a total of 28,500 square kilometers with a potential of more than 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent in cumulative prospective resources, and proven and probable reserves.
Round one will offer foreign and private oil companies the rights to bid on acreage in the Perdido and south Gulf of Mexico deep water areas, onshore Chicontepec Basin, unconventional fields, shallow water and heavy oil fields.
AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin History Professor Denise A. Spellberg has been named the $10,000 grand prize winner of the 2014 University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards for her work “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders.”
The Hamilton Awards are among the highest honors of literary achievement given for UT Austin authors. This year’s winners were announced Wednesday, Oct. 15.
The awards are named for Professor Robert W. Hamilton, the Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair-Emeritus in Law, who served as chair of the board of the University Co-op from 1989 to 2001.
In “Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders” (published by Alfred A. Knopf), Spellberg recounts how a handful of the country’s founders, Jefferson foremost among them, drew upon Enlightenment ideas about the tolerance of Muslims to fashion a practical foundation for governance in America.
Four other UT Austin professors received $3,000 runner-up prizes:
- Desmond F. Lawler — Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering, for his work “Water Quality Engineering: Physical/Chemical Treatment Processes,” co-authored with Mark Benjamin, University of Washington; Published by John Wiley & Sons
- Huaiyin Li — Department of History, for his work “Reinventing Modern China: Imagination and Authenticity in Chinese Historical Writing”; Published by University of Hawaii Press
- Allison E. Lowery — Department of Theatre and Dance, for her work
“Historical Wig Styling: Volumes 1 and 2”; Published by Focal Press/Taylor and Francis Group
- Mark Metzler — Department of Asian Studies, for his work “Capital as Will and Imagination: Schumpeter's Guide to the Postwar Japanese Miracle”; Published by Cornell University Press
The University Co-operative Society also announced winners for its research awards Wednesday.
Luis Caffarelli, professor of mathematics, was awarded the $10,000 Career Research Excellence Award for maintaining a long-term, superior research program. A National Academy of Sciences member, he works on nonlinear partial differential equations and has been honored with such awards as the Bocher Memorial Prize of the American Mathematical Society (A.M.S.) in 1984, the Rolf Schock Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 2005, the Leroy P. Steele Prizes of the A.M.S. for Lifetime Achievement in Mathematics in 2009 and for Seminal Contribution to Research in 2014, and the Wolf Prize in 2012.
Rachael Rawlins, professor in the School of Architecture, was awarded the $5,000 Best Research Paper Award for “Planning for Fracking on the Barnett Shale: Urban Air Pollution, Improving Health Based Regulation, and the Role of Local Governments,” Virginia Environmental Law Journal.
The article undertakes the most comprehensive review and analysis of air quality monitoring, regulation, and health effects assessment on the Barnett Shale and concludes the state may have been too quick to dismiss health concerns.
The Co-op also awarded two $5,000 Creative Research Awards for the first time, thanks to support from the Moody College of Communication, and the School of Architecture and the College of Fine Arts under the leadership of Dean Douglas Dempster.
The winners were Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla of the School of Architecture and Kirk E. Lynn of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Ibarra-Sevilla was nominated for “Mixtec Stonecutting Artistry: 16th Century Ribbed Vaults in Mixteca, Mexico,” an exhibit that showcases three cathedral vaults using a 3-D laser point scanner and printer. Lynn was nominated for his acclaimed plays — both with his theater collective the Rude Mechanicals and as a solo writer — produced across America and abroad.
The University Co-op is a not-for-profit corporation owned by UT Austin students, faculty members and staffers. Since 2000, it has given more than $33 million to the university in gifts, grants and rebates.
Thursday, Oct. 16, is World Food Day and the theme this year is “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.” This is fitting because 500 million of the world’s 570 million farms, or 88 percent, are family owned, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Family farms, the FAO points out, are clearly the best places to look for solutions to hunger, sustainability and biodiversity. And that is exactly what the FAO and other international development organizations are doing: concentrating on helping small-scale farmers — most of which farm on less than 5 acres — especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Texans and other Americans face a set of different challenges.
Americans are not so much hungry as “food insecure,” meaning they’re malnourished because of imbalanced diets, insufficient vitamins or minerals, and the over-consumption of unhealthy foods. Neither are American family farms small and unproductive.
About 96 percent of American farms are family owned and operated, and family farms account for nearly 85 percent of U.S. agricultural production, with “large” and “very large” family farms providing nearly two-thirds of this production. American farms also get a great deal of support from Congress and the USDA.
Still, the FAO is correct: small and midsize farms in the United States receive far less support than larger farms, with more than half of commodity payments going to the 11 percent of farms earning more than $500,000 a year.
They are also far less profitable than the larger farms, with almost all of the small and very small, or “hobby” farms, relying on nonfarm income and midsize farms vanishing, with well more than 100,000 gone over past decade.
Many family farms in the western states are also unsustainable as they drain rivers, dry up reservoirs and pump out ground water at nonreplenishable rates.
Moreover the midsized farms provide more biodiversity, since larger farms are typified by monoculture, with large plantations of single-variety species of corn, soy, cotton and other commodities, whereas smaller farms tend to plant different kinds of crops and raise different kinds of animals.
Yet it’s the midsize family farms that are especially getting squeezed. They don’t have the scale economies that the larger farms do — whether in buying from corporate suppliers, selling power to food companies, and receiving price supports and other subsidies.
And it’s the midsize farms that constitute the mainstay of rural America. Whereas the larger farms are much more likely to have absentee owners and send their profits out of state, midsize family farms buy and spend locally, with resultant multiplier effects of jobs and income then going to local buyers, local hardware and grocery stories, and others.
So the question then becomes, what kind of rural America do we want?
Agricultural studies from several Midwestern states show that consumers in Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan spend of billions on food annually, but nearly all this money and all of the states’ farm production leave their respective states.
An Illinois state task force found that just a 20 percent increase in local food production, processing, and purchasing would spark $20 billion to $30 billion in new economic activity around the state and create thousands of jobs in Illinois.
To promote the diverse kinds of agriculture that would allow a more diverse and interconnected farm system to develop, policymakers in Illinois, Texas, California and other states need to reconsider what kinds of a rural America they want. Americans pride themselves on having a food system run by family farmers, but the truth is that the midsize farm, the backbone of American farming and country living, is less and less of a reality, and that trend will continue.
If Americans seek productive rural areas where midsize farms thrive and where young families can afford to become full-time farmers, state and national leaders both in and out of government must think creatively about how large, interconnected, and more self-sufficient state and regional markets could be developed.
Bartholomew Sparrow is a professor of government at The University of Texas at Austin who studies the history of U.S. foreign relations and teaches classes on the politics of food in America.
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Share this story on Twitter:October 16, 2014
AUSTIN, Texas — A recent $1 million gift to The University of Texas School of Law from Richard and Virginia “Ginni” Mithoff of Houston will support the school’s Pro Bono Program. The gift brings the Mithoffs’ total contributions to the program to $2 million.
By participating in the Pro Bono Program, students increase access to justice and build their professional skills by assisting individuals and communities in need.
The program will be renamed the Richard and Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program to acknowledge the donors who first supported it with an initial $1 million gift at its founding five years ago. The Mithoffs’ recent donation will increase the endowment for the program.
Richard Mithoff earned his J.D. from the School of Law in 1971.
“Richard Mithoff is one of the greatest lawyers in America, and he and his wife, Ginni, are two of the state’s most dedicated and generous philanthropists,” said Ward Farnsworth, dean of the School of Law. “We are deeply fortunate to have their support of our Pro Bono Program; the endowment they are creating to support its work will make an important difference in the lives of thousands of people for many years to come. Having the Mithoff name on the program does honor to their commitments and will be a constant source of pride and inspiration for everyone here at the Law School.”
Since 2009, the Pro Bono Program has grown to include full-time staffers and student scholars. It engages an increasing number of students, faculty members and alumni each year in pro bono work and offers service projects and legal clinics that help hundreds of people across the state.
The expanded endowment for the program will allow it to serve more low-income clients, involve more students and instill in School of Law graduates a commitment to pro bono work that will continue throughout their careers. The Pro Bono Program is a project of the school’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. As a former law clerk for U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, Mithoff was also an early supporter of the Justice Center.
“The Pro Bono Program at the Texas School of Law is one of the finest pro bono programs in the country,” Richard Mithoff said. “Ginni and I are honored to be a part of this program, which not only provides outstanding training to our law students and future lawyers, but also provides very valuable legal assistance to those most in need. We are very proud of the overwhelming participation by students and faculty.”
Before graduating from the School of Law, Richard Mithoff received his bachelor of business administration from UT Austin. In 1974 he went into practice with legendary trial attorney and 1952 School of Law alumnus Joe Jamail. In 2005, he established the Mithoff Law Firm, which is focused on general civil litigation.
He currently serves on the University of Texas Law School Foundation and has endowed a series of scholarships at his alma mater, including a Presidential Scholarship in law for educationally, socially and culturally disadvantaged students.
Ginni Mithoff received her B.S. in elementary education from UT Austin and serves on the University of Texas Development Board and the University of Texas Health Science Center Development Board.
“I’m delighted the UT law school’s Pro Bono Program is being named for Richard and Ginni Mithoff,” said University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, who is also a former dean of the School of Law. “Increasing access to justice by serving those in need is an important value we need to instill in every UT law student. Through the Mithoffs’ generosity, we can now do that even better.”
Every year on an autumn evening, several hundred Longhorns gather to celebrate a group of their most accomplished peers. The Texas Exes’ annual Distinguished Alumnus Awards ceremony is the biggest event of the year around these parts, and this year it promises to be even more spectacular than usual.
The 2014 recipients of the Association’s highest honor come from many walks of life. They are legendary athlete Earl Campbell, Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, former regent H. Scott Caven Jr., astronaut Karen Nyberg, historic preservationist Dealey Decherd Herndon and education champion John H. Massey.
Record-breaking basketball coach Jody Conradt will also receive the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor given to an individual who did not attend UT.
The honorees will receive the award in an Oct. 17 ceremony at the LBJ Library.
The Tower will glow orange with “100″ lit up on the shaft on Oct. 16 to commemorate the School of Journalism‘s centennial year.
Since its founding in 1914, the School of Journalism has trained more than 12,000 journalists in top-ranked undergraduate and graduate programs, and was selected as one of 12 journalism schools to participate in the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education.
In 2012, the School introduced a new digital-based undergraduate curriculum and moved into the state-of-the-art, 120,000-square-foot Belo Center for New Media.
Journalism Centennial FundCelebrate the School of Journalism’s 100th anniversary with a gift to the Centennial Fund.
The school counts many renowned journalists and national leaders among its alumni, including Walter Cronkite, Lady Bird Johnson, Liz Carpenter, Bill Moyers and Admiral William McRaven, as well as multiple Pulitzer Prize winners.
Visit the school’s Centennial Celebration website to learn about events related to the anniversary, new student learning initiatives, award-winning faculty and alumni, and to see a timeline of the school’s history.
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Longhorn Band members take on this challenge each week during football season. They’ve got to know not only the music in every halftime program but precisely where they need to march, turn and stand to form a giant TEXAS or Longhorn silhouette or even an airplane — all without missing a note.
The key to knowing your location in a formation, as it turns out, is seeing the field as a grid and knowing how to march in specific “step sizes” while playing music. These fundamental skills are imparted to band members before they even arrive on the Forty Acres.
“They’re trained when they’re in high school to know all of these varying step sizes,” says Robert Carnochan, director of the Longhorn Band, which is based in the Butler School of Music. “This gets drilled into them for four years straight.”
Carnochan says Texas high schools have the best bands in the country, giving students a strong knowledge foundation when they arrive here. Even some complicated aspects, like using the “eight-to-five” stride — taking eight marching steps for every five yards — are second nature to the band members.Instead of seeing the field with changing yard lines, the students divide it into a grid by different step sizes and can seamlessly shift between eight-to-five, the 30-inch stride of six-to-five and other step sizes. Photo by Jerry Hayes Photography.
Point to any spot on the field — even places between hash marks and yard lines — and the student performers can say how many steps that spot is from the closest markings.Each member of the marching band has a dot sheet to help them know where they’re supposed to be on the field. Photo by Nicholas Persac.
To stay on course, Jason Anthraper, an electrical engineering senior who plays tuba, says he focuses on the music and, in his mind, pairs the band’s sound and his upcoming notes with the shifting formations. Anthraper, who also serves as a section leader in the band, says breaking the football field into a grid helps the marchers stay on track.
To bridge the students’ backgrounds with newly created formations and show designs, the marchers use “dot sheets,” or slips of paper about the size of a business card, to know where to be and when.
The sheets appear cryptic, with longitude and latitude like codes communicating the shifting formations to those who can decipher the plan. Erin McAtee, a senior studying biology and Spanish who plays piccolo in the Longhorn Band, says using “dot sheets” helps members visualize how an individual part fits into the whole show.
“Some people are going to be more technical with it,” says McAtee, who is also president of The Longhorn Band Student Association and serves as a section leader. “But we all put in a lot of memorization.”
Watch and listen to Band director Robert Carnochan explain the complex formations performed in November of 2012 in honor of Veterans’ Day.
The source of those coordinates and dot sheets is a computer program developed by a Longhorn Band alumnus. Pyware is the industry standard for collegiate marching bands across the country. Py Kolb, the creator, majored in computer science at UT during the late 1970s and played trombone in the band.
Kolb’s Pyware software helped band directors evolve from the large graphing paper they previously used to individually plot marchers in slightly shifting formations, page after page — like a cartoon flipbook.
When Anthony Marinello, Longhorn Band assistant director, arrived at the university in 2009, he wanted to make the iconic Longhorns silhouette logo sharper and snazzier. He spent three days using Pyware to meticulously plot where band members start and shaping how the logo’s outline should form. That refreshed formation is now part of the band’s iconic repertoire.Before Pyware software existed, Longhorn Band director Vincent DiNino charted formations on graph paper. Image courtesy of the Briscoe Center for American History.
As new formations come and go with passing shows, one constant remains as the band’s signature and crowning formation: Wall-to-Wall Band.
“I love seeing the band end zone to end zone and sideline to sideline,” Carnochan says. “The band looks gigantic, and it just represents Texas so well because everything is bigger in Texas.”
[Watch a slideshow of photos from the Cactus yearbook of the Longhorn Band through the years.]
That traditional formation began in the 1950s under the reign of one of Longhorn Band’s most beloved leaders, Vincent R. DiNino, director of the Longhorn Band from 1955 to 1975. (DiNino died in September and will be honored during halftime on Oct. 18 and at a memorial celebration on Oct. 19. See sidebar below for more information.)
“Wall-to-Wall is really our signature,” Carnochan says. “If another band did that, people would say, ‘You guys stole that from Texas.’”The iconic Wall-to-Wall Band formation. This year, 381 students are members of Longhorn Band, and 95 percent of the band’s members are from Texas. Among the entire band, 84 students are studying engineering, while 47 are music majors. The other most common degree paths among band members include biology (34), business (22) and computer science (22). Photo by Jerry Hayes Photography.
During a recent rehearsal in “The Bubble” (aka, the Denius Indoor Practice Facility), band members march in sharp lines, taking even strides while forming shifting shapes. But instead of donning the famous western-style, burnt orange uniforms, the students wear T-shirts and gym shorts in arrays of colors and sport carpenters’ fanny packs stuffed with sheet music and marching directions.
Carnochan walks among the students signaling for the lines to be straighter, Marinello and Scott Hanna, the band’s associate director, watch for imperfections from a platform that gives him a vantage point comparable to some stadium seats, and a team of graduate students stands on ladders and watches from the sideline, policing for even the slightest missteps.
“Instruments are up. Feet are together. Make this better,” instructs Marinello, watching the rehearsal from the platform. “Same thing,” he commands.
“Same thing, mo’ betta!” the band shouts in response. Then the performers return to starting positions and start the drill over from the top.The Longhorn Band rehearses in “The Bubble.” The undergraduate members have a lot of influence over the music being played and a show theme, but creating for formations is typically left to the band’s faculty and graduate students. Photo by Jerry Hayes Photography.
These formal rehearsals are only part of the practice students put into being a member of the Longhorn Band. Between full-band practices, tests with section leaders and practicing in free time, the students expect to put in at least 10 hours of practice every week on top of the 11 or 12 hours required for every home game.
Though personal strengths vary among the band’s 381 members, many agree playing the music is harder than the marching, mainly because of the large quantity of the music, the tunes’ complexities and the perfection expected by the band’s student and faculty leaders.
J. J. Vernon, an electrical engineering junior who plays tuba, says marching and making the formations is “like riding a bike.” With a little patience, members can pick up new formations with ease.
“You have to put one foot in front of the other,” Vernon says.Legendary Director DiNino to be Honored Oct. 19
The University of Texas at Austin family will honor the life of Vincent R. DiNino, director of bands emeritus, who passed earlier this year, during a memorial service Sunday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. in the Bass Concert Hall on campus. The Tower will glow orange with a “D” on the shaft to honor DiNino that evening.
DiNino, who served as director of the Longhorn Band from 1955 to 1975 and then as director of bands until 1985, helped push the band to its current heights.
He oversaw some of the band’s most recognizable traditions, from the “Wall-to-Wall Band” and “Script Texas” formations and playing March Grandioso, to Big Bertha’s presence and wearing western-style burnt orange uniforms.
DiNino also opened the band to both women and minorities, and he touched the lives of thousands of students during his tenure.
“He didn’t wait to be told what to do,” says Robert Carnochan, the Longhorn Band’s director. “He went ahead and did what he knew was the right thing.”
Share this story on Twitter:October 16, 2014
When we were in Dallas on a recruiting visit last week as word of the first Ebola patient in the United States hit the news, we reacted as many other people did — we told jokes.
Every cough or sneeze was greeted with a comment about whether it was time to call an ambulance or head to the emergency room. We walked by that large statue of an eyeball in downtown and stood around it checking to make sure it was not bleeding.
Why is it so natural to greet serious news about a potential public health nightmare with humor? Because it lets us think about it.
A stream of research in social psychology says that our ability to think about death holds the key to understanding this reaction. Something called terror management theory starts with the assumption that humans are most likely the only species on Earth that can contemplate mortality. Because we can think about the fact that some day we will die, each of us needs to find strategies to deal with the fear that comes along with that knowledge.
So why does gallows humor work with so many people?
First, it creates a little bit of positive feeling. Lots of research demonstrates that your mood influences the memories you recall and the interpretation of events around you. If you are sad, you remember sad things, and you find the saddest way to understand events.
When you are anxious, you think about other times in your life when you were afraid, and you focus on the scary elements of the world. These negative moods will perpetuate themselves.
By joking about death, you lighten the mood. It allows you to remember positive times in your life and to experience hope. Humor breaks the potentially vicious cycle of fear that can ultimately be paralyzing.
Second, the fear of death is rooted in the knowledge that death is bad. After death, we will cease to exist. By joking about death, we minimize its importance. Death could not possibly be that important if we can ridicule it. By making death seem less important, at least in the moment, we lessen its impact as a source of anxiety.
There are many ways people react to thoughts about death. Some people cling more tightly to their culture or their religious beliefs, because of the knowledge that the culture will outlive them as individuals. Those people who react by focusing on culture and religion also increase their sense of moral outrage when people do things that violate their cultural or religious beliefs.
This also explains why some people get so offended by gallows humor. In the face of an event like the Ebola outbreak, everyone is forced to think about his or her own death. Some people react by telling jokes.
Those people whose reaction to threats is to take refuge in culture, however, can interpret jokes as a sign that people are not recognizing the seriousness of the situation. They react with outrage that someone would even contemplate joking at such an important time.
So is it “right” that we make jokes about situations like an Ebola outbreak? Maybe, maybe not. But we all must recognize that there are many ways that people deal with the knowledge that someday each of us will die. Laughing in the face of death is just one way that we feel alive even in the worst of circumstances.
Art Markman is the Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of psychology and marketing at The University of Texas at Austin and founding director of the Human Dimensions of Organizations program. He is author of “Smart Thinking and Smart Change.”
A version of this op-ed appeared in the Dallas Morning News.
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Share this story on Twitter:October 13, 2014
Clapper, Hadley, McRaven to Address Intelligence Reform at Event Hosted by Clements Center and Strauss Center
EVENT: “Intelligence Reform and Counterterrorism after a Decade: Are We Smarter and Safer?” featuring addresses by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and former commander of the United States Special Operations Command Adm. William McRaven. Adm. McRaven will open the conference on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 4 p.m. at the Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium, followed by remarks by Director Clapper at 5 p.m. The conference is hosted by the William P. Clements, Jr. Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft and the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin.
WHEN: Oct. 16-18 (Thursday-Saturday)
WHO MAY ATTEND: The conference is open to the public, but seating is limited. The full list of conference participants, schedule and registration information can be found here.
MEDIA: The conference is open to the media. Media check-in and set-up will begin on Thursday, Oct. 16, at 3 p.m. at the Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium. Please register for media credentials here.
A livestream of the conference can be viewed at
BACKGROUND: It has been a decade since the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 ushered in a sweeping reorganization of the U.S. intelligence community, creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center. In partnership with the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, the Clements Center and Strauss Center will host the multiday conference to examine lessons that have been learned and the challenges that lie ahead.
Other participants include prominent practitioners, policymakers and scholars, including
- U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security
- U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Amarillo), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
- John McLaughlin, former acting director of Central Intelligence
- John Negroponte and Michael McConnell, former directors of National Intelligence
- Matt Olsen, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center
- Adm. Bob Inman, former director of the National Security Agency
- David Shedd, acting director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
This conference is an initiative of the Intelligence Studies Project, a collaboration of the Clements Center and Strauss Center to bring together scholars, policymakers and intelligence officials to explore the past, present and future of intelligence work. This includes workshops conducted with the National Security Agency, the National Intelligence Council and senior intelligence and counterterrorism officials.
AUSTIN, Texas — Retired state District Judge Harley Clark of Austin, a venerated Texas Ex who became a part of Longhorn lore by introducing the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign at a University of Texas pep rally during the 1950s, died Thursday at the age of 78.
He passed away at his beloved farm near Dripping Springs, Texas, where he was able to spend the last months of his life surrounded by books, dogs, family and friends.
“Apart from Judge Clark’s role in helping establish a UT tradition, he was a longtime supporter of the university in other important ways, including contributing to our legal defense in the Hopwood case and volunteering his time. We’ll miss his good-natured presence on our campus,” said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin.
The Hopwood v. Texas case involved the university’s use of race as one of several factors in its admissions process.
"Today, Texas Exes mourn the passing of a man who embodied the spirit of our beloved university," said former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, president of the Texas Exes, the university’s alumni organization. “Harley Clark introduced the Hook 'em Horns hand sign, a symbol of Longhorn pride that is recognized and shared around the globe. His love and dedication to UT Austin will never be forgotten.”
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. at The Etter-Harbin Alumni Center on campus. The center is located at 2110 San Jacinto Boulevard. The services, open to the public, will be followed by a burial at the Texas State Cemetery, located at 909 Navasota Street.
Clark earned a bachelor of arts degree from the university in 1957, a master of arts degree in 1960 and a law degree in 1962.
He became a successful trial lawyer in the 1960s and 1970s before Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed him to be a judge for the state’s 250th Judicial District Court in 1977. His most notable decision was in the Edgewood lndependent School District case in 1987. He ruled that the state’s system of financing public schools violated the Texas Constitution because of its funding disparities between property rich and property poor school districts. The decision was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court, 9-0.
After resigning from the court in 1989, Clark spent 10 years working in the Austin office of the law firm Vinson & Elkins.
He then took up gardening a 40-acre organic plot near Dripping Springs. The garden produced gourmet-quality vegetables and herbs for area restaurants.
In a 2007 interview for Texas Gardener, Clark noted a similarity between the size of the farm and the original acreage of the university, saying, “I figure if 40 acres is big enough to start a university, it’s big enough to start a farm!”
Through the years, Clark maintained close ties to The University of Texas at Austin. Since about 1998, he was a special guest nearly every year at Gone To Texas celebrations in front of the Tower. The ceremony is held the night before the first day of each fall semester to welcome new students and share the history of Longhorn traditions. Students always listened intently and responded with enthusiastic applause as they joined him in proudly waving the “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign toward the heavens.
Clark, who was the university’s head cheerleader in 1955 and student body president in 1957-58, publicly introduced the now-famous “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign at the suggestion of classmate Henry “HK” Pitts, who had noticed that, as a shadow figure, it resembled a longhorn, the university’s mascot.
The introduction came during a rally in Gregory Gym the day before the big University of Texas vs. Texas Christian University game in 1955. Clark demonstrated the sign to the crowd and declared, “This is the official hand sign of the University of Texas, to be used whenever and wherever Longhorns gather.”
Clark often related that after the rally, Arno Nowotny, the dean of student life, was very upset and asked Clark whether he was aware of what that sign might mean in another part of the world such as Sicily.
Clark said his response was, “Dean, you need to look on the bright side of things. Instead of our mascot being a longhorn, it could’ve been a unicorn.”
The day after the rally, Clark went to the football field before kickoff and saw that many of the students were flashing the hand gesture. By the end of the game, other people in the stands, nonstudents, also were doing it. A tradition was born.
Clark is survived by his wife Patti Clark; daughter Cari Clark and her husband, Mike Valigura; daughter Paige Suffredini and her husband, John Suffredini; daughter Jeneffer Allen and her husband, Cal Allen; and his youngest daughter, Teel Mayo Clark. Harley had five grandchildren: Clark Schwab, Thomas Schwab, Hannah Valigura, Abbey Allen and Sophia Suffredini.