University of Texas at Austin students who have enrolled since the university launched its efforts to increase four-year graduation rates are taking more classes, passing at higher rates and dropping out at a lower rate than their predecessors, President Bill Powers said today.
"We have significant work left to do, but we are moving the needle," Powers said in his annual State of the University address to students, faculty members, staffers, alumni and friends of the university.
Powers, who will become chair of the Association of American Universities next month, described a robust vision for the future of the public research university in general — and UT Austin in particular — that remains dedicated to excellence and in which "B+ is our biggest enemy."
At a time of rapid change in higher education, Powers emphasized that the university will continue to develop new technologies that improve learning. It will also maintain the foundations of offering a residential college experience to students and giving individual departments and professors the freedom to innovate and excel without rigid, top-down edicts.
"Overall campus greatness will continue to be a product of excellence in the basic organic units of teaching and research, so we need to continue to empower those departments and units,” Powers said.
As part of those efforts, he pledged to continue identifying cost savings and new efficiencies that will free up the resources needed to attract and retain the top faculty members who are dedicated to both teaching and research.
"A great university will continue to be judged by the quality of its faculty," he said.
President since 2006, Powers also pointed to recent successes at UT Austin, including among the "Class of 2016" that arrived on campus last fall. Under the leadership of Senior Vice Provost David Laude, the university has implemented initiatives to "entice, encourage, cajole, coerce and do everything in our power to help our undergraduate students to graduate in four years," Powers said.
The early signs of success include:
- 98.6 percent of last year’s freshmen returned for a second semester, a significant improvement over previous years.
- The fall semester failure rate for the Class of 2016 is almost half of what it was in 2009.
- During the past five years, grades of first-year students in their first semester are improving.
Powers’ address comes amid a historic year on the Forty Acres. He provided updates on many of the initiatives and successes of the past 12 months including:
- The Dell Medical School is on track to open in 2016, with the university leaders currently conducting a nationwide search for an inaugural dean.
- The university is beginning the final year of its $3 billion Campaign for Texas, hoping to build on and exceed last year’s record gift levels of more than $450 million.
- The entire campus community will engage in dialogue this fall on implementing recommendations from a committee of private sector experts that could yield $490 million during the next 10 years.
“We have become more productive at what we do,” Powers said. “This is good change and, critically, we measure our success against the criteria of what it means to be a world-class teaching and research university.”
“Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age,” an exhibition that opens Sept. 10 at the Harry Ransom Center, explores the evolution of Magnum Photos from print journalism to the digital age.
Magnum Photos was founded during the era of Life magazine. Before television, in the mid-1940s, big picture magazines were a keystone of mass communications, and readers marveled over images of war and Hollywood and Americana.
But while photographers on assignment customarily submitted their film to editors who used the photographs to illustrate pre-determined story concepts, the founders of Magnum wished to be central to the editorial process rather than serving the vision of the magazines.
In 1947 renowned photographers Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, David “Chim” Seymour and George Rodger created Magnum to enable photographers to explore the world on their own terms, developing and marketing their own photo stories, while owning the rights and controlling the use of their own images. Operating within this new model, Magnum photographers witnessed and interpreted many of the defining moments of the 20th century.
Drawn from the vast collection of prints from the agency’s New York bureau, the exhibition features more than 300 items, including photographic prints from the collection that was placed on deposit at the Harry Ransom Center in 2009.
A selection of contact sheets, magazine tear sheets and books in the exhibition will trace the working habits and expanding vision of these photographers as they move from image capture to publication, and a sampling of Magnum Photos’ multimedia projects will examine new paths for the future of the agency.
“Going deep into the expansive Magnum Photos collection at the Ransom Center allows us to place iconic photographs in context, exploring the ways in which Magnum images have historically circulated in newspapers and magazines, in movie theaters and art galleries, and now through multimedia platforms,” says Jessica McDonald, Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography and co-curator of the exhibition.
“Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos into the Digital Age” will be on view in the Ransom Center Galleries on Tuesdays through Fridays until Jan. 5, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours until 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed on Mondays.
AUSTIN, Texas — A new reconstruction of climate in the South Pacific during the past 446 years shows rainfall varied much more dramatically before the start of the 20th century than after. The finding, based on an analysis of a cave formation called a stalagmite from the island nation of Vanuatu, could force climate modelers to adjust their models. The models are adjusted to match the current levels of climate variability that are smaller now than they were in the recent past for this region.
“In this case, the present is not the key to the past, nor the future,” says Jud Partin, a research scientist associate at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics who led the study. The institute is part of the Jackson School of Geosciences. “Instead, the past is the key to what may happen in the future.”
The researchers also discovered a roughly 50 year cycle of rainfall in Vanuatu, toggling between wet and dry periods. Vanuatu lies within the largest rain band in the southern hemisphere, the South Pacific Convergence Zone and its rainy season is from November to April. In the 20th century, rainfall during wet periods was about 7 feet per rainy season and during dry periods about 4 ½ feet per rainy season.
However, before the 20th century, the dry periods tended to be much drier, with rainfall as low as 1 foot per rainy season and wet periods that were still getting about 7 feet per rainy season. This means there were differences as large as 6 feet per rainy season between dry and wet periods.
“Without this record, you would not guess that this area could experience such large changes in rainfall,” says Partin.
While 20th century rainfall in Vanuatu experienced a smaller range from wet to dry periods than in the previous centuries, the biggest difference was during the dry periods. Dry periods in the 20th century were much wetter than dry periods in previous centuries. The researchers note that this overall wettening of Vanuatu is consistent with the hypothesis that anthropogenic climate change, caused by the emission of greenhouse gases, makes wet areas wetter and dry areas drier.
The study was published online on September 6 in the journal Geology.
Stalagmites are rocky features that form on the floors of caves as water dripping from above deposits minerals over time. By analyzing the abundance of oxygen isotopes deposited in the minerals of one particular stalagmite, the scientists were able to reconstruct a history of rainfall going back 446 years. This is significant because rainfall measurements in this region are sparse and only span the past century. Decadal averages of oxygen isotopes increase and decrease in lockstep with rainfall. To convert oxygen isotope levels to actual rainfall values, the researchers calibrated the stalagmite data with actual rainfall measurements in Vanuatu from 1904 to 2003.
The stalagmite had a deposition rate about 100 times as high as typical stalagmites in the region, meaning much more material was deposited in a given year than elsewhere and therefore yielded a much higher resolution rainfall record than is typically possible. In the local dialect, known as Bislama, one would say of the stalagmite “Hem gudfala ston,” which means “This is a good stone.”
The 50-year cycle of rainfall in Vanuatu does not appear to be linked to any external forces, such as changes in solar intensity. No correlation was found with the sun’s regular 11-year cycle of intensity or the Little Ice Age, a multi-decade change in climate possibly caused by solar dimming.
Instead, the researchers propose that the 50-year cycle, or Pacific Decadal Variability (PDV), arises from natural fluctuations in Earth’s climate. The PDV causes the South Pacific Convergence Zone to shift northeast and southwest over time. At times, the zone is over Vanuatu (corresponding to wet times) and at others, it is farther to the northeast (corresponding to dry times).
“This new result is part of a larger research program aimed at understanding climate changes in this important but understudied area of the tropical Pacific,” says co-author Terry Quinn, director and research professor at the Institute for Geophysics and professor in the Department of Geological Sciences.
Partin’s other co-authors at The University of Texas at Austin are Frederick Taylor, Charles Jackson and Christopher Maupin at the Institute for Geophysics and Jay Banner at the Department of Geological Sciences. Other co-authors are Chuan-Chou “River” Shen and Ke Lin at National Taiwan University; Julien Emile-Geay at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Daniel Sinclair at Rutgers University; and Chih-An Huh at Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation (award AGS-1003700) to Jud Partin, the Taiwan (Republic of China) National Science Council and National Taiwan University.
The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest of its researchers. The university has not identified any such potential of conflicts involving this study.
The study, “Multidecadal rainfall variability in South Pacific Convergence Zone as revealed by stalagmite geochemistry” is available at: http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/early/2013/09/06/G34718.1.abstract
On Wednesday, a who’s who of the University of Texas community gathered at the LBJ Auditorium to give thanks for the life of Dr. Bill Livingston, who passed away on August 15 at the age of 93. For roughly the last half of the University’s history, he served and guided the institution in ways that can never be fully measured. He arrived in 1948 as a new government professor and rose through a multitude of administrative roles, eventually to serve as interim president and finally as senior vice president.
As a community, we offer our condolences to the Livingston family and most especially to Lana, his wife of 70 years, whom he adored and who shared him so fully with us.
As I told the gathering, Bill Livingston was to The University of Texas what Barton Springs is to the city of Austin: a never-ending source of refreshment and enjoyment, the essence of what is unique and best about our community, a fixture of our landscape, the time before which none of us can remember, and a treasure we cannot picture our community without.
Few besides him have given their lives so completely to the University, and none have better embodied its ideals.
You can watch the moving remembrance of Dr. Livingston at http://youtu.be/DliTK3Cxo14
EVENT: Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin, will deliver his eighth State of the University Address, presenting a public assessment on the progress of the institution. It will include a report on ongoing and new initiatives of the university's administration. The event is open to the public.
WHEN: 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11.
WHERE: The B. Iden Payne Theatre of the F. Loren Winship Drama Building near the circle drive at the corner of San Jacinto Boulevard and 23rd Street.
BROADCASTS AND ONLINE VIEWING:
- The President's State of the University Address will be broadcast live starting at 3:45 p.m. on the Web and on campus cable channels 7 and 11 on Sept. 11.
- Watch live streaming video from the State of the University Address Web page, or watch the video afterward. The president's report also will be broadcast live on the university’s Longhorn Network.
BACKGROUND: Powers is the 28th president of The University of Texas at Austin. Before taking office on Feb. 1, 2006, he was dean of the university's School of Law, where he won recognition for recruiting a world-class faculty and attracting highly diverse and talented students. He delivered his inaugural address on the state of the university on Sept. 19, 2006. Powers will also become chair of the Association of American Universities next month.
African-American students who need to improve their academic performance may do better in school and feel less stereotyped as underachievers if teachers convey high standards and their belief that students can meet them, according to new psychology research from The University of Texas at Austin.
The findings, published online in August in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, contradict a common trend in education of praising students for mediocre work to help raise self-esteem before delivering critical remarks. That method may seem patronizing and could backfire and lower self-esteem, especially when white teachers praise African-American students, said lead researcher David Yeager, assistant professor of developmental psychology.
In three studies conducted at suburban and inner-city schools, African-American students improved their grades after receiving a simple, one-sentence note from their teachers or an online pep talk. The exercises were designed to dispel students’ fears that criticism of their academic work could be caused by different treatment of African-American students rather than their teachers’ high standards.
In the first study at a suburban public middle school in Connecticut, 44 seventh-grade students (22 African-American and 22 white) wrote an essay about a personal hero that was critiqued by their teachers for improvements in a second draft. The students were randomly assigned to two groups with the experimental group receiving a hand-written note with their critiqued essay that stated, “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations, and I know that you can reach them.” The control group got a note that stated, “I’m giving you these comments so that you’ll have feedback on your paper.”
For African-American students who received the high-expectations note, 71 percent revised their essays, compared to 17 percent in the control group. The findings were even more pronounced for African-American students who had reported low trust in their teachers in surveys, with 82 percent revising their essays in the high-expectations group, compared to none in the control group. White students who received the high-expectations note also were more likely to revise their essays, but the difference wasn’t statistically significant compared to the control group.
The second study, conducted a year later with a similar group of 22 African-American and 22 white seventh-grade students, carried the research a step further by analyzing grades for the revised essays. In the high-expectations group, 88 percent of African-American students received better grades on their revised essays, compared to 34 percent in the control group. More than two months after the exercise, African-American students who had received the high-expectations note also reported higher levels of trust in their teachers. White students in the high-expectations group also saw slightly higher grades, but the difference wasn’t statistically significant.
The third study was conducted with 50 African-American and 26 white students at a New York City public high school where most children lived in low-income households. One group of students watched online testimonials that included photos of older students and their advice that academic criticism resulted from teachers’ high standards and their belief that students could reach them. One control group saw online testimonials with vague statements about teachers’ motives, while another control group completed some puzzles.
Over the next 10 weeks, African-American students in the high-expectations group showed higher grades across four core subjects — math, science, English and history. The improvement averaged a third of a grade point increase on a standard 4.0 grade point scale, equivalent to moving from a C- to a C or a B to a B+. White students in the high-expectations group saw a slight improvement in grades, but the change wasn’t statistically significant.
AUSTIN, Texas — A $680,890 grant from the Embrey Family Foundation will bolster teaching, research and outreach efforts in the Center for Women's & Gender Studies (CWGS) at The University of Texas at Austin, and will include funding for a new Women’s & Gender Studies professorship focusing on critical human rights.
The grant will also continue funding for undergraduate Signature Courses that address human rights issues and for the Performing Justice Project, a joint project with the Department of Theatre and Dance that helps Austin-area high school students and other communities of young women develop performances based on social justice themes. The grant will also support a post-doctoral position for a scholar of critical human rights for two years.
“We are so thankful for this creative grant from the Embrey Family Foundation,” said UT Austin president Bill Powers. “There is nothing more important than human rights and nothing more powerful than education to promote them. The foundation has my profound thanks.”
“The Embrey Family Foundation is excited to continue developing its growing partnership with the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Texas. It has been a fulfilling partnership,” said Lauren Embrey of the Embrey Family Foundation. “The progress achieved and performance exhibited by the Center has been exemplary. We look forward to future opportunities and collaborations with the Center as we participate in the education of young people and work towards a just society for all.”
“This grant provides a tremendous opportunity for the college to enhance teaching and research in the area of human rights,” said Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “It also supports important outreach efforts in our local community, engaging young people in the important issues that are shaping their world.”
The grant builds on previous funding CWGS has received from the foundation. A $450,000 grant in 2010 established the Women’s Human Rights Initiative, and a $100,200 grant in 2011 provided funds for NEW LeadershipTM Texas, a summer institute at UT Austin that addresses the underrepresentation of women in state politics and policy making.
“We are deeply appreciative of the support the Embrey Family Foundation has shown for the Center’s academic mission,” said Susan Sage Heinzelman, author of the grant proposal, director of the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies and an associate professor of English.
J. Lindsay Embrey established the Dallas-based Embrey Family Foundation in 2004. Its mission includes the advancement of human rights awareness around the world.
It’s time for some straight talk. Today, we open the final chapter of this great undertaking we call the Campaign for Texas. We have one year left in an eight-year fundraising campaign, and we have reached 75 percent of our goal. It doesn’t take a UT mathematician to figure out that it’s crunch time.
Seven years ago, when my team and I set the goal at $3 billion, we knew we were taking a risk. But I also knew something else — that we’re Longhorns, and that Longhorns are a different breed. I knew that the bond between UT alumni and their alma mater is powerful — that alumni and friends have risen to meet one audacious challenge after another and have done whatever it took to keep this a university of the first class. I believed then — and I absolutely believe now — that we can do this, and that we will.
I can say it no more plainly: UT needs you, and it needs you now.
If you have given before, thank you, and please give again. If you haven’t given yet, join the team and be a part of this historic effort. Please watch this short video (that is sure to bring back a happy memory), then go to http://giving.utexas.edu/homestretch/ and make a gift today.
I know we can do this. Let’s make history, together.
AUSTIN, Texas — Sharon L. Wood has been appointed interim dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
Wood, a structural engineer and chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, will assume her new role Oct. 1. She replaces Gregory L. Fenves, who will become the university’s new executive vice president and provost next month.
“The Cockrell School of Engineering will be in the hands of a distinguished and skillful leader as Sharon Wood assumes her responsibilities as interim dean,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Steven Leslie. “She has been an integral part of the Cockrell leadership team and has the research and administrative acumen to continue to propel the school in developing engineering leaders for tomorrow.”
A national search for a permanent dean will be launched this month and led by Fenves.
Wood, who is the first female dean at the school and was its first female department chair, has been nationally recognized for her research on earthquake-resistant structures. Earlier this year she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer, and will be inducted Oct. 6.
Wood currently serves as vice president of the American Concrete Institute. She has served on federal advisory committees for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program and the U.S. Geological Survey. Wood’s administrative experience at the university also includes directing the Cockrell School’s Phil M. Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory, one of the nation’s leading research centers in the large-scale study of the behavior of bridges, buildings and structural components.
“The Cockrell School is on a great trajectory given our recent efforts to recruit new faculty and improve the student experience,” said Wood. “I plan to continue the initiatives that Dean Fenves has begun and explore new ways to improve and evolve our educational and research priorities, especially the development of the Engineering Education and Research Center.”
Wood joined the Cockrell School faculty in 1996 and holds the Cockrell Family Chair in Engineering No. 14. Prior to that, she served on the civil engineering faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 10 years. Wood is a fellow of the American Concrete Institute and received the Henry L. Kennedy Award in 2006 for outstanding technical and administrative contributions to the institute.
She received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia in 1982 and her master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1983 and 1986, respectively.
The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, invites applications for its 2014–2015 research fellowships in the humanities.
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. 31, 2014, at 5 p.m. CST.
More than 50 fellowships are awarded annually by the Ransom Center to support projects that require substantial on-site use of its collections. The fellowships support research in all areas of the humanities, including literature, photography, film, art, the performing arts, music and cultural history.
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 Ransom Center endowments and annual sponsors, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship Endowment, the Dorot Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Jewish Studies, the Robert De Niro Endowed Fund, the Carl H. Pforzheimer Endowment, the Woodward and Bernstein Endowment, the Frederic D. Weinstein Memorial Fellowship in Twentieth-Century American Literature, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, the South Central Modern Language Association, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas at Austin Office of Graduate Studies.
Applicants will be notified of decisions on April 1, 2014. Fellowship recipients and their research projects will be announced on the Ransom Center’s website.
The 2014–2015 academic cycle will mark the 25th anniversary of the Ransom Center’s fellowship program. Since the program's inauguration in 1990, the Center has supported the research of more than 800 scholars through fellowships.
[Photos by Marsha Miller]
What can you learn in a year? Plenty, it turns out, thanks to a spate of new one-year, highly specialized master’s degrees offered by UT, allowing students get in, gobble up knowledge and leave with in-demand business skills.
“It’s tough but you definitely learn a lot,” said Dash, looking up from his laptop as he studied outside a classroom last spring. “Looking back to the first semester, we were learning about the basics of finance and now we’re pretty in-depth and learning advanced topics.”
His classmate, Avinash Sridharan, added that the “one and done” format also has pragmatic appeal: “We get out and start making money.”
The programs, also known as fifth-year master’s degrees, are gaining in popularity at UT and nationwide. Enrollment in such programs across the United States doubled to more than 52,000 in the 2010-11 school year from the 2006-07 school year, according to a 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal.
A Master of Science in Business Analytics program, also at McCombs, kicks off this semester, as does a Master of Arts in Economics program in the College of Liberal Arts. And two new leadership degrees join the mix: the Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) master of arts degree, run out of the College of Liberal Arts and beginning this fall; and the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ Executive Master in Public Leadership, which welcomes its first class in May 2014.
Each degree is designed to strategically prepare students for the modern business environment.
“There’s a pretty broad recognition that companies succeed and fail on their ability to unify their employees behind a common mission and serve customers effectively,” says Art Markman, professor in the Department of Psychology and director of the HDO program. “Well, those are people-centered problems.”
There has been strong demand for all the programs from students, according to the program directors. And — even better — there is demand from companies for the graduates.Degree Program Details
- 10 months, full-time
- Concentrations available in energy finance, corporate finance or consulting, asset or investment management
- No previous work experience required
- 10 months, full-time
- Applicants should have strong quantitative and/or technical undergraduate degrees
- Support and recruitment from Walmart, Deloitte Consulting, IBM and Bazaarvoice
- 10 months, full-time
- A strong quantitative background, along with some exposure to economics courses, is expected.
- Economics named by Forbes as a top-10 “Best Master’s Degrees for Jobs”
- 18 months, classes on Friday evenings and Saturdays, twice a month
- Focuses on the human side of business, bringing in faculty members from psychology, history, sociology and other liberal arts disciplines
- Created by faculty members with guidance from business leaders at companies such as Procter & Gamble, ING and GSD&M
- 15 months, courses every other weekend
- Open to applicants with seven or more years of professional experience in management and leadership positions
- Focused on four themes: providing strategic direction through leadership; working with and leading people; business and operational acumen; and strategic awareness, communications and coalition building
Sometimes email spam is tucked away neatly in a spam folder with obvious subject lines like “Need Cash Quick?” or “Best Luxury Replica Watch Supplier.” But other times it’s not so apparent, making its way to your inbox with believable subjects like “LinkedIn Friend Request” or “Urgent Attention Needed for your ATM Card Delivery.” Not only is spam obnoxious, but it also causes major problems across the world in the form of wasted time, dangerous viruses, stolen identities, and large financial costs to fix the problem.
“Most spam is sent from computers compromised by botnets or phishing” says center director Andrew Whinston. “The same security problems that let those problems in could be used for worse things, ranging from denial of service attacks to identity theft to blackmail to alteration of financial records.”
In an effort to prevent those problems from cropping up, each month SpamRankings.net publicly lists organizations that are hosting spam, albeit sometimes unknowingly. The hope is that bad publicity will influence these companies to fix their security problems.
“If our approach works, it will enable a strong policy argument that more disclosure of breaches for more reputational rankings would improve security even more,” says John S. Quarterman, the project’s senior researcher, proprietor of Quarterman Creations and author of seven books about the Internet.
Ever wonder where all that spam in your inbox comes from? SpamRankings.net tracks daily changes in spam trends worldwide. In July, most of it originated in the U.S.
More about SpamRankings.net
“Spam Spankings” (originally published at Texas Enterprise)
Why You Should Care About Spam
Why publish ranked lists of spamming organizations, which most likely don’t even know their computers are infected? If you knew which department store in your area had the highest theft rate, would you shop there? Perhaps, since the store’s loss does not threaten you personally. But what if you knew which bank had the worst record for identity theft? Are you just as likely to be its customer? What’s at stake is the level of perceived threat.
The Spam Rankings project’s leaders hope you will recognize spam as more than annoying clutter. Far from a mere nuisance, they suggest, spam is the smoke that signals a dangerous fire. Spam at its worst poses a security threat and portends infection and theft.
For the end-user, inbound spam can carry malicious codes used by hackers for fraud and crime. For the organization, outbound spam — frequently sent unknowingly by its own computers — confirms that the company’s IT security has been breached and the organization is susceptible to all sorts of other malware, such as phishing, which tries to trick users into supplying account numbers and passwords; DDoS, distributed denial-of-service attacks, which bring down websites by inundating them with thousands of service requests per second; and data theft, in which passwords and financial information are siphoned off and stored on other servers for later theft or blackmail.
The rankings do show that some organizations, including hospitals, have made dramatic improvements over a few months, with some appearing to have cleaned up their spambot problem entirely.
For instance, Cedars-Sinai Health Systems, the leading hospital spammer in April, fell to third place by June. While a decrease of two ranks may not sound like much, their spam volume dropped significantly from 55,132 to 6,414, a reduction of 88 percent. By July, that reduction had widened to 95 percent. By August, Cedars-Sinai wasn’t even on the radar, with spam volume essentially near zero.
Does SpamRankings work? In commentary linked to the SpamRankings site, Quarterman noted the successes in the medical organizations’ rankings and wrote that the SpamRankings investigators had ruled out the possibility that these organizations simply managed to whitelist their netblocks on the Composite Blocking List.
The conclusion? The companies really did clean up their act partly in response to the rankings. Quarterman also noted that SpamRankings has even received a letter from one large medical group saying “The listing on your site added additional impetus to make sure we “stay clean” so in that regard, you are successful.”
This article originally appeared on McCombs TODAY.
Now available: 23 images for download. Images are for use on mobile devices or social media profiles. Have a suggestion for another social media profile image? Email us suggestions. Click on any image below to download or visit the UT Austin Flickr page. Download tip: Click on the image to go to Flickr. Download the “original” size. Facebook Cover Photos
After Commencement, this is my favorite time of the Longhorn year.
On campus, you can feel the excitement of new students as they begin an experience that will help set the course for the rest of their lives. Last night, they gathered on the Main Mall to celebrate this new chapter with a freshman convocation we call Gone to Texas. Music, spirit groups, and speakers primed our freshmen for a great college career.
Tonight, Aug. 28, at the end of our first class day, we continue another great tradition with the Second Annual Big Yell! & Texas Football Town Hall Meeting, followed by the Class of 2017 group photo. The event is free for all UT students. Gates at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium open at 5 p.m., and students should enter through Gates 14 or 16 at the north end of the stadium. The Big Yell! & Texas Football Town Hall Meeting starts 5:45 p.m. Hosted by UT Athletics and the Texas Exes, the event will be a crash course in UT tradition, featuring live appearances by Texas Cheer & Pom, Bevo, Smokey the Cannon, Big Bertha, the Longhorn Marching Band, and the world’s largest Texas flag. I will introduce Coach Mack Brown, who will talk about the upcoming season. Here’s a preview:
Afterward, the band will form a large Longhorn silhouette on the field, and our freshmen will fill it in for a class photo.
I welcome back all of you who have been away. Let’s have a great year!
Hook ’em Horns!
Statement from Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, The University of Texas at Austin
AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin Police Department and The University of Texas at Austin are cooperating to investigate a report that a balloon filled with bleach was dropped on an individual in the area that is west of campus. Indications are that the balloon dropped last week was filled with water. However, the university has collected clothing and balloon remnants from the site and sent them a lab for further forensic testing.
Even though this event occurred off campus, such reports are distressing and disappointing. The university is actively aiding Austin police in their investigation, and the Dean of Students and our campus climate response team are also currently reviewing these allegations.
We take seriously the concern that this reported incident may have been racially motivated. However, water balloon incidents are not uncommon near campus, especially during fall rush activities. University officials have been working with building managers in the area west of campus to create protocols to help prevent such activities in the future.
Any person who believes such actions are merely schoolyard pranks is mistaken. Throwing balloons filled with any substance on another individual may be considered assault — a criminal offense and, if students are involved, punishable under Chapter 11 of the university’s Institutional Rules and Regulations.
A university investigation of similar reports last fall of balloons containing bleach found no evidence that bleach was used, and the students responsible for that incident were held accountable under the university’s disciplinary system.
Episodes such as these undermine ongoing efforts by the university to create an environment that celebrates its diversity and its value to the community and educational experience. It also is the antithesis to the unity that normally defines this campus. The University of Texas at Austin has long been committed to promoting diversity and ensuring respect and inclusion throughout the campus community. Our university should be a haven and home to students of all backgrounds.
The actions of a few individuals out of a community of more than 52,000 students should not be taken as representative of the entire community. Building a community on a foundation of respect starts with the actions and words of each individual, reflective of the caliber of students we hope to recruit and send back out into the world as our future leaders.
AUSTIN, Texas — The Kresge Foundation and the Greater Texas Foundation have awarded The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) two grants totaling $437,000 to develop strategies for improving Latino student engagement and college completion rates.
The CCCSE is partnering with the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Washington, D.C., nonprofit Excelencia in Education to work on the project, which is called “Engaging Latino Students for Transfer and College Completion.”
Data show that although Latinos are the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the nation, only about 60 percent of that population is graduating from high school, compared with 90 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 81 percent of black students. The achievement gap extends into postsecondary education, with 31 percent of white, 18 percent of black and 13 percent of Latino adults reporting that they have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.
For Latino students who do attend community colleges, the segue to four-year universities has been challenging. Data show that, although more than 70 percent of Latinos express a desire to transfer from two-year to four-year institutions, only 7 to 20 percent actually do.
“Right now, the most rapidly expanding populations in the U.S. are those minority groups with the lowest levels of education attainment,” said Kay McClenney, CCCSE director. “It’s critical that we address this achievement gap issue because, in the international arena, the U.S. continues to experience a decline in relative education attainment. That decline can’t be reversed unless we attend to longstanding economic, racial and ethnic inequities in education outcomes.”
The high costs associated with failing to assist Latino students, in particular, will include reduced workforce competitiveness, continuing decline of the middle class and an exacerbation of social disparities, said McClenney.
Grant partners will examine large data sets from recent CCCSE and NSSE student engagement surveys to analyze Latino students’ experiences at community colleges and four-year universities. Using this information, they will design and conduct a 2 ½-day Latino Student Engagement Institute that aims to improve engagement, transfer and college completion of Latino students.
“We will be inviting five-person teams from 11 four-year universities and 11 community colleges to participate in the institute,” said McClenney. “We want to include pairs of institutions that serve the same urban areas, and we’re focusing primarily on schools in Michigan, California and Texas because they have large urban areas and rapidly-growing Latino populations.”
During the institute, participating colleges and universities will create concrete action plans that describe how their policies, programs and practices will improve Latino students’ engagement and academic outcomes, and grant partners will monitor and support implementation of the action plans post-institute.
The CCCSE, which is in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Administration, has surveyed close to 2 million students at 869 community colleges in 50 states and the District of Columbia and has conducted focus groups since 2003 in community colleges across the United States. Beyond data-gathering, the CCCSE and its partners have a common mission of sharing evidence-based, high-impact practices with colleges and universities and helping them use data to target and monitor improvements in programs and services for students.
Fifty years ago, on a warm late-August day, more than a quarter of a million people participated in one of the country’s largest ever political rallies for human rights. The event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and is best remembered for an iconic speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. that has come to be known as “I Have a Dream.” On the occasion of the event’s 50th anniversary, we gathered images of King taken by Flip Schulke (1930-2008), a noted photojournalist who donated his vast collection of images taken over a 40-year career to UT’s Briscoe Center for American History. And we invited scholars, staff and students to reflect on the legacy of the speech and how it rings today.
As a young student at Howard University I marched that day with my mother and family. Looking back, I am reminded of the power of people coming together peacefully to petition their government for support and policy changes. I expected the federal government to respond with thoughtful and carefully crafted legislation and policy to right the wrongs of the day. My career in public service is informed by the powerful messages of Dr. King, John Lewis and others, and the courageous response of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and the majority of Congress with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. America is a better country for their inspiration and actions.
The 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s landmark speech is an opportune time to reflect on how this 1,667-word oration serves as a reminder of the “bad check” of slavery, Jim Crow and the alternating cycles of violence and neglect directed towards African Americans. Dr. King clearly intended his words to inspire and uplift all Americans, but we must remember that the inspiration came after a realistic perusal of the American character through the mirror of history. I hope we as a nation have the courage to gaze unafraid at our past and present inequities so that we can accomplish his vision of justice and righteousness flowing “like a mighty stream” for all of the members of the beloved community.
—Rich Reddick, assistant professor, Department of Education Administration; faculty affiliate, John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies
Many of the inequalities and injustices that he speaks out against are nearly the same issues that we rally against today. However, MLK’s speech began a movement that has progressed America’s disadvantaged further than one can measure. His speech — and the continuous celebration of it — shows us the power in fighting for what you believe in.
—Chelsea N. Jones, junior, College of Communication; co-director of Community Relations, Afrikan American Affairs; assistant director, Diversity & Inclusion Agency, Student Government
I encourage everyone to read the entire speech and ask yourself the following questions: Can America cash the check for justice? Are African Americans still exiles in their own land? Where do we go from here? King wanted us to sit at the table and have an honest conversation about race. Is America ready, willing and able to do so, 50 years later?
The Dream is a prophecy come true for my family. My wife LeeAnn Kahlor and I are white and we have 5 adopted kids. Four are black and one is Hispanic. As a parent, I sometimes reflect on the fact that our lives together might not be possible. This is when I truly understand what King was able to help us envision as a nation.
Because we refer to the Reverend King’s speech as the “I Have a Dream Speech,” we tend to focus on the latter part of it. How differently would we read and think about this speech if we instead referred to it as “The Fierce Urgency of Now” speech!
We would then focus on the way King juxtaposes the sufferings of enslaved men and women “seared in the flames of withering injustice” with the persistently “shameful condition” of 20th century African Americans “crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” King offers an implicit condemnation of a willfully indifferent federal government, bowing to the segregationists of both political parties, and of the liberal whites calling upon civil rights activists to exercise “moderation” and “patience.” To counter these elements of blacks’ “shameful condition,” citizens of goodwill must attack political and economic inequality without delay and compensate for the centuries of betrayal and broken promises endured by people of African descent in America.
As we continue to grapple with such fundamental injustices in American life, King’s words suggest we should do more than “dream” of a better future; rather, the country must take bold action, for, in his still-prescient words, “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment” — that is, a long history of injustice that has led us to “the fierce urgency of Now.”
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech provided a goal that will happen when everyone takes an earnest role in eradicating the divisive impediments and systems that have saturated our communities throughout these United States. Significant progress has been made, but we still have more to accomplish.
It has been said, “For Dr. King, race was in most things but defined nothing alone.” In 2013, some Americans may be surprised that race is still in most things, because its impact is often invisible to most people unless they have explored their awareness of race and related actions. Our refusal to see them as America’s problems precludes our search for an equitable solution for all. Fifty years hence, his prescient words poignantly remind us that we still have much work to do.
Historical memories of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Justice rarely include its significance for many African American women. Despite appeals by National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) president Dorothy Height, the central organizing committee for the march refused to invite any women to speak at the event. Instead, they seated several women leaders on the platform in recognition of their crucial roles in mobilizing people to attend the march. Civil rights leader Pauli Murray later said, “What emerges most clearly from events of the past several months is the tendency to assign women to a secondary, ornamental or ‘honoree’ role instead of the partnership role in the civil rights movement which they have earned by their courage, intelligence and dedication.” For Murray, Height and others the movements for race and gender equality would henceforth be fused into one.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a troublemaker in the truest, best sense of the word. As is typically the case with his kind of troublemaking, we’ll always be just on the cusp of deciding if we’re actually ready to take him seriously.
—Imani Evans, public affairs specialist, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech still resonates with us because it eloquently widened visions of American democracy and freedom. Yet, it is often the only speech many Americans recall when they reflect on Dr. King’s legacy. We must also engage some of his other extraordinary writings from the 1960s, such as “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,“ “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” “Honoring Dr. DuBois,”and “I’ve been to the Mountaintop,” in order to fully appreciate his understanding of peace and social justice.
—Frank A. Guridy, associate professor, Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies; author of “Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow”
“I Have a Dream” is perhaps MLK’s most powerful speech rhetorically but not analytically. As King continued organizing in the 1960s, his political vision expanded and deepened, which was reflected in speeches that grew more radical. Yet for many Americans, that 1963 speech remains the only one they know. We have yet to achieve the “radical revolution of values” that King called for late in his life. The anniversary of the march and the speech is a time to reflect on the victories in the civil rights struggle to end apartheid in the United States and to be honest about the injustice that remains.
While it is clear to me that we live in a different world from the one that provided the context for Martin Luther King’s speech 50 years ago, current events remind me we have far to go to fully realize his dream. His dream, his words, provide me with a destination and goal as I determine the work and tasks I choose to focus on each day.
In King’s memorable “I Have a Dream” speech, he said: “1963 is not an end but a beginning.” Yet, 50 years later poverty is more pronounced. Indeed, could King have anticipated the nation’s changing demographics for as he also said in that 1963 speech: “for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
—Juliet E. K. Walker, professor, Department of History; founder/director Center for Black Business, History, Entrepreneurship, and Technology; IC2 Institute Jack D. Wrather Jr. Centennial Fellow; IC2 Gerhard J. Fonken Endowed Research Fellow
While “I Have a Dream” was indeed a powerful speech we must remember that it was for a specific purpose at a specific time. We must also remember that the MLK who gave that speech in 1963 was not the same MLK by 1966.
The March on Washington demanded far-reaching changes in law, education, economics and politics. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech fused a passionate plea for change with a strong commitment to civility and respect for the dignity of all citizens, even those with whom he disagreed. As he inspired listeners “to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges,” King also reminded his followers: “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” We would do well, today, if we learned to pursue passionate change with more civility and much less bitterness and hatred.
Welcome to The University of Texas at Austin! You’ve been admitted to UT Austin and registered for classes. You’ve Moooved-In to campus residences or domiciles around Austin. You’ve spent a few days wandering around campus, getting your bearings for the first time since orientation. And now the fun is about to begin: an intellectual adventure with some of the nation’s top scholars and programs. To help you prepare for the journey that starts this week, veteran students offer their advice for a successful college experience: And it’s clear you’ve already been thinking about how YOU plan to change the world: Before Wednesday’s first classes, be sure not to miss Gone To Texas on Tuesday evening, the campus-wide welcome party for all incoming students. Here’s a look at Gone to Texas 2011: After your first day of classes, get excited during the Big Yell on Wednesday night: Here’s to a great 2013-14 school year. Hook ‘em!
EVENT: New students arriving at The University of Texas at Austin will gather Tuesday, Aug. 27, in front of the Tower to celebrate “Gone To Texas,” a celebration that introduces new students — including incoming freshmen and transfer, graduate and law students — to the traditions of the institution and its core purpose, values and honor code.
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 27, 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Main Mall on the south side of the university’s Tower.
BACKGROUND: “Gone To Texas” will include live performances, the official welcome by Provost Designate Greg Fenves, presentation of the “Gone to Texas” video contest finalists and announcement of the winners, special guest speakers and presentations, and a finale featuring the Longhorn Band.
The university’s schools and colleges also have scheduled programs earlier in the evening to welcome new students and introduce them to fellow students, faculty members and staffers. A list of the pre-event activities by schools and colleges is available online at http://www.utexas.edu/events/gtt/schedule.php.
The first “Gone to Texas” welcoming event on campus was held in 1997. The event’s theme is inspired by a chapter of Texas history. About 200 years ago, as adventurers pulled up stakes seeking a fresh start, three letters etched on homestead doors revealed their destination. “GTT” was written on the doors of people indicating they had “gone to Texas.”
As a part of the program, the university’s Tower will be lit a bright burnt orange to celebrate the arrival of the newest adventurers who have gone to Texas.
Details about “Gone To Texas” are available at utexas.edu/events/gtt.
Ashley Spencer, Morolake Akinosun and Kendall Baisden will join the Longhorn women's team, while Noah Zorsky will compete on the men's side.