We Need Comprehensive Federal, State and Local Policies That Outlaw Racial, Other Types of Profiling
Racial and other types of profiling continues to plague our nation despite the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law.
In a 2011 report on racial profiling, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights summarized a variety of evidence, from federal Bureau of Justice Statistics data on contacts with police to numerous state-wide studies of traffic stop data, showing that African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately likely to be stopped and searched by police, even though those stops and searches do not reveal crimes or contraband in comparable measure.
Similarly, researchers analyzing New York City stop-and-frisk data in the Floyd v. City of New York case demonstrated to a federal judge that NYPD was engaged in racial profiling, based on data showing disproportionate levels of stop-and-frisk targeting of Black and Latino New Yorkers.
Civil rights groups have also documented profiling of Americans who are Arab, Muslim or South Asian in post 9/11 national security and other law enforcement investigations.
Likewise, excessive force by police persists despite the Constitution’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.
In lawsuits and investigations, the U.S. Department of Justice has concluded that a number of major police departments, including Seattle, New Orleans, Portland, Newark, Albuquerque and most recently Cleveland, have engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force.
The DOJ has recommended, among other things, revising and clarifying written policies regarding appropriate uses of force, improving officer training and supervision, and implementing rigorous internal accountability systems.
Whatever else we have learned from the recent tragedies of police violence, it is clear that we need comprehensive federal, state, and local policies that outlaw racial and other types of profiling in order to rein in police excessive force, harassment, and other misconduct.
Profiling undermines public safety and strains police-community trust. When law enforcement officers target community members based on race, religion or national origin rather than behavior, crime-fighting is less effective, and community distrust of police grows.
A study that examined community sentiments toward the Los Angeles Police Department showed that minority communities who had been unfairly targeted in the past continue to experience greater mistrust and fear of police officers.
To root out racial profiling, we need stronger policies at the state and local levels, as well as more effective training and oversight of police officers. State-level policies vary widely. In fact, a recent September 2014 report from the NAACP titled Born Suspect found 20 out of the 50 states do not have laws that prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement.
Only 17 states require data collection on all police stops and searches, and only 15 require analysis and publication of other racial profiling data. Remedies for racial profiling incidents also vary from state to state.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled a newly revised policy on law enforcement profiling, entitled Guidance Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, which is a useful model for state and local law enforcement agencies.
The policy distinguishes between legitimate uses of characteristics such as race, for example in a suspect description, and illegitimate uses, such as criminal stereotypes.
The policy further explains that legitimate uses of race and other characteristics are based on particularized and trustworthy information relevant to the specific investigation, rather than generalized stereotypes. The policy also provides general provisions on training, data collection and accountability.
It is a revision for which civil rights groups have been waiting for years. The expansion of the policy to include national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity is positive, and based on complaints and studies showing that each of these characteristics have been the bases of bias in policing.
Civil rights advocates had also sought the elimination of loopholes for national security and border enforcement, which the DOJ unfortunately did not adopt.
The DOJ policy, however, is far clearer and stronger than policies held by many states and localities. As the NAACP found, some states and localities ban the use of pretextual traffic stops, others explicitly prohibit racial profiling, and still others require mandatory data collection, but few contain all of the elements of an effective racial profiling ban.
Some states lack profiling laws altogether. Since Americans encounter local police in far greater numbers than any federal law enforcement officers, the adoption of state and local laws and policies banning profiling is critical.
While racial profiling can end in tragic police killings of unarmed individuals, such as with Eric Garner or Michael Brown, studies cited in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and NAACP reports along with the Floyd case show that profiling also results in unnecessary stops and searches, harassment and intimidation, and even confiscation of property without due process.
If we have learned anything from the recent tragic deaths of Garner and Brown, and the experiences of numerous other African American victims of police violence going back decades — from Rodney King to Abner Louima to Amadou Diallo and Tamir Rice — it is that excessive force and racial profiling are two destructive modes of police misconduct that require concerted, vigilant action to reduce and eliminate.
Now that the federal government has renewed its commitment to root out bias in federal law enforcement, state and local law enforcement agencies should follow suit.
Through the adoption of clear anti-profiling laws and policies, training of officers on the elimination of explicit and implicit bias, data collection on traffic stops and other police-community contacts, and development of internal and external accountability systems, police departments across the country can rebuild public trust and ensure that policing methods reinforce rather than undermine our democratic values.
Ranjana Natarajan is a clinical professor and director of the Civil Rights Clinic at The University of Texas School of Law.
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As we near the close of 2014, I want to wish you happy holidays and a joyful winter break.
When the campus comes alive with students once again in January, we will have a new chancellor, Distinguished Alumnus Bill McRaven. I congratulate Admiral McRaven on his new role, and I want to thank Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa for his service to the UT System over the past five years and wish him well in the next chapter of his career.
I’d also like to share with you a list of the top stories from UT over this calendar year, which can be found here. Surveying these stories of teaching and research excellence from the last 12 months will make you prouder than ever of UT Austin.
Finally, good luck to all of our Longhorns competing in the upcoming days — our football team, which takes on Arkansas in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston at 8 p.m. on December 29, our highly ranked women’s and men’s basketball teams, and our fantastic volleyball team, playing in the NCAA semifinal Thursday, Dec. 18. The winner will play for the National Championship on Dec. 20. Join me in supporting all of our great student-athletes.
This is the time of year when Kim and I feel especially blessed to count so many of you as friends and to have enjoyed so much support from the University of Texas family.
The iconic Tower is The University of Texas at Austin’s most recognizable landmark, and 2014 brought plenty of reasons for the Tower to show off Longhorn pride with a burnt-orange glow.
The standard all-white configuration illuminates the Tower in Austin’s skyline most nights, and a handful of other lighting configurations convey signals of celebration, accomplishment or, sometimes, solitude.
From the orange top best known for celebrating football victories to the windows lit in different formations bidding farewell to a graduating class and welcoming incoming freshmen, the Tower had special lighting configurations more than 30 times in 2014.WINTER The University of Texas at Austin’s iconic Tower stands tall in the city’s skyline, and special lighting configurations tell of different Longhorns accomplishments.
- The year’s first tower lighting came Jan. 14 when the university honored J. Tinsley Oden, associate vice president for research and director of the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, for winning the prestigious 2013 Honda Prize for his role in establishing the field of computational mechanics.
- The Men’s Swimming and Diving team won the Big 12 Championship in early March.
- On March 2, the tower again glowed, this time to mark Texas Independence Day.
- The Tower’s burnt orange glow again shone March 4 to mark the Women’s Swimming and Diving team’s second straight Big 12 Championship.
- More Texas Athletics success brought another Tower lighting March 11, this time to celebrate the Texas women’s victory at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship.
- Four Cockrell School of Engineering professors were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.
- The university bestowed upon 11 faculty and staff members three important awards in mid-March.
- At the end of March, the tower went dark, its lights turned off in a display of solidarity with Earth Hour, when people around the world conserve energy by turning off nonessential lights at the same time.
[Spend your holidays exploring museums and cheering for the Longhorns.
Check out our winter-break guide to visiting The University of Texas at Austin.]
- April 12 marked Honors Day, when members of the Class of 2014 were recognized for academic excellence.
- The Daily Texan, the university’s student newspaper, earned the top award as the Best Newspaper at a four-year school with more than 10,000 students during the College Media Association’s annual convention.
- University President Bill Powers honored five alumni and scholars with presidential citations on April 17.
- The Men’s Tennis team won the Big 12 Conference regular season title, giving the Tower another reason to turn burnt orange in April.
- The orange lighting again drenched the Tower for Texas Athletics victories when the Men’s Golf Team won the Big 12 Championship.
- The Tower darkened at dusk May 2 in remembrance of members of the university community who died during the past year for UT Remembers.
- Chemistry Professor C. Grant Wilson won the 2013 Japan Prize, an international award similar to the Nobel Prize.
- Mathematics Professor Luis A. Caffarelli won the 2014 American Mathematical Society Leroy P. Steel Prize for his lifetime of achievement and seminal contribution to research in mathematics.
- The Longhorn Powerlifting, Texas Rock Climbing and Texas Quidditch teams won national championships, and the May 7 Tower lighting honored those RecSports champs.
- The Tower also shone with orange lights in May to honor more than 800 university employees who have between 10 and 45 years of service to the university.
- As the Class of 2014 prepared to leave the Forty Acres with diplomas in hand, the Tower displayed a “14” in its windows alongside the full burn-orange lighting to honor the graduating class two nights in a row.
[This year marked another great one for The University of Texas at Austin.
Check out our recap of 2014.]
- The women’s track and field team won its eighth Big 12 outdoor title.
- As summer began, the Tower turned orange to honor reQwip and Prepify, two teams of McCombs School of Business students who won national competitions.
- The generosity of donors supporting the Campaign for Texas helped the university top its $3 billion goal by $115 million.
- Longhorns celebrated the university’s 131st birthday in September, giving the Tower another reason to glow burnt orange.
[This year brought a bounty of reasons for The University of Texas at Austin family to give thanks.
Read about the accomplishments of our students, faculty and alumni during 2014.]
- The Longhorns earned victory six times on the football field this season, bringing an orange-capped lighting with each win. (Tune in to the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl on Dec. 29 to cheer for the Longhorns as they battle Arkansas for win No. 7.)
- The School of Journalism celebrated its centennial year, prompting the Tower to turn orange with a “100” formed with lit windows on its sides.
- In October, the Tower turned orange to honor an iconic athlete, a famous movie star, an astronaut and the three other recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Awards.
- To honor the life and legacy of Vincent R. DiNino, director of bands emeritus who helped propel the Longhorn Band to its current heights, the Tower glowed orange with the letter “D” on its sides.
- A team of McCombs School of Business students won the 2014 Michigan Undergraduate Investment Conference.
- On Oct. 24, the Tower turned dark for a third time in 2014, this time for Longhorn Lights Out, a voluntary initiative demonstrating how simple, individual actions can result in significant energy savings across campus.
- To thank the more than 270,000 donors who contributed to The Campaign for Texas, the tower was ablaze in orange Nov. 6.
- The university’s Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Team placed first in the 2014 Fifth Brigade Ranger Challenged Competition.
- The Texas Volleyball team took home the Big 12 Championship, again turning the Tower orange.
- Complete with a “14” displayed in the windows, the tower’s burnt-orange glow filled the sky two consecutive nights in early December to honor the Class of 2014 graduates departing the Forty Acres.
The New Year is almost here, but 2014 will go down in the books as one that brought The University of Texas at Austin big successes in the classroom, on the field and beyond the Forty Acres.
Before you flip your calendar, jog your memory on all the great things from 2014 with this year-in-review recap.
[Spend your holidays exploring museums and cheering for the Longhorns.
Check out our winter-break guide to visiting The University of Texas at Austin.]
Here are 11 examples of Longhorns making headlines during 2014:
- The year started with news of Charlie Strong‘s hiring as coach of the Longhorn football team. His character-driven approach to developing student athletes coupled with a bowl-game appearance earned Strong praise throughout the season.
- In February, Ann Collins Johns, a senior lecturer in the Department of Art and Art History, received a hand-written letter from President Barack Obama about the importance and value of an art history degree.
- The New York Times took note of UT’s efforts to help high-achieving students from low-income families overcome hurdles in higher education in the May 15 article, “Who Gets to Graduate?”
- Reporters from across the country — and four living U.S. presidents — came to campus in April for the LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit. The New York Times wrote about the summit in an article “Remembering L.B.J. for More Than Vietnam.”
- The Guardian’s Starwatch series highlighted the work of a team of UT astronomers who hope to “identify the Sun’s potential sibling.”
- In September, CBS News took note of “Art that goes to the dogs (and cats)” in an article about the Blanton Museum of Art‘s popular exhibit, “In the Company of Cats and Dogs.”
- Edward LeBrun, a research associate with the Texas invasive species research program at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory in the College of Natural Sciences, talked with NPR in May about “Crazy Ants Spreading In The Southeastern US.”
- The Harry Ransom Center exhibition “The Making of Gone With The Wind” created a lot of buzz this fall, prompting CNN to say, “Frankly, we still give a damn” about the iconic movie’s influence.
- The University of Texas System announced William H. McRaven (B.J. ’77), who oversaw the special-operations raid that claimed Osama bin Laden’s life, will be its next leader, drawing praise from higher-education experts across the country.
- The Washington Post took note of findings from postdoctoral researcher Yoel Stuart showing how competition drove one species of lizards to evolve big, sticky feet in just 15 years.
- Erika Patall, an assistant professor of human development, culture and learning sciences, explained how parents can “Help Children Form Good Study Habits” when The New York Times’ opinion pages posed the question, “Whose Work is Homework?”
[The UT Tower’s burnt-orange glow lit the Austin skyline throughout the year.
See what prompted Tower lightings in 2014.]
Refresh your memory of 2014 with these highlights from the year at The University of Texas at Austin:
- Football Head Coach Charlie Strong kicked off 2014 with a whirlwind first week.
- Class of 2018 members started the year by opening acceptance letters, marking the “Best Day of My Life,” for some students.
- In February the Butler School of Music hosted the Menuhin Competition, a prestigious international competition that saw some of the world’s best young violinists perform on the Forty Acres and in venues around Austin. It was the first time the Menuhin had ever been held in the U.S. Watch some highlights from the event.
- Our students have earned a lot of bragging rights, and these 17 students are ones we’re proud to call Longhorns.
- Inaugural Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston joined the university in March, setting forth his vision for reinventing health care.
- Microbiologists and infectious disease researchers explored both what makes bacteria resistant and “The Trouble with Defeating Diseases.” In the health and technology fields, researchers developed “Innovative Devices That Aren’t Science Fiction” anymore. Both are examples of how UT scholars are continuing their Pursuit of Health through important research.
- Admiral William McRaven, a University of Texas at Austin alumnus responsible for the raid that claimed Osama Bin Laden’s life, brought the house down with a commencement address that went viral.
- The inaugural “40 for 40″ two-day fundraising effort more than tripled its goal of $40,000, with a total of more than $128,000 raised in just 40 hours.
- William McRaven, B.J. ’77, was named the next chancellor of the University of Texas System. Here are “10 Things You Need to Know” about him.
- The University of Texas at Austin is a vast place, with more than 40 acres of campus containing untold collections, artifacts and treasures. Our #HiddenUT series begins to show “There’s More to UT Than You Know.”
- To coincide with the 12th annual Reading Round-up, professors shared “58 Books to Love This Summer (or Anytime).”
- The Texas Baseball team appeared in the College World Series for a 35th time, the most of any team.
- The Campaign for Texas ended with a bang, topping its $3 billion goal by $120 million and bringing to a close the state’s most ambitious nonprofit fundraising effort to date. The campaign’s last year raised a record-shattering $862 million, an amount believed to be a new single-year record for higher-education fundraising in Texas.
- The University of Texas at Austin often finds itself atop prominent college rankings, but Longhorns are also in the top spots on lists like “Happiest College” and “Coolest College Recreation Center.” Read about “The Other Rankings.”
- These “Five Great UT Ideas” prove that world-changing inventions come from the Forty Acres.
- The Longhorn Band put on some impressive performances during football games this fall, and members shared the “Secrets of the Longhorn Band” when explaining how they march in formation while staying in tune.
Longhorns fans share UT pride online, touting the university’s influence on social media. Take a look at some of our most popular posts during 2014, and share the stories again with your friends:
- UT researchers reported a needle-free Ebola vaccine protects monkeys 100 percent of the time, even a year after being vaccinated, from the virus.
- The Longhorn Band takes complex formations from the computer screen to the football field, revealing “Secrets of the Longhorn Band.”
- A legendary athlete, an Oscar-winning actor and an astronaut were only half of the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients.
- UT alumnus Matthew McConaughey picked up the Oscar for Best Actor, ushering in the “McConaissance.”
- Rows of U.S. flags offered a solemn reminder of the lives lost during the September 11 terrorists attacks.
- Students take a massive group photo in the shape of Texas.
- Scenic pictures of the #UTTower often bring out memories of college days among alumni online.
- Friendly jabs at opponents on the field help rile up the Longhorns spirit online.
- The Class of 2018 poses for a picture.
- Football fans loved seeing a New York Times map showing Longhorns fans dominate the Lone Star State.
- The famous turtles who live in the pond north of the #UTTower took a summer vacation while their home was cleaned.
- The Center for World University Rankings recognized The University of Texas at Austin as No. 29 among the world’s top 1,000 universities.
[Did you know UT is the No. 1 Most Influential University on Twitter?
Read more about “The Other Rankings.”]
One article after another slams liberal arts degrees and humanities education as lacking value. But members of the Texas State Board of Education engaged in heated battle recently over textbook approvals for one essential subject in the humanities: history.
History is a mainstay of public school curricula in this country. Yet politicians, university regents and op-ed columnists continue to argue that the humanities don’t matter.
If humanities education is a waste of resources, then why all the fuss about history books? Simply put: The humanities matter more than some are willing to admit.
Those who control history curricula control what young people learn about how America came to be. Those who control these curricula influence how students form national and regional identities, how they understand their roles as citizens, and who they deem as valuable contributors to society.
It is clear that Texans have polarizing opinions about how history should be taught in schools. Open discussion is necessary if we are to have a chance of ensuring the most accurate and useful textbooks are chosen.
In some sense, then, debates such as those recently among State Board of Education members might undermine the broader push to devalue humanities education. In fact, they point out just how much we all value history, revealing how powerful humanities education can be.
The recent vote to approve questionable teaching materials, however, perpetuates an ongoing attempt to dismantle the scaffold of critical thought upon which quality education is built. Demands that publishers alter some “negative” aspects of U.S. history resulted in many revisions toward the goal that students learn “to be proud American citizens.”
Instead, as one scholar put it, “students are usually surprised to find they have been provided a white-washed version of history. They are often outraged. They feel lied to.”
It does society a disservice to skew facts and blur the harsh realities of the past.
This practice can cripple students’ ability to analyze related events happening in the present. It would be difficult, for instance, to fully comprehend the Ferguson shooting, the resulting protests and the grand jury’s decision not to indict without some understanding of this country’s long history of systemic, institutionalized racism.
We cannot move forward if we don’t know how we got here.
We must start acknowledging that the humanities are valuable to public education and valuable to our daily lives, across the boundaries of party politics.
Rather than being concerned with so-called positive or negative portrayals of America, members of the State Board of Education should be devoted to developing curricula that are accurate and unbiased. And parents and educators must be aware of the gravity of the board’s decisions because they affect youths throughout Texas and across the nation.
We delude ourselves to think that education in the humanities — including in history, literature and culture — could ever be a waste of resources. We inhibit learning when we limit students’ opportunities to think critically about who they are and where they come from. And we willfully waste human potential by denying the value of the humanities.
We need to change this way of thinking before more damage is done.
Morgan Blue is the program coordinator for the Texas Humanities Project at The University of Texas at Austin.
Related op-ed on Texas Perspectives:
How to Attract More Girls to STEM Careers
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To view more op-eds from Texas Perspectives, click here.
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Daron Roberts, director of UT’s new Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation
Nelson Mandela once said, “Sport has the power to change the world … it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
As a society, we should be doing everything we can to leverage the enormous popularity of athletics to develop leaders and cultivate integrity. We’ve long known that sports can teach critical virtues like teamwork and discipline. I’m excited to explore new ways to use the inherent power of sports as a force for good. By blending two areas in which UT has long been strong — athletics and leadership training — we are creating an important nexus of study and training.
What’s more, this center will further leverage our existing strength in these areas, a strength built in recent years by the establishment of our Sports Media Program, the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, as well as our strong cultural emphasis in integrity, one exemplified by Coach Charlie Strong’s nationally recognized “core values.”
This new center will be directed by a dynamic leader who served as president of our Student Government while a Longhorn student, studied law and public policy at Harvard, and went on to an assistant coaching career for three NFL teams and another university. He also has been named an Outstanding Young Texas Ex. It’s a great pleasure to welcome back to the Forty Acres Daron Roberts.
What starts here changes the world.
AUSTIN, Texas — Recognizing the need for college and professional athletes to serve as leaders and role models, The University of Texas at Austin is launching a new center that will help young male and female athletes succeed on and off the field as responsible citizens.
The Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation will leverage UT Austin’s expertise in academics and success in athletics to change the culture at a time when national headlines remain focused on high-profile athletes’ behavior and responsibilities. The first-of-its-kind program will also build on the university’s long-held philosophy of “winning with integrity.”
“As a society, we should be doing everything we can to leverage the enormous popularity of athletics to develop leaders and cultivate integrity. We’ve long known that sports can teach critical virtues like teamwork and discipline,” said university President Bill Powers. “I’m excited to explore new ways to use the inherent power of sports as a force for good. By blending two areas in which UT has long been strong — athletics and leadership training — we are creating an important nexus of study and training.”
Collaborating with colleges and schools across the campus, the new center will:
- Work with high school coaches to develop a training and certification program on best practices for character development of student athletes including how to detect, intervene and correct troubling or violent behavior.
- Develop a financial literacy program for UT student athletes that draws from financial professionals and former athletes and that can be emulated elsewhere.
- Promote faculty- and student-driven research that includes case studies related to decision-making by athletes.
A pilot certification program for high school football and women’s basketball coaches will begin in the summer of 2015. A one-hour pilot financial literacy course will then launch in the fall, potentially coinciding with anticipated legal rulings about compensating student athletes.
“The center will serve as the epicenter for the creation of character development curricula in the sports world,” said founding director Daron K. Roberts. “We aim to use interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurial thinking and strong relationships with outside groups to ensure that young athletes can all become responsible role models.”
Roberts is a former UT Austin student government president and NFL assistant coach. He currently serves as both a lecturer in UT Austin’s College of Liberal Arts and as an analyst on TV’s Longhorn Network.
The center will examine how athletes and athletics can positively affect the confluence of sports, media and society, building on UT academic scholarship and courses that examine those issues. These include the Texas Program in Sports and Media; the sports management major; the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports; and faculty research into such areas as race and sports, the history of sport and doping.
The new center will also work closely with the Athletics department, which is already a national model in helping students excel academically.
"We are looking forward to working with Daron to implement the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation here at The University of Texas,” said men’s Athletics Director Steve Patterson. “It will build on the quarter century of leadership, which Daron has recognized in his own words as 'the most progressive offering of professional and personal development initiatives that (he has) seen in the country.' This combined effort should integrate well with both The University and Texas Athletics core values and hopefully serve as a model that can be expanded to enhance the personal growth and collegiate experience of all Texas students."
Longhorns football coach Charlie Strong, who has drawn widespread attention and praise from NFL leaders for his core values such as honesty and respect for women, also welcomed the new center.
"Everything we do at The University of Texas is about the overall development of student athletes," Strong said. "What they do on the field, in the classroom and in the community are all really important parts of these young people becoming adults. If they take advantage of all of the resources and opportunities they have here, they are putting themselves in a position to grow as people, earn their degrees and have very bright futures.”
The center will be funded through the president’s office for three years, largely with revenue from the Longhorn Network. It will also seek collaborations and partnerships with private, nonprofit and advocacy groups in an effort to become financially self-sufficient.
“The University of Texas at Austin has long been a national leader in academics and athletics,” said Cameka Crawford of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “The development of this center is an example of the role that universities and student athletes can play in helping to change our culture’s perception of dating violence and sexual assault, particularly on college campuses.”
“Daron Roberts is an outstanding choice to lead the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "It is critically important for all of us to work together on developing qualities of high character in athletes at all levels. We know that Daron has the skills to move the ball down the field on this initiative and we look forward to supporting him.”
Jon Brumley Texas Venture Labs (TVL) will award two scholarships valued at $50,000 each during a shark-tank style pitch competition Feb. 20, 2015, as part of their third annual TVL Scholarship Competition for student entrepreneurs who pursue their MBA degrees at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business.
The scholarship package provides financial and consulting assistance to the student entrepreneurs. The TVL Scholarship Competition is the only one of its kind and has helped the McCombs School of Business continue to grow its nationally ranked entrepreneurship program while enabling students to start their own businesses.
Each scholarship includes $10,000 a year to cover tuition and fees and in-state tuition discounts of $15,000 per year. In addition, the winners’ companies receive ongoing support from the Texas Venture Labs staff, including Rob Adams, TVL director and McCombs faculty member.
“The TVL Scholarship is a great way for aspiring student entrepreneurs to connect with the McCombs entrepreneurship community and vet their ideas with experienced Austin entrepreneurs and McCombs faculty,” said Justin Key, who won one of last year’s scholarships winners with his idea for Plot Guru — an application that aims to socialize the online television viewing experience through real-time interactive games and trivia delivered to mobile devices while viewers watch their favorite TV shows.
“The connections and experience I gained through my participation in the TVL Scholarship Competition have been a huge help as I continue to work on launching my business while at McCombs,” Key said.
The scholarship application opened Oct. 1 and final decisions will be made in February. Prospective students are required to submit a business plan and short video of their pitch to be considered for the scholarship. More information can be found on the TVL website.
The University of Texas at Austin has been named to the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service. The honor is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
The honor recognizes the university’s excellence in general community service and education-focused outreach initiatives. The six campus-wide programs that helped UT Austin earn its spot on the honor roll are the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s The Project, UT Outreach, Academic Service-Learning, UT Elementary School, DDCE Faculty Fellows Program, and the School of Law’s Pro Bono Clinics.
The national award further affirms the university’s commitment to strengthening community-university partnerships and increasing college pathways for underserved students in Texas and beyond.
“We’re excited that The University of Texas at Austin has been recognized for community service efforts that help improve the quality of life for underserved populations. We would not be able to achieve such an honor without the strong commitment of UT students to volunteer their time and talents to help UT Austin meet its mission of service and to the faculty and staff across campus who are dedicated to academic service-learning,” said Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. “We estimate that an astounding 82 percent of UT Austin students engage in community service each year, contributing 1 million hours of service.”
The Corporation for National and Community Service has administered the award since 2006 in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as the American Council on Education, Campus Compact and the Interfaith Youth Core. Visit this website for more details.
AUSTIN, Texas — A new computational technique developed at The University of Texas at Austin has enabled an international consortium to produce an avian tree of life that points to the origins of various bird species. A graduate student at the university is a leading author on papers describing the new technique and sharing the consortium’s findings about bird evolution in the journal Science.
The results of the four-year effort — which relied in part on supercomputers at the university's Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) — shed light on the timing of a "big bang" in bird evolution, rearrange evolutionary relationships between some bird species and provide new insights on the origins of song pattern recognition in birds, as well as a host of other avian traits.
To build the new bird tree of life, researchers first sequenced the complete genomes of 48 living bird species. With about 14,000 genomic regions per species, the size of the data sets and the complexity of analyzing them required a new computing method, which was led by computer scientists Tandy Warnow, an adjunct professor at The University of Texas at Austin and professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Siavash Mirarab, a graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin.
Previous bird evolutionary trees were based on analyses of a few dozen genes as opposed to this latest study, which analyzed entire bird genomes. Those earlier studies did use more bird species (about 200 compared with 48), but with hundreds of times more genetic data per species in the latest study, the new bird family tree draws from far more data, resulting in some surprising findings such as that flamingoes are more closely related to pigeons than to pelicans and other water birds.
"In the computer science community, we often focus on how to make faster tools to analyze big data sets," said Mirarab, co-lead author on one of Science’s major papers about the project. "This project is exciting because it shows that it's not just about being bigger and faster. Simply having more data doesn't make you more accurate. You have to come up with more intelligent ways to analyze your data."
By testing the new technique, called statistical binning, on simulated data sets, the team demonstrated that their approach is more accurate than previous techniques.
The entire effort to construct an avian evolutionary tree took 400 years of CPU time and required the use of parallel processing supercomputers at TACC, the Munich Supercomputing Center and the San Diego Supercomputing Center. For the statistical binning portion alone, developing and testing the method took over 100 years of CPU time, divided between TACC and the Condor Cluster in the university's Department of Computer Science.
"TACC was essential," said Mirarab. "It's where most of the work on the statistical binning paper was done. We couldn't have done it without these supercomputers."
Mirarab and Warnow are part of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium, which has so far involved more than 200 scientists from 80 institutions in 20 countries.
The consortium is led by Guojie Zhang of the National Genebank at BGI in China and the University of Copenhagen, Erich D. Jarvis of Duke University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and M. Thomas P. Gilbert of the Natural History Museum of Denmark.
The group's first findings are being reported nearly simultaneously in 23 papers — eight in a Dec. 12 special issue of Science and 15 more in Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals.
Mirarab was also co-lead author on a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October that used a different computational technique to reveal important details about key transitions in the evolution of plant life on our planet.
The National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute funded Warnow and Mirarab.
For an interactive graphic of the new bird tree of life, go to: http://news.illinois.edu/infographics/birdtree.html
For an audio slideshow of the 48 bird species and their sounds, go to: http://youtu.be/jM2BRSeb7S8
The University of Texas at Austin has established two unique, integrated three-year dual degree programs blending the study of public policy and law. Offered by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the UT School of Law, these are the only such programs among top ranked public affairs and law schools in the United States. The programs begin in the summer, and applications for admission in 2015 are now being accepted.
“Great leadership can emerge from many different disciplines,” said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “But when we combine law and public policy in a strategic way like this, we have the chance to create leaders who are even more multifaceted and effective. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact this offering has on the leadership landscape of Texas and the nation.”
The two programs, combining a doctorate in jurisprudence (JD) with either a master of public affairs (MPAff ) or master of global policy studies (MGPS) degree, include an integrated curriculum that emphasizes the intersection between the two fields. By combining legal and public policy expertise, graduates will be uniquely prepared to enter and thrive in a number of fields that are shaping the modern interconnected world. Designed to provide students with marketable professional skills and expanded career options, these programs target students with strong interest in both law and public policy.
“The world’s most pressing issues do not come in neat little disciplinary packages,” said Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School. “We want to equip our graduates to take on these critical challenges, whether they are confronted with legal considerations or policy debates, whether they are managing an agency or arguing before a judge. Our dual degree graduates will be able to analyze quantitative data and work closely with policymakers at the same time that they can interpret court opinions and offer legal advice.”
“The School of Law and the LBJ School aim to produce graduates who are poised for leadership in public life in Texas, the U.S. and the world,” said Ward Farnsworth, dean of the School of Law. “These dual degrees give our students a great way to prepare to rise to the top in politics, law and government. We’re excited about the new opportunities.”
The new dual degree programs are intensive and include integrated courses in addition to traditional core courses and electives in each field. The unique curriculum strengthens the quality of the program while allowing students to finish a year earlier than in more traditional four-year programs.
The MPAff/JD program will combine advanced studies of legal and policy issues arising in government, nonprofit and legislative settings with a focus on the domestic arena. The MGPS/JD program will combine advanced studies of globalization and international affairs with a focus on international law.
Students will be required to complete a policy research project at the LBJ School, working in teams to apply their research and analytical skills in law and policy on real-world projects for clients. The programs also include a summer internship, funded with a guaranteed $7,500 stipend, which will allow students to work in professional positions combining law and policy issues.
Imagine running a marathon with only a week’s worth of training.
Sure, you might jog a few miles here and there in the months before the race, but you really only get down to brass tacks just before the big day. Beads of cold sweat drip down your face the moment you step up to the starting line. You try to clear your head, but it’s too groggy from all the late-night tossing and turning. Why didn’t you take the time to train? How will you ever reach the finish line?
Does this scenario sound familiar? Maybe that’s because a 26.2-mile race and final exams both involve months of hard work broken up into small, manageable increments. Those who wait until the last minute to train are likely to bonk — or worse — forfeit altogether.
At the Longhorn Center of Academic Excellence (LCAE) and the Sanger Learning Center, Sharmin Sharif is something of a head coach to her student mentees. An accounting sophomore in the McCombs School of Business, she has studying down to a science — literally. At both centers, she teaches research-based study strategies to her fellow students and shows them how to stay on top of their own training calendar. Like any good coach, she tracks her students’ progress at the LCAE, motivating them to keep up momentum and finish strong.
Just in time for finals, Sharif shares some studying do’s and don’ts. Read on to learn how to drop those poor study habits and gain a competitive edge.We’re in the thick of finals week. Why do you seem so calm?
There’s a trick to alleviating test anxiety and stress. Throughout the semester, I have been staggering my study sessions in small increments. I keep a simple one-page weeklong spreadsheet for blocking out study sessions throughout the entire day — from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. If I stick to the schedule, I can relax right before finals. This is a highly effective system that I share with my student mentees. I’ll even keep their schedules on hand and follow up with them to see how much progress they’re making during the week. This not only reminds them to study, it also gives them an extra incentive to follow through.What is the best way to prepare for a big exam?
Do not wait a few days to review your notes from class. Research shows that spending at least 30 minutes to an hour a day going over your notes after class — while the information is still fresh — will help you retain 60 percent of knowledge, as opposed to only 40 percent if you procrastinate. This strategy will not only help you stay on top of the material throughout the semester, it will also give you confidence and a sense of calm when taking the exam. This is especially helpful for those who suffer from test anxiety.Are late night study sessions worthwhile?
That all depends on your own personal time clock. If you’re more mentally alert late at night, then go for it. But if you’re more productive and efficient earlier in the day, that’s when you should block out your study time. You should also pay attention to the time of day when you are at your sharpest. I’m a morning person, so that’s when I tackle my toughest subjects. I save the easier subjects for later in the day when I’m more likely to be tired.Aside from cramming, how else are students sabotaging themselves?
Another terrible study habit many of us learned in high school is to simply memorize facts and details. Instead, you should be looking at your notes with a critical eye and asking questions about things that don’t make sense. Make use of your professor’s office hours and ask broad questions. Even if you don’t have any questions, listen to other students’ questions and take more notes. This is called “input/output” learning. Input learners passively memorize facts and details. Output learners, however, are more successful at retaining knowledge because they’re actively finding holes in their notes and asking questions to understand the big picture.How can study guides help or hurt students?
Study guides can be useful if you use them as just that: a guide. It all goes back to “input/output” learning. If you passively use the study guide by memorizing the answers, you’re not going to be prepared for broad-based questions, which inevitably will be on the test. The study guide should really only be used as a reference point for when you find holes in the notes that you’ve been actively reviewing all semester long.Do study groups help?
I work better alone, but it really depends on the person. If you don’t trust yourself to stay away from social media and YouTube videos, a study group could be the answer. Just make sure you surround yourself with people who want to work, rather than friends who just want to turn it into a social hour.Speaking of social media, how do you avoid these constant distractions?
It’s important to minimize distractions as much as you can. Personally, I can’t cut myself off from social media because my family lives in another country and that’s really how we stay connected. In my weekly study schedule, I have a safety margin for email and Facebook. Some people turn off their cell phones or turn off their alerts. Others deactivate their Facebook accounts until finals are over. No matter what your system is, you should make some sort of strategy for keeping those online distractions at bay.
More about the Longhorn Center of Academic Excellence: Housed within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, the center provides academic support and peer-coaching services for all UT Austin students. In one-on-one meetings, peer coaches are available to help students create personal plans for academic success. Go to this website to book an appointment.
More about the Sanger Learning Center: Housed in the School of Undergraduate Studies, the center is the university’s main resource for academic support. Services include peer academic coaching, one-on-one tutoring, self-testing and more. Go to this website to book an appointment with a peer academic coach.
When pundits and black leaders bemoaned the irony that a Ferguson grand jury failed to indict Officer Darren Wilson on the same day that slain civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, few noted another cruel irony.
Just as Wilson walked free despite having killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, Marissa Alexander, the battered black woman initially sentenced to 20 years in Florida for firing a warning shot as her abusive ex-husband approached, headed back to prison to serve an additional 65 days on top of the three years she has already served.
Alexander accepted the plea in the face of new charges filed against her, charges that would have amounted to 60 years in prison had she been convicted.
Also absent from the cries are the names of too many other African Americans that have been cut down like Brown. People such as Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Yvette Smith, and most recently, Tanisha Anderson.
A few weeks ago, Anderson’s family called 911 for an ambulance to obtain medical and mental health assistance for the 37-year-old woman. Instead of help, Cleveland police officers slammed the woman on the pavement outside of the family’s home. She died shortly thereafter.
But these are not the only oversights.
Many of the condemnations of police brutality have excluded the experiences of black women who have been sexually assaulted by police officers. The ongoing media blackout surrounding the case of 13 black women allegedly assaulted by a police officer in Oklahoma City may be the hardest evidence of the devaluation of African American women’s lives.
The women have testified to rape, forcible sodomy and sexual battery. These are among the 36 felony charges leveled against Daniel Holtzclaw. Yet the alleged victims remain dislocated from the black community’s rage against racist policing and a broken justice system.
As we move toward turning the tragic death of Michael Brown into a movement that seeks real change in the U.S. criminal justice system, we must include black women’s experience of state-sanctioned anti-black violence.
That means demanding that the Department of Justice investigate the Oklahoma judge who granted and reduced bail in the Holtzclaw case in addition to demanding that the DOJ bring charges against Darren Wilson and the Ferguson Police Department.
It also means rewriting the laws so that it isn’t nearly impossible to indict police officers who commit homicide. And rewriting laws that also allow battered women to serve decades in prison for attempting to defend themselves.
More broadly, we need a complete overhaul of the justice system — everything from the nationwide implementation of cop-body cams, to the implementation of equitable sentencing beginning with how black and white suspects are investigated and charged.
We need better accountability and oversight of the ways that prosecutors adjudicate cases involving African Americans, who we know as a group are disproportionately targeted by police. One of the most egregious examples is that despite parity in black and white drug use, African Americans constitute the vast majority of those arrested for illegal narcotics.
Here again, we cannot fail to stress that this has directly and disproportionately affected black women too.
This blossoming movement must also consider the relationship between police brutality and police abdication — namely, police failure to protect and value black lives. This has profound implications for black women because not only does it draw attention to police violence against black women, it also calls attention to the ways that police failure to protect black women has mortal consequences.
You have to wonder how different things might have been for Marissa Alexander if she could have relied on police protection when her abusive ex-husband came back around. Given the fate of black folks such as Tanisha Anderson and Michael Brown, it’s painfully clear why she took her chances and fired that warning shot instead.
Kali Nicole Gross is an associate professor and the associate chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at The University of Texas at Austin. She is author of the award-winning book “Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910.” She is a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.
Related op-ed on Texas Perspectives:
Black Feminism Lite? More Like Beyoncé Has Taught Us Black Feminism Light
Black Women are Already Dead in America
Immigration Policy Battle is a Larger Fight Over Votes and Government Control
To view more op-eds from Texas Perspectives, click here.
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New Study Measures Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Production and Offers Insights into Two Large Sources
Researchers find a small percentage of wells accounts for the majority of emissions.
AUSTIN, Texas — A team of researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and environmental testing firm URS reports that a small subset of natural gas wells are responsible for the majority of methane emissions from two major sources — liquid unloadings and pneumatic controller equipment — at natural gas production sites.
With natural gas production in the United States expected to continue to increase during the next few decades, there is a need for a better understanding of methane emissions during natural gas production. The study team believes this research, published Dec. 9 in Environmental Science & Technology, will help to provide a clearer picture of methane emissions from natural gas production sites.
The UT Austin-led field study closely examined two major sources of methane emissions — liquid unloadings and pneumatic controller equipment — at well pad sites across the United States. Researchers found that 19 percent of the pneumatic devices accounted for 95 percent of the emissions from pneumatic devices, and 20 percent of the wells with unloading emissions that vent to the atmosphere accounted for 65 percent to 83 percent of those emissions.
“To put this in perspective, over the past several decades, 10 percent of the cars on the road have been responsible for the majority of automotive exhaust pollution,” said David Allen, chemical engineering professor at the Cockrell School and principal investigator for the study. “Similarly, a small group of sources within these two categories are responsible for the vast majority of pneumatic and unloading emissions at natural gas production sites.”
Additionally, for pneumatic devices, the study confirmed regional differences in methane emissions first reported by the study team in 2013. The researchers found that methane emissions from pneumatic devices were highest in the Gulf Coast and lowest in the Rocky Mountains.
The study is the second phase of the team’s 2013 study, which included some of the first measurements for methane emissions taken directly at hydraulically fractured well sites. Both phases of the study involved a partnership between the Environmental Defense Fund, participating energy companies, an independent Scientific Advisory Panel and the UT Austin study team.
The unprecedented access to natural gas production facilities and equipment allowed researchers to acquire direct measurements of methane emissions.
Study and Findings on Pneumatic Devices
Pneumatic devices, which use gas pressure to control the opening and closing of valves, emit gas as they operate. These emissions are estimated to be among the larger sources of methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that 477,606 pneumatic (gas actuated) devices are in use at natural gas production sites throughout the U.S.
“Our team’s previous work established that pneumatics are a major contributor to emissions,” Allen said. “Our goal here was to measure a more diverse population of wells to characterize the features of high-emitting pneumatic controllers.”
The research team measured emissions from 377 gas actuated (pneumatic) controllers at natural gas production sites and a small number of oil production sites throughout the U.S.
The researchers sampled all identifiable pneumatic controller devices at each well site, a more comprehensive approach than the random sampling previously conducted. The average methane emissions per pneumatic controller reported in this study are 17 percent higher than the average emissions per pneumatic controller in the 2012 EPA greenhouse gas national emission inventory (released in 2014), but the average from the study is dominated by a small subpopulation of the controllers. Specifically, 19 percent of controllers, with measured emission rates in excess of 6 standard cubic feet per hour (scf/h), accounted for 95 percent of emissions.
The high-emitting pneumatic devices are a combination of devices that are not operating as designed, are used in applications that cause them to release gas frequently or are designed to emit continuously at a high rate.
The researchers also observed regional differences in methane emission levels, with the lowest emissions per device measured in the Rocky Mountains and the highest emissions in the Gulf Coast, similar to the earlier 2013 study. At least some of the regional differences in emission rates can be attributed to the difference in controller type (continuous vent vs. intermittent vent) among regions.
Study and Findings on Liquid Unloadings
After observing variable emissions for liquid unloadings for a limited group of well types in the 2013 study, the research team made more extensive measurements and confirmed that a majority of emissions come from a small fraction of wells that vent frequently. Although it is not surprising to see some correlation between frequency of unloadings and higher annual emissions, the study’s findings indicate that wells with a high frequency of unloadings have annual emissions that are 10 or more times as great as wells that unload less frequently.
The team’s field study, which measured emissions from unloadings from wells at 107 natural gas production wells throughout the U.S., represents the most extensive measurement of emissions associated with liquid unloadings in scientific literature thus far.
A liquid unloading is one method used to clear wells of accumulated liquids to increase production. Because older wells typically produce less gas as they near the end of their life cycle, liquid unloadings happen more often in those wells than in newer wells. The team found a statistical correlation between the age of wells and the frequency of liquid unloadings. The researchers found that the key identifier for high-emitting wells is how many times the well unloads in a given year.
Because liquid unloadings can employ a variety of liquid lifting mechanisms, the study results also reflect differences in liquid unloadings emissions between wells that use two different mechanisms (wells with plunger lifts and wells without plunger lifts). Emissions for unloading events for wells without plunger lifts averaged 21,000 scf (standard cubic feet) to 35,000 scf. For wells with plunger lifts that vent to the atmosphere, emissions averaged 1,000 scf to 10,000 scf of methane per event. Although the emissions per event were higher for wells without plunger lifts, these wells had, on average, fewer events than wells with plunger lifts. Wells without plunger lifts averaged fewer than 10 unloading events per year, and wells with plunger lifts averaged more than 200 events per year. Overall, wells with plunger lifts were estimated to account for 70 percent of emissions from unloadings nationally.
Additionally, researchers found that the Rocky Mountain region, with its large number of wells with a high frequency of unloadings that vent to the atmosphere, accounts for about half of overall emissions from liquid unloadings.
The study team hopes its measurements of liquid unloadings and pneumatic devices will provide a clearer picture of methane emissions from natural gas well sites and about the relationship between well characteristics and emissions.
The study was a cooperative effort involving experts from the Environmental Defense Fund, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, BG Group PLC, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., Pioneer Natural Resources Company, SWEPI LP (Shell), Statoil, Southwestern Energy and XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest of its researchers. Lead researcher David Allen serves as chair of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board and in this role is a paid Special Governmental Employee. He is also a journal editor for the American Chemical Society and has served as a consultant for multiple companies, including Eastern Research Group, ExxonMobil and the Research Triangle Institute. He has worked on other research projects funded by a variety of governmental, nonprofit and private sector sources including the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the American Petroleum Institute and an air monitoring and surveillance project that was ordered by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Adam Pacsi and Daniel Zavala-Araiza, who were graduate students at The University of Texas at the time this work was done, have accepted positions at Chevron Energy Technology Company and the Environmental Defense Fund, respectively.
Financial support for this work was provided by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, BG Group PLC, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., Pioneer Natural Resources Company, SWEPI LP (Shell), Statoil, Southwestern Energy and XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
Major funding for the EDF’s 30-month methane research series, including their portion of the University of Texas study, is provided for by the following individuals and foundations: Fiona and Stan Druckenmiller, the Heising-Simons Foundation, Bill and Susan Oberndorf, Betsy and Sam Reeves, the Robertson Foundation, TomKat Charitable Trust and the Walton Family Foundation.
AUSTIN, Texas — For the first time, The University of Texas at Austin presents UT Night at the Trail of Lights, featuring the trail’s iconic globe display revamped in brilliantly glowing burnt orange and showcasing student talent on the evening of Dec.16 at Zilker Park.
“We can think of no better way to begin the holidays than sharing Longhorn pride with community members while supporting a uniquely Austin tradition,” said UT Austin Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory J. Vincent. “We hope friends throughout the community will join us for what will be a memorable evening.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1.25-mile trail that attracted more than 425,000 people in 2013. General admission is free and gates are open from 7 to 10 p.m. Special access to the trail on UT Night includes a limited quantity of ZiP Fast Passes, available for purchase with a promotional passcode at $15 for ages 12 and up but not required for younger visitors. The passes provide front-of-line admittance at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. and entry to a UT Austin hospitality tent with heaters, hot cocoa and cookies.
“From the beginning, the goal has been to showcase our outstanding student performers and leaders on a community-wide stage in the heart of Austin, and to come together with the Longhorn community to celebrate the holiday season,” said Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly.
University groups and entertainers including the UT Chorus, Texas Spirit Group, Texas Latin Dance and the Punjabbawockeez will perform at various points on the trail during UT Night only.
“The extraordinary student talent at The University of Texas at Austin will turn the Trail of Lights burnt orange on Dec. 16 at UT Night,” said Gage Paine, vice president for student affairs.
Tickets for parking close to the entrance can be purchased online in advance. Other transportation options are the Trail of Lights Shuttle, MetroBus, MetroRail and on-site bike racks. More information is available at http://sites.utexas.edu/trailoflights/.
This year, UT Austin is helping to ensure the trail’s endurance by adopting the traditional globe display and updating it with orange lights to demonstrate the university’s motto, “What starts here changes the world.”
“The Trail of Lights and The University of Texas are both staples in the Austin community,” said Mario Espinoza, board president of the Trail of Lights Foundation and a UT Austin alumnus. “It’s the support of these community institutions that helps sustain the Trail of Lights for future generations, and we are so proud and grateful to have them on board for the 50th anniversary celebration.”
Seventy-three years ago on December 7 marked the beginning of a new era in world history.
After what President Franklin Roosevelt called a “dastardly attack” on our naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, the United States went to war with Japan.
For the next four years, young Americans fought some of the most brutal air, sea and land battles in the nation’s history against a hardened and vicious enemy. Young Americans had to push Japanese soldiers off of the islands they had occupied from Wake Island and Midway to the Philippines and Iwo Jima. In Okinawa alone, more than 50,000 Americans were killed and wounded. Japanese casualties were more than twice that.
Fast forward 73 years later and the future of the American relationship with Japan is again entering a new era.
Once the war ended after the emperor’s surrender in August 1945, the enemies in war became allies in building a new East Asia. The Japanese recognized that their effort to dominate the region had failed, and they turned to the United States for assistance in rebuilding their country.
Americans recognized that a vibrant and democratic Japan was crucial for world peace and the containment of communism, promoted by the Soviet Union.
Japan became the anchor for capitalism in Asia. American investments financed new factories for automobiles, electronics and computers.
The American military ensured Japan’s security and its access to food and industrial materials mostly acquired from neighboring Asian countries. Oil and other energy resources came from all over including Texas, Indonesia and the Middle East.
By the 1970s and 1980s, Japan emerged as the first “Asian tiger.” Its citizens were highly educated, productive and peaceful. They exported more to the United States and Western Europe than they imported, and they used their balance of payments surplus to invest abroad. In fact in the 1980s, many Americans worried that Japan was buying too much New York real estate.
There were also concerns that they were unfairly “dumping” their electronic products on the American market, undercutting U.S. companies such as Texas Instruments.
For all these economic tensions, however, American and Japanese citizens entered the new millennium as close partners, committed to joint prosperity through increased trade and cooperation.
That partnership has now changed radically.
With the opening of China to the international economy coupled with the precipitous decline of Japan, China has become the largest producer and consumer in all of Asia at breakneck speeds. Japan has fallen behind because of poor investment choices, corrupt government and population decline.
Japan’s population is aging rapidly, and its closed immigration policies prevent the arrival of young and innovative people from abroad. Simply put, the center of Asian entrepreneurship has shifted to China.
Because of this, our relationship is markedly different from how it was during the decades after the Pearl Harbor attack. So what does the future hold?
Japan will remain a major producer of automobiles and high-end electronic items for the United States, and Japanese citizens will continue to purchase American products. But future growth for American businessmen is not in Japan. Nor does the security of Asia revolve around Japan.
U.S. economic interests in China, along with India and Vietnam, will continue to grow, and Japan will get less American attention. The Japanese know this, and their government’s greater military assertiveness in recent years is an effort to become more self-reliant.
That does not mean the relations between the two former World War II adversaries will worsen. Americans will continue to trade with Japan and visit that country in large numbers, but more of these activities will include China and South Korea too.
The special bilateral partnership between the United States and Japan will become a looser regional relationship with neighboring countries involved. There will be more independence, more compromise and tougher bargaining for all business and security deals between the U.S. and Japan.
If the 73 years of U.S.-Japanese relations since Pearl Harbor have been intensely close, the next few decades will be more distant and multilateral. That should still be good for business and democracy not only in Asia, but in the wider world.
Jeremi Suri is the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs and holds a joint appointment in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the Department of History at The University of Texas at Austin.
A version of this op-ed appeared in the Houston Chronicle.
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Stereotypes and Misperceptions about Veterans Hurt Employability, and That Needs to Stop
What the Fall of the Berlin Wall Can Teach Us Today
Smarter U.S. Prostitution Laws Would Help AIDS Fight
To view more op-eds from Texas Perspectives, click here.
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Share this story on Twitter:December 8, 2014
This weekend, 3,095 students will enter the next phase of their Longhorn careers, graduating and becoming Texas Exes. I’d like to welcome the families and friends of our new graduates to the Forty Acres, and I join you in celebrating this momentous event in the lives of your loved ones.
To our new graduates, I look forward to seeing what you do with the education you earned here. We say “What starts here changes the world,” and we mean it. The Eyes of Texas — and the world — are upon you, so make the most of your lives. Stay in touch with your professors, your deans, and with me, and come back often to visit your alma mater. UT Austin should be a significant part of your life for the rest of your life.
Congratulations to all of our graduates and to all the people in their lives who have helped them reach this point.
Hook ’em Horns!
Jessica Glennie, Sai Gourisankar, and Mark Jbeily
I’m delighted to report that among UT’s thousands of outstanding students, we now have a Marshall Scholar and two Rhodes Scholars.
The Rhodes Scholarships are postgraduate awards supporting outstanding students for two years of study at the University of Oxford. Thirty UT Austin students have now received the award in its history. Approximately 83 scholarships are awarded each year. Our Rhodes Scholars are Jessica Glennie and Sai Gourisankar.
Jessica Glennie, an architecture student and member of UT’s varsity women’s rowing team, will focus on environmental policy and change during her time at Oxford. She is interested in the world’s environmental and social management issues and plans to be an architect and environmental leader. The Rhodes Scholarship is administered through various English-speaking nations. Jessica’s scholarship comes via New Zealand, where she attended Macleans College before coming to UT. A native of South Africa, Jessica received the Big 12’s 2014 Dr. Gerald Lage Academic Achievement Award.
Sai Gourisankar, a Plan II student, will focus on mathematical modeling, scientific computing and theoretical physics. After completing his two years at Oxford, he plans to return to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Sai is particularly interested in understanding and solving problems at the intersection of chemical engineering and mathematics. Sai is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars selected in the United States this year.
Mark Jbeily, also a Plan II student, has won the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which allows Americans to do graduate study in the United Kingdom. He is one of 34 Marshall Scholars this year. Mark is a recipient of the ROTC Leadership Award and wants eventually to help develop America’s national security strategy in a rapidly changing and interconnected world. Mark will pursue a Master of Philosophy degree in International Relations at Oxford University. At UT, he is currently drawing upon an interdisciplinary arts and sciences degree to study literature, philosophy, science, mathematics, and language (Arabic), as well as to explore courses in United States government and the classic texts that shaped and continue to shape our civic life.
I know you join me in congratulating Jessica, Sai, and Mark.
What starts here changes the world.
In this week of Thanksgiving, I’d like to thank each of you for what you do — day in and day out — to make this a life-changing institution. To our students, thank you for your Longhorn spirit and for making this campus a place I want to be every day. To our faculty, thank you for dedicating your lives to our students’ futures and for pushing the boundaries of our knowledge of the world. To our staff, thank you for your dedication and creativity — you make this place run. And to our alumni and friends, thank you for your pride in UT Austin and for your critical support. Here is a great compilation of reasons to be thankful.
Speaking of support, I know you all join me in cheering on Coach Strong and the Longhorns as they take on No. 5 TCU this Thursday at 6:30 at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. It’s been exciting to watch the team grow this season, and we’re looking forward to a bowl game. (And if you are coming to the stadium, don’t miss our great new exhibit in the North End Zone featuring memorabilia donated to UT by Willie Nelson.)
I also want to congratulate Coach Jerritt Elliott and our volleyball team for winning their fourth straight Big 12 Conference regular season title, their fifth in six years, and eighth overall. What a dynasty.
I hope that you have much to be thankful for this year, and that your time with family and friends will be relaxing and enjoyable.
Hook ’em Horns!
Kevin Bozic and Amy Young
This week marks another important milestone for UT Austin’s Dell Medical School — the appointment of its first department chairs. Dean Clay Johnston has recruited two nationally renowned innovators. Dr. Kevin Bozic will chair the Surgery Department, and Dr. Amy Young will chair the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department.
Kevin Bozic, a national leader in health care redesign, is a professor and vice chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC-San Francisco. He also is a visiting scholar at the Harvard Business School. He is a graduate of the UCSF School of Medicine and the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has conducted extensive research focusing on issues such as health care technology, cost-effectiveness analysis, shared decision making and value-based payment and delivery models.
Amy Young is currently a professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans. Previously, she had a long tenure at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where she served as program director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Program and later director of Medical Education. She also served as service chief for Obstetrics and Gynecology Harris County Hospital District-Baylor before being promoted to director of operations, HCSD-Baylor. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson and holds chemistry and biology degrees from Vanderbilt University. She is the immediate past president of the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
Dean Johnston next will appoint chairs to lead the departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, followed by Psychiatry, Neurology, and Population Health, as well as the director of the Livestrong Cancer Institutes.
These are exciting times for UT Austin and for health in Central Texas.
What starts here changes the world.