The University of Texas at Austin
  • In the Know

    By Marjorie Smith
    Published: April 5, 2010
    In
    Graphic created by Tillie Policastro

    Campus Kudos

    Texas Program in Sports and Media names first director
    Michael J. Cramer, former president of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars, and a professor in sports management at New York University, has been named the first director of the new Texas Program in Sports and Media. Cramer will be responsible for start-up leadership, fundraising and programming of the program, which includes overseeing development of the Richard Pound Olympics Archive and organizing the annual McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society. He also will teach part-time in the area of sports and media in the college.

    Record-setting powerlifter makes Fitness Hall of Fame
    Dr. Terry Todd, founder and co-director of the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports and former record-setting weightlifter and powerlifter, has been inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame. Todd, a faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, started his weightlifting career as an undergraduate at the university while he was still on the varsity tennis team, winning intercollegiate championships in weightlifting in the super-heavyweight class.

    Oshinsky awarded Cartwright Prize for book on polio
    History Professor David Oshinsky has been awarded the Cartwright Prize from Columbia University Medical Center for his research into the history of polio. He will also present the annual Cartwright Lecture later in April. The lecture series provides a forum for leading scientists and thinkers to review important medical research. Previous speakers and prize recipients have included nine Nobel laureates, top officials from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institutes of Health and a United States Senator.

    UT Elementary School names new executive director, principal
    The management board for The University of Texas Elementary School (UTES) has selected Melissa Chavez and Mary Ledbetter to become the new executive director and principal, respectively, for the school. The change comes following the departure of Dr. Ramona Treviño, UTES founding principal and CEO, to become chief academic officer at Austin Independent School District. Chavez has been the principal for the past two years and is also a doctoral candidate in the College of Education’s Department of Special Education. Ledbetter, who has been in the field of education for more than 20 years, has been in the role of assistant principal this year and has been a principal for Austin Independent School District in the past.

    Alum elected psychological association president
    College of Education alumnus Dr. Melba T. Vasquez has been elected president of the American Psychological Association (APA), a 150,000-member professional organization that represents psychology in the U.S. and works to advance psychology as a science. The APA is the largest professional association of psychologists in the world. Vasquez is a graduate of the Counseling Psychology Program in the Department of Educational Psychology. She is a psychologist in full-time independent practice in Austin.

    Hogg Foundation awards $20,000 fellowship to sociology doctoral student
    The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded the 2010 Harry E. and Bernice M. Moore Fellowship to Meredith Martin Rountree, a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology. The $20,000 fellowship will assist Rountree in her research of how physically and mentally stressful environments can affect a person’s desire to hasten death. She is studying death row prisoners who waived their right to appeals and sought their own execution, and comparing them to those who did not.

    Two high school students named Migrant Students of the Year
    High school students Rogelio Ortiz of San Juan, Texas, and Sofia Velazquez of Edinburg, Texas, have been named Students of the Year by the Migrant Student Graduation Enhancement Program. Each student received a $2,000 college scholarship funded by a gift from the Exxon Mobil Foundation. The Migrant Students of the Year were selected on the basis of obstacles overcome, overall academic achievements, participation and leadership in extracurricular activities, and their performance in distance learning courses offered by the university’s Migrant Student Program. Texas has the largest interstate migrant student population and the second-largest migrant education program in the nation.

    Press Mentions

    The New York Times: Among weathercasters, doubt in warming
    March 29

    The debate over global warming has created predictable adversaries, pitting environmentalists against industry and coal-state Democrats against coastal liberals.

    But it has also created tensions between two groups that might be expected to agree on the issue: climate scientists and meteorologists, especially those who serve as television weather forecasters.

    A study released by researchers at George Mason University and The University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was “caused mostly by human activities.”

    The Wall Street Journal: Job-search tips for new college graduates
    April 3

    The labor market may be tough for new college grads — but it’s not hopeless. Here are some of the popular tips university career experts offered for those who are still searching.

    Only opt for graduate school if you have a plan. “There are students who are, what I would say, punting and saying ‘Why don’t I get the graduate degree?’” said Matthew Berndt, director of career services for the communications school at The University of Texas at Austin. But that only makes sense if students know what they’re going to study and how it will help them get a better position once they’re finished. If that’s not clear, then “you’re still not any more capable of telling an employer what you want to do and why you want to work for them,” Berndt said.

    The Wall Street Journal: College grads’ outlook grim
    April 3

    Despite signs of life in the job market, the outlook for newly minted college graduates remains grim and many are trying new strategies for landing positions.

    Students are starting their job hunts months earlier than usual, while others are looking into short stints at positions outside their major.

    Certain regions of the nation are expected to do better than others. At The University of Texas at Austin, the communications school attracted 77 employers at its spring career fair, up from 51 last year. Meanwhile, Facebook Inc., which is opening an office in Austin, has been collecting student resumes to help fill 60 jobs.

    The New York Times: Life (and death) in the fast lane
    April 2

    I realize you don’t have the data in front of you, but hazard a quick guess. Which has received more media coverage: 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan combined; or the repeal of the nationwide 55 mph speed limit? You probably guessed the former. But there’s a good case to be made that the answer should be the speed limit. Why?

    According to a recent paper by Lee S. Friedman, Donald Hedeker, and Elihu D. Richter, the lifting of the federal 55 mph speed limit in 1995 was responsible for 12,545 deaths between 1995 and 2005.

    Kara Kockelman of The University of Texas at Austin, along with John Bottom and other contributors, prepared a report on the topic for the Transportation Research Board (the gold standard of transportation bodies). It showed that being on a road with a 65 mph limit instead of 55 mph means a 3 percent higher probability of a crash taking place.

    Kockelman et al. estimated that the difference between a crash on a 55 mph limit road and a crash on a 65 mph one means a 24 percent increase in the chances the accident will be fatal.

    The New York Times: Disabled immigration detainees face deportation
    March 29

    For lawyers offering free legal information at large immigration detention centers in remote parts of Texas, the task is difficult enough: coaching hundreds of detainees on how to represent themselves at assembly-line deportation hearings. But the lawyers soon discover a more daunting problem: many detainees are too mentally ill or mentally disabled to understand anything.

    These are among the findings of a yearlong examination of the way the nation’s immigration detention system handles the mentally disabled in Texas, where 29 percent of all detainees are held while the government tries to deport them. The study, conducted by Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center [and a grantee of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health], and Akin Gump, a corporate law firm, documents mistreatment at every stage of the process.

    Read last week’s In the Know.

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