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For those of us who live in Texas the border with our neighbors to the south is merely a thin ribbon of river. Eighty years ago farsighted leaders at the University of Texas recognized that teaching and research on Latin America would greatly benefit this state because of its Hispanic heritage. They took the words of Ashbel Smith, first president of the UT Board of Regents, to heart: “It belongs to Texas by right of our geographical position to furnish all this instruction to our neighbors on the other side of the Rio Grande.” Their extraordinary vision is now the premier Latin American studies program in the world. The articles in this DISCOVERY describe the University’s exemplary Latin American Initiative.


For more than 100 years The University of Texas at Austin has led the vanguard in public school outreach in this state. Today our faculty members conduct numerous innovative initiatives, often with dramatic results, for kindergarten through twelfth grade (K-12) teachers and students on and off the campus. This issue of DISCOVERY showcases a selected group.


The articles in this issue of DISCOVERY demonstrate one of UT Austin's important missions: providing service to society by making the world a better place. Through their scholarship and research, UT's faculty and staff contribute to a growth of knowledge which increases the understanding of our world and improves our quality of life. This DISCOVERY examines a broad range of research subjects across vast time periods, including articles which trace the past by uncovering secrets of the universe and prehistoric Texas, explain the present by studying immigration and health care for women, and build the future with groundbreaking research on cancer and space-based coastal mapping.


DISCOVERY focuses on the diverse research conducted by faculty at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. The articles cover a wide spectrum: public policy initiatives for Texas colonias, innovative look at wage inequality around the globe, the elderly in a multicultural society, impact of the inequality of wealth, income and opportunity in the United States, high-tech learning projects for disadvantaged children, state programs for ports, recent changes in urban communities, and the emergence of women in Mexican politics. Governor George W. Bush, Social Security Commissioner Kenneth S. Apfel, and Dean Edwin Dorn are contributing authors to the issue.


This issue of DISCOVERY is an example of great minds at work. It illustrates in an interesting way how engineering faculty researchers offer their intellect and experience to improve our lives. I hope these articles provide for you a notion of how engineering research contributes to the development of a more user-friendly world. Faculty in the College of Engineering do wide-ranging research, with external funding in excess of $80 million per year. Therefore, this issue can only provide a glimpse into the technological developments being made in the College.


DISCOVERY, in its twentieth year, seeks to deepen public understanding about the exceptional graduate research and scholarship that makes The University of Texas at Austin a premier national institution. This special issue of the magazine moves beyond its mission of featuring university research to showcasing the undergraduate experience on campus. Faculty who are exemplary teachers and scholars offer the reader a thoughtful discussion about their chosen profession. Throughout the University's history men and women faculty who loved teaching have made a remarkable difference in the lives of undergraduates. Many a person recalling their undergraduate years remember a teacher "who made our educational experience not just an intellectual one, but a personal transformation, and who changed the way we look at the world and how we live," writes engineering professor Philip S. Schmidt. This issue of DISCOVERY is dedicated to those men and women who brought about a "personal transformation" in the lives of their students.


The commitment of The University of Texas at Austin to prepare young people for the challenges of the future is the essence of a great teaching and research university. The University celebrates 1996 as The Year of the Child in response to the interests of our diverse and complex community. This DISCOVERY highlights a sample of the faculty's exciting scholarly research on children and families.


Two-Thousand-Yard Stareis the name of the remarkable cover portrait by Texan Tom Lea. When he sketched the young marine after the invasion of Peleliu, a Japanese-held Pacific island, Lea wrote "his mind had crumbled in battle, his jaw hung, and his eyes were like two black empty holes in his head." DISCOVERY commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the Second World War with this special issue written by scholars at The University of Texas at Austin. Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

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June 12, 2002
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