University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas

Two professors at the University of Texas have won the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists, engineers and inventors by the U.S. government. They are only the fourth and fifth UT faculty members to win the prize since 1962.

Doctor Allen Bard, a professor in the Chemistry Department at UT, received the award for his outstanding achievement in electrochemistry. He developed an electrochemical microscope that analyzes the chemical makeup of very small surfaces.

2012 was a banner year for renewable energy. But in Texas and across the county, one energy story captured public attention like none other: fracking.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling practice used to extract natural gas from hard-to-reach deposits. Hydraulic fracturing fluid is pumped deep into underground wells to break up natural gas deposits. The fluid is then removed, and deposited into disposal wells, while the gas deposits are collected.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Turn on the History Channel, and you’ll find plenty of speculation about the Mayan calendar. The “long count” calendar comes to an end on Dec. 21, 2012 – and chances are you’ve heard what that’s supposed to mean.

David Stuart, a professor of art history at the University of Texas at Austin recently deciphered a hieroglyph that included a second reference to the end-date. “This is an important date,” Stuart tells KUT News.  But “the Maya never said anything about the end of the world … they never predicted or prophesied anything about what would happen.”

Greg Echlin, KUT News

The Texas Longhorns have advanced to the women’s volleyball championship game for the third time in four years.  The only thing standing in the way of a possible national title is Penn State. 

The Lady Lions has defeated the Longhorns in their last two final four appearances. Texas coach Jerritt Elliott hopes this will be different than their last trip to the title game in Tampa three years ago, a heartbreaking five-set loss against Penn State.

University of Texas School of Law

A controversial University of Texas law professor’s comments on race are drawing negative attention online.

In an interview with the BBC, Lino Graglia said African-Americans and Hispanics are less academically competent than whites. “I can hardly imagine a less beneficial or more deleterious experience than to be raised by a single parent,” Graglia said. “Usually a female, uneducated and without a lot of money.”

At that point, the interview interjected: “I’m black. I was raised in a single parent family. You’re saying I’m likely not as smart as a white person of the same age?”

Good morning. The National Weather Service says a freeze warning is still in effect through 10 a.m., before Austin warms to the mid-50s this afternoon. Here’s some stories KUT News has been working on:

“When the Senate Committee on State Affairs of state lawmakers got together Monday at the Capitol, they were urged to require companies to provide workers’ compensation insurance.

The Texas Department of Insurance says one out of five employees in the state works for a company that does not provide workers’ comp. That number has stayed relatively unchanged for two decades.”

“State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview), has announced his intention to challenge current speaker Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio.)

Following the announcement another Straus challenger – Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) – dropped out and put his support behind Simpson.”

On Saturday night, following Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Heisman win, some Aggies got so carried away by their excitement that they saw the man called “Johnny Football” everywhere.

The University of Texas’s December graduation also took place on Saturday.  It’s the university’s tradition to light the clock tower orange, with the windows lit to form the class year of the graduates.  So Saturday night, the clock tower bore a giant 12, in honor of the 2012 graduating class.

University of Texas Energy Institute

Update and correction: In a press release, UT announced that ​Dr. Raymond Orbach had “resigned.” It did not say, however, that Orbach will be staying at UT as a tenured professor. Orbach has only resigned as head of the Energy Institute, effective Dec. 31. This post has since been corrected. 

Original post: One University of Texas professor has retired and another has stepped down from a leadership role after a review found a conflict of interest in a controversial report on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

As KUT News previously reported, the report from the UT Energy Institute, “Separating Fact From Fiction in Shale Gas Development,” stated that fracking, when executed properly, doesn’t contaminate groundwater. But StateImpact Texas reported that the study's leader failed to disclose financial ties to the drilling industry, including a seat on the board of a drilling company.  

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

On the agenda for Thursday morning's meeting of the University of Texas System Board of Regents is a discussion on a topic near and dear to the pocketbooks of many students and their parents: student loan debt.

With student loan debt now surpassing national credit card debt, part of UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa's framework for advancing excellence, which was approved in 2011, called for the formation of a task force to study the issue. The task force's report, which includes recommendations on how the system can help ease the burden on students, will be presented at Thursday's meeting.

KUT News

A group that formed in 2011 in response to a prominent push for higher education policy proposals it viewed as misguided released a report on Thursday that makes a case for the value of the state's flagship universities: the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education report was written by Michael McLendon, a professor of higher education policy and leadership at Southern Methodist University. He previously worked at Vanderbilt University, where he completed much of the work on the report.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Longhorns will play Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio this post-season.

The Longhorns have played the Oregon State Beavers twice. UT won both times. Oregon State does have a better record and a higher rank this season. The game is Dec. 29.

Some expected the Longhorns to head to the Cotton Bowl. Instead, that’s where UT’s Big 12 rival Oklahoma will play former Big 12 rival Texas A&M on Jan. 4.

The Sooners lost out on a chance to play in a BCS bowl when Mid-American Conference champ Northern Illinois moved up in the rankings and earned an automatic bid.

NASA/ESA/Andrew C. Fabian

Scientists at the University of Texas say they’ve discovered the most massive black hole ever identified.

It sits in the center of a galaxy called NGC 1277. It has a mass equivalent to about 17 billion suns.

Doctor Karl Gebhardt is an astrophysicist at UT, and a member of the team that made the discovery. He says their finding could help us better understand the way galaxies are formed.

A trial is underway to determine who owns a Andy Warhol portrait of Farrah Fawcett: the late actress’s on-again, off-again companion, or the University of Texas.

UT and actor Ryan O’Neal face off in a Los Angeles courtroom today. When Fawcett died in 2009, she bequeathed her art collection to UT, her alma matter – including a silkscreened portrait of Fawcett made by famed pop-artist Andy Warhol in 1979.  UT reportedly hired a private investigator to track down the portrait.

MJ&M Facebook Page

An actor, a musician and UT’s head football coach are joining forces to help kids in need.

Mack Brown, Jack Ingram and Matthew McConaughey are putting together an event they’re calling “Mack, Jack & McConaughey" or "MJ&M."

There's not a lot of information right now—even the event's website says "additional details to be announced."

What we do know is that MJ&M will be a two-day, celebrity-filled special event held in Austin in April to raise funds for various children’s charities. The only charity already listed by name as one that will be supported is McConaughey’s just keep livin Foundation.

Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

Despite its glowing reputation, Austin has faced a gap when compared with other major metropolitan areas: the lack of a medical school and the cutting-edge research it can provide.

But that gap appears to be closing after Travis County voters approved a five-cent property tax hike this month to help finance a plan to overhaul the region’s approach to health care — including the construction of a research-intensive medical school that will be affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin.

Good morning. The National Weather Service says to expect highs in the 60s and gusty winds today. Here’s a look at stories KUT News has been working on:

"The Texas House has formed a committee to look into how the state would handle “sequestration.” That’s the package of automatic federal spending cuts and tax increases that take effect at the end of the year — the so-called 'fiscal cliff.' That includes about $109 billion in cuts.

The committee was put together by House Speaker Joe Straus, who said in a news release that he hoped Congress would be able to find a way to reduce the deficit without increasing taxes or cutting jobs."

"Today is the first day Texas lawmakers can file bills ahead of the 2013 legislative session. The 200 or so early bills are usually a hodgepodge of political statements, second attempts and high priority legislation. …

Several first-day bills filed by Republicans in 2010 focused on illegal immigration, and efforts to curb it in Texas. Maybe because of Mitt Romney's poor performance among Hispanics (or maybe not), there were no immigration bills filed by mid-afternoon today."

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will meet in Tyler this week and consider, among many things, whether to approve the construction of a system office building in downtown Austin that is projected to cost $102,417,000.

The UT System's downtown Austin offices are currently spread across five aging buildings — the oldest has been around for more than 130 years — with mounting maintenance costs. Officials determined that a change was in order. They decided that the best option would be to construct a 16-story building comprising 258,500 square feet of office space and garage capacity for more than 650 vehicles in a spot — close to the state Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin — where two of their current buildings sit.

The University of Texas at Austin community is invited to attend a public memorial service for Darrell K Royal today.

The longtime football coach passed away last Wednesday. He was 88 years-old.

The memorial service is being held at the Frank Erwin Center. The doors will open at 10:30 and the event will begin at noon.

University officials expect traffic in the area will be congested.

Austin Auction

An auction of Coach Darrell K Royal’s sports memorabilia, personal collections and historic artifacts is happening this Sunday.

The event had been planned for months but takes on new meaning after the longtime University of Texas at Austin football coach died on Wednesday. He was 88 years-old.

For fans that no longer have the opportunity to meet Coach Royal, it’s a chance for them to find a certain closeness to him.

“Before this even happened, Edith, Coach Royal’s wife Edith Royal, who is of equal importance, made the statement that she hoped that Darrells’s fans would be the ones to own these things now. She’s cherished them for a lifetime. And that was her wish that Darrell’s fans would come out and be able to share the memories by owning a piece of that history that they created," Chris Featherston, co-owner of Austin Auction, says.

Longtime University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal passed away this morning. He was 88-years-old.

Royal coached the Longhorns from 1957 to 1976 and led the team to three National Championships. Royal also served as athletic director from 1962 to 1979.

The University honored Royal in 1996 by renaming the football stadium, Darrell K Royal-Memorial Stadium. During the announcement, UT System chancellor William Cunningham said, “No individual has contributed more to athletics at UT-Austin than Darrell Royal. He is a living legend.”

Royal was the all-time winningest coach of the Longhorns.  KUT spoke with Royal's wife, Edith, last month. She said Royal enjoyed attending UT football games long after he retired from coaching the team.

A friend of the Royal family told KUT News that plans for his memorial services are underway. The LBJ Presidential Library has set up a memorial page for Royal with photos and a phone conversation between Royal and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

After the news of Royal's passing broke this morning, fans used Twitter to express their reactions and condolences:

Richard Justice, an correspondent (@richardjustice): "RIP Darrell Royal.  Man of integrity and humor, intimidating and kind, absolutely brilliant with people."

Brian Jones (@BJ_CFB), a former UT football player and current football analyst for CBS Sports: "Thoughts and prayers to the Darrell Royal family and Longhorn Nation!  We lost a great one!"

Cole Constien (@ColeConstien): "Thank you for the memories Darrell Royal.  You have a place in every true sports fan's heart.  Rest in peace."

Yvette (@YLoTexas): "Rest in peace Coach Darrell Royal.  A great man, champion and Texan.  The Eyes of Texas shed a tear today.  Hook 'em."

Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247), a football reporter for"Somber start to the day with the passing of Darrell Royla at age 88.  He's responsible for why so many cheer for the Longhorns."

Here's a statement from Governor Rick Perry on the passing of Darrell Royal:

“Darrell Royal was a coaching icon and the face of football in the Lone Star State for a generation of Texans. His legacy can be counted in national championships, but also in his unending devotion to his university and in the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease. Anita and I join Texans everywhere in mourning his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his beloved wife, Edith, son, Mack, and his extended family and friends.”

Current UT Football Head Coach Mack Brown also shared his thoughts:

"Today is a very sad day. I lost a wonderful friend, a mentor, a confidant and my hero. College football lost maybe its best ever and the world lost a great man. I can hardly put in words how much Coach Royal means to me and all that he has done for me and my family. I wouldn't even be at Texas without Coach. His council and friendship meant a lot to me before I came to Texas, but it's been my guiding light for my 15 years here.

"Coach gave so much more to the State of Texas and college football than he took away. He forgot more football than most of us will ever know, including me. His impact on the game, the coaches and players, the community and the millions of lives he touched, is insurmountable. He will be missed in so many ways.