University of Texas at Austin

Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Constitution says the state will “provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a University of the first class.”

In 1984, that meant about half of every dollar in higher education came out of the state budget. Today, it’s closer to 13 percent at the University of Texas at Austin and 22 percent at Texas A&M University in College Station.

So, at that level, is the state really providing for the sort of education championed in its founding document?

That’s fodder for debate. Lawyers could probably generate a room full of words over the obligations imparted by the word “provide.” The bigger question is whether the state is doing enough, and whether doing enough — whatever that entails — necessarily requires more money.

KUT News

The class rank requirements for automatic admission into the University of Texas at Austin are getting more stringent.

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class.

That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.


The University of Texas System Board of regents voted unanimously this morning to join an initiative to provide free online courses to anyone through a non-profit organization called edX.

Right now, classes offered through edX are not for college credit. Instead, participants can earn a "certificate of mastery." But the UT System has plans to change that in order to help enrolled students take the classes they need.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa says that option would have a cost associated with it.

“What that tuition might be is going to have to be a decision made by the campus and, ultimately, by the board of regents," Cigarroa says. "So I can envision a multi-tiered approach. But, fundamentally, all the content that we provide in this massively open online course, you can have access for free, I can have access for free, our alumni can have access for free. But there’s also an opportunity for a multi-tiered approach.”

Wednesday, Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Fisher v. The University of Texas. The case asks whether including race as a factor for admission is constitutional. Debate around the issue has been heated.

Minority groups held a conference at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday and said affirmative action is necessary to right historic wrongs. They argued that underprivileged minorities remain underprivileged if they can’t attend flagship universities. And they argued that diversity in the classroom will help students deal with diversity in the real world.

But Lino Graglia, a constitutional law professor at UT who specializes in race and education (and is no stranger to controversial remarks on the topic), says affirmative action won’t fix this. He says the real problem is that many minority students aren’t ready for college when they graduate high school.

Caleb Miller for KUT News

A University of Texas at Austin student is facing a felony charge for hacking UT’s computer system.

University police say 19-year-old Garret Phillips flooded the registration site with information in April, shutting it down temporarily when students were trying to sign up for summer and fall classes.

But UTPD Sgt. Charles Bonnet says no personal information was put at risk.

“The type of attack that was launched was just a flood of information into the site which caused it to crash. There was no effort to extract any kind of information or view any kind of information," Bonnet says.

HID Global

Traffic is now clearing up around Stassney Lane and Manchaca Road after a gas leak at the intersection this morning. Schools in the area started on time. Here's a roundup of other news this morning:

More HID Global Incentives?

Travis County Commissioners will meet in executive session today to talk about whether the county will offer economic incentives to a company that’s considering relocating to the area.

The State of Texas is already offering HID Global $1.9 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund. And the City of Austin is considering offering the company close to a million dollars in rebates on taxes for real estate and equipment purchases. The city plans to hold a public hearing on the issue Sept. 27.

In return, HID Global would build a manufacturing and distribution center in Northeast Austin, and create 276 jobs over 10 years. HID Global makes products like ID cards and key-card readers.

Problems in Texas County Prisons

Today Texas lawmakers will take a look at problems facing county jails.

Boyer photo; stadium photo KUT News

Green Beret Staff Sgt. Nate Boyer fulfilled a long-time dream during last Saturday’s Longhorn football game against New Mexico. Boyer joined the team as a walk-on after his tour with the Special Forces in Iraq. Now he represents the Longhorns’ special teams as a deep snapper.

Boyer is a unique figure on the team. Being ten or so years older than his teammates, he brings a certain sense of maturity and imbues a breath of enthusiasm into the new season.

Having gone to a high school without a football team, Boyer said at today's Mack Brown press conference that his only advantage was his work ethic and his ‘no-regrets’ mentality. “I just felt confident that going through what I’d gone through, I could make the team and help out in any way and at least be a part of it,” Boyer said. 

KUT News

It has been more than two decades since a Texas university was selected to lead one of the National Science Foundation's prestigious engineering research centers, but the University of Texas at Austin has broken the streak.

UT-Austin has been selected to receive an $18.5 million federal grant over five years to establish and lead a center they are calling the Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies, or NASCENT. It will focus on developing manufacturing processes for microscopic computing technology that the center's leaders, Roger Bonnecaze and S.C. Sreenivasan, said could lead to foldable laptops and wearable devices.

The NSF's engineering research centers are strategically placed partnerships between the government, academia and industry. Led by UT-Austin, the partners that make up NASCENT include the University of New Mexico and the University of California at Berkeley as well as private companies like Texas Instrumnets, Lockeed Martin and others.

KUT News

We’re learning more details about the Longhorn Network’s deal with AT&T U-verse.

Texas U-verse customers with at least the U100 package can watch the network on channel 1609 (channel 609 SD). Outside of Texas, customers will need to have the U-verse U450 package to watch.

ESPN says the agreement will bring the network to more than a million Longhorn fans in Texas and throughout the country. The Longhorn Network has been around for one year but, up until now, has not been widely available.

Officials with ESPN say the deal to bring the Longhorn Network to AT&T U-verse happened early this morning.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

One of Austin’s biggest employers is getting ready to hand out raises.

University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers says merit-based pay increases for faculty and staff will go into effect Sept. 1.

The salary increases will vary by department and Powers says they aren’t huge – but will help the university hang on to talented faculty and staff.

Justice Department Supports UT’s Admissions Process

The Obama Administration says the University of Texas at Austin's consideration of race in admitting students is constitutional. 

The U.S. Justice Department revealed its support in a brief filed yesterday with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Department says UT does not use race as an absolute deciding factor and that it comes into play in relatively few admission decisions.

Supreme Court justices will hear arguments on the case, known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in October. Abigail Fisher is challenging the university’s admission policy, claiming that she was denied admission to UT in 2008 because she is white.

Perry Sends Military Aid to Combat North Texas Wildfires

Governor Rick Perry is sending Texas Military Forces aircraft and personnel to help fight wildfires in North Texas. Fourteen local and volunteer fire departments have been fighting the fires.

Two large fires are burning in Palo Pinto County, about 75 miles west of Ft. Worth. Together, they’ve burned more than 3,000 acres. The dry conditions, terrain, and high winds have allowed the wildfires to spread quickly.

As of yet, there are no reports of injuries or homes lost.

Nine West Nile Deaths in Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports that nine people have died from West Nile Virus. More than 160 people have been infected.

Here in Travis County, one person has died from the virus. As of yesterday, health officials were investigating a total of eight West Nile Virus cases.

According to the Centers for Disease control, Texas has seen the most cases of West Nile Virus and the most cases of the more serious, neuroinvasive form of the disease.

KUT News

Save Our Springs Ordinance Celebrates Twenty Years

20 years ago today, Austin voters approved a historic ordinance that changed the way the city handles growth.  The Save Our Springs water quality ordinance marked the first in a series of battles between environmentalists and developers.

A proposed development project by the international mining company Freeport McMoRan catalyzed a grassroots movement to protect the Edwards Aquifer and Barton Springs.

The Save Our Springs group gathered signatures and drafted an ordinance that limited construction along the Edwards Aquifer such that only 15 percent or less of the land could be paved.  The ordinance was put on the ballot and voters passed it.

KUT News

Business Can Sue New Braunfels Over Can Ban

The Associated Press reports that a judge has ruled that tourism businesses and others can sue New Braunfels over the city's so-called "can ban." The city says it will appeal the decision and that the ban remains in effect.

Floating on area rivers is a longstanding tradition during hot Texas summers – one often enjoyed with a few adult beverages in tow. But turnout on local rivers has been down over the last several years, attributable to flooding, drought and, according to ban opponents, a recent prohibition on disposable containers.

The ban was approved last summer by the New Braunfels City Council over concerns about the cost of cleaning up after visitors. Voters affirmed the ban last November when it was brought to a ballot referendum by opponents.  The ban went into effect this summer.

Liang Shi for KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin filed a brief Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court defending its use of race as a factor in admissions.

An applicant to UT filed the suit because she says she was denied admission in 2008 because she’s white.

The university says race is just one of many factors considered in admissions and that its use is necessary and constitutional.

UT-Austin President Bill Powers released a short video discussing the case. In it, he says officials are “confident the university will prevail.”

Watch What You Eat

A Minnesota company is recalling more than 15,000 pounds of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products – some of which was sent to a distribution center in Texas.

The meat products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The recall affects:

  • 5.6 oz. packages of "Armour Active Packs Turkey & Cheese Wrap" Package Code 1026090112 or Case Code 27815-17994
  • 5.6 oz. packages of "Armour Active Packs Ham & Cheese Wrap" Package Code 1026090112 or Case Code 27815-17995

Speed Limit Increase on 183A Toll Road

You’ll soon be able to drive faster on the 183A toll road.

The speed limit is going up from 70 to 75 miles per hour this morning. The new speed limit goes into effect as soon as the new signs are installed.

The speed limit increase affects more than 11 miles of highway stretching from RM 620 in Northwest Austin through Cedar Park and Leander.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

New Record Set for July Power Usage

Keeping the A.C. on all day may be a good way to stay cool, but not to help Texas' electric grid.

A new July record was set yesterday when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reported that demand on their electric grid peaked at 65,790 megawatts (MW). The previous record was set last July, during one of the hottest summers on record, at 65,432 MW.

Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

A UT professor has released research that could be a big problem for state testing.

Walter Stroup is a UT professor in charge of a pilot math program for middle school students in Dallas. The Texas Tribune writes that Stroup and two other researchers have compiled studies on the TAKS standardized test, which they say demonstrates an error related to the statistical method used to assemble the tests – suggesting that the tests are essentially useless at measuring effective classroom instruction.

Education company Pearson has a $468 million contract to write the state’s standardized tests through 2015. It is also responsible for the controversial STAAR test.