• UT chooses Greg Fenves as new provost

    Greg Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been appointed as the next provost of the University of Texas

    The provost is a position that typically deals with academic, research and curriculum affairs. Fenves is entering the position at a historical and dramatic moment for the University. UT has just started building the Dell Medical School, which Fenves will play a crucial role in. The University's leaders are also seemingly at odds with the UT System's Regents, who lawmakers have accused of trying to fire UT President William Powers Jr.

    Fenves said in a press release that his top prority is to build upon the University's foundations of academic excellence. 

     “These include strengthening the connections of our undergraduate students to the knowledge-creating communities in departments and programs, increasing the number of highly ranked graduate programs at UT, recruiting and retaining world-class faculty, and building the Dell Medical School as the leader for 21st century medicine and health care delivery," Fenves said. "By meeting these objectives, UT can offer unmatched opportunities for our students, the state of Texas and our nation.”

    In the same release, Powers praised Fenves.

    Greg Fenves is exactly the right person for the job, Powers said. He has led initiatives to improve research competitiveness, undergraduate retention and graduation rates, international and entrepreneurship programs, and fundraising for the Engineering Education and Research Center. He has the skills and experience to advance UT in many key areas." 

    Fenves is replacing current Provost and Executive President Steven Leslie. Leslie has served as the provost since 2007, and announced this past spring he was stepping down.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard.

  • Harry Ransom Center acquires McSweeney archives

    UT's Harry Ransom Center has acquired the archives of the McSweeney's publishing company, which contains manuscripts of books, essays, short stories, correspondence from many writers and award-winning design materials.

    The McSweeney's publishing company was formed in 1998 by Dave Eggers, an American writer who most recently published "A Hologram for the King." 

    "We're very happy to have the McSweeney's archive at the Ransom Center," Eggers said in a press release. "McSweeney's is celebrating our 15th anniversary this year, and we've had the honor and pleasure of publishing hundreds of authors, established and upcoming, while navigating the choppy seas of independent publishing."

    The archives include correspondence with writers David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits and more.

    Correction: This blog has been updated to reflect the correct date that the McSweeney's publishing company was formed.

    Follow Bobby Blanchard @bobbycblanchard.

  • Starbucks to improve Wi-Fi speed

    Starbucks’ locations around the country will get a Google upgrade beginning in August to improve customer Wi-Fi speed.

    Starbucks spokesperson Lily Gluzberg said customers can expect the new Wi-Fi service to roll out to more than 7,000 company-operated stores in the United States. The new service, partnered with Google, is set to make connection speed 10 times faster.

    Starbucks and Google are working with Level 3 Communications to make the faster speeds available.

    The upgrade will be implemented over the next 18 months. Gluzberg could not provide information on upgrades in the Austin area.

    Follow Christine Ayala on Twitter @christine_ayala.

  • The Morning Texan: Third special session underway

    Today is expected to be mostly cloudy, but still warm. According to the National Weather Service, the high is 101 degrees.

    Here is some morning reading:

    Yesterday's most read story: The City of Austin is currently planning where the Urban Rail may go. While the University wants it to go along San Jacinto Boulevard, students may prefer it in West Campus.

    What you have to read: Texas Gov. Rick Perry has announced a third special session. While transportation is the only item on the call right now, lawmakers are pushing Perry to add tuition revenue bonds and campus carry to the call. 

    In case you missed it:​ A UT graduate student has discovered water systems underneath glaciers in Antartica, potentially changing the way climate scientists understand how sea levels can rise around the world.

  • Some lawmakers hope for campus construction money in third special session

    Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back for third 30-day special session Tuesday to deal with a $4 billion hole in transportation funding. Although Perry has only put transportation funding on the agenda, some lawmakers hope they will be able to pass key measures in higher education policy this time around.

    Minutes after the governor decided to keep them in Austin, lawmakers filed at least three bills to fund campus construction projects at the state's higher education institutions. Perry has given no indication that he will add the so-called tuition revenue bonds to the agenda but has said in the past he would keep an open mind after the Legislature passed a transportation bill. The Legislature can only act on items the Perry puts on the agenda.

    SB 10, a campus construction bill, was filed on Tuesday with 22 senators signed on as authors. Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, also filed bills for campus construction projects. UT-Austin is currently hoping to receive $95 million for a new engineering building. 

    Rumors were rampant on social media that the governor would add campus construction projects and measures for a concealed firearms on campus to the agenda, but by Tuesday evening only transportation was on the call.

    "When it comes to transportation, the stakes facing our state could not be higher, and a failure to act now could take years - if not most of a decade - to correct, as traffic congestion increases and harms our quality of life," Perry said in a statement.