• Severe rain causes widespread flooding in Austin

    Torrential rains Monday caused Austin-area creeks to overflow, flooding many of the city's streets.

    Much of Lamar Boulevard above Lady Bird Lake is underwater after Shoal Creek jumped its banks earlier this afternoon, essentially becoming a river. No injuries have been reported, but more than 250 low-water crossings in and around the city have been closed, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

    Hyde Park is also experiencing heavy flooding and reports of cars being swept away by floodwaters, according to KXAN. The Daily Texan urges its readers to stay indoors and away from any high water areas if at all possible.

  • University cancels commencement ceremony because of severe weather

    The University canceled its commencement ceremony, scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, because of inclement weather.

    “We share in the deep disappointment that cancellation will cause our graduates and their families,” President William Powers Jr. said in a statement. “We made every effort to stage the 2015 commencement as planned. We are very disappointed that we cannot proceed under this evening’s severe weather conditions. I want to personally convey my congratulations to all of this year’s graduates, and my thanks to our commencement speaker, Darren Walker.”

    Lightning early in the day prevented the University from fully setting up for commencement, and a forecast of continued thunderstorms and heavy rain convinced administrators to cancel the ceremony entirely. 

    According to a press release, the University has plans to continue with its regularly scheduled fireworks show, set to begin at 10 p.m.

    Although the University-wide commencement ceremony has been canceled, individual schools are continuing with their own convocations as planned.

    Austin has been placed under a flash flood watch until 7 p.m. Sunday. 

  • Budget committee reaches deal, prepares to release final budget for House and Senate vote

    After months of negotiation, the joint House and Senate Budget Conference Committee on Thursday evening solidified its final version of the state budget for the next two years. Although the final size of the budget has yet to be publicly released, it is expected to be around $210 billion, according to The Texas Tribune.

    The 10-member committee, composed of eight Republicans and two Democrats, hashed out the budget’s final details over the course of several days this week.

    According to reports, the conference committee’s budget will not include a $3 million transfer from HIV and STD prevention programs into abstinence education, which had been a contentious component of the House budget.

    The budget also includes the Senate’s proposed figure for public education, $1.5 billion, instead of the $2.2 billion the House proposed. Details about the budget’s higher education funding, which is distributed through a series of research funds and other targeted programs, are still to come.

    Once the full bill is released, it will go to the House and Senate for a vote before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

    To read more about the conference committee’s decisions, read The Texas Tribune’s coverage here

  • Regents debut new online learning tools

    The UT System Board of Regents unveiled a searchable research database and a mobile-based learning program at their meeting Thursday.

    The research database, called Influuent, collects and hosts all research done in the UT System. It allows users to search for research based on keywords, and searches can be refined by both content and institution. Researchers will also have their own personal pages displaying all research or intellectual property attributed to them.

    "It really opens your mind to the teams you can form and what's possible," said Dr. Stephanie Bond Huie, vice chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, who presented Influuent to the board.

    Along with Influuent, the board also demonstrated the System's new Total Education Experience, or TEx. TEx is a fully personizable learning program that allows students to track their degree progress in real time and speed up or slow down their progress as necessary. The program also assigns an academic coach for each student, and the mobile app lets students communicate with their coach or professor with the touch of a button.

    Dr. Steven Mintz, executive director of the Institute for Transformational Learning, said the quality of TEx sets it apart from other similar educational programs.

    "This has been designed by our faculty to ensure student success," Mintz said.

  • Third UT student diagnosed with mumps

    A third UT student from the Moody College of Communication was diagnosed with mumps, according to an email notification from University Health Services.

    The student is believed to have contracted the disease after being in contact with two other students whose mumps diagnoses were announced last week. According to the UHS email, the student attended a party at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house Saturday before being diagnosed. The chapter leadership is working with Austin and Travis County Health Services to notify people who attended the party.

    Mumps is a highly contagious disease by which those infected usually experience fevers, body aches, and tiredness before noticing a severe swelling of their salivary glands. UHS first reported a mumps diagnosis May 6.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps outbreaks rarely occur because the mumps vaccine started being heavily administered in the late 1960s.