• UT student diagnosed with mumps

    University Health Services notified students Wednesday afternoon that a student has been diagnosed with mumps.

    Mumps is a highly contagious disease. Symptoms usually include fevers, body aches, loss of appetite, fatigue, headaches and swelling in a person’s salivary glands.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps outbreaks are rare, but in May 2015, the University alerted students to three different cases of mumps.

    This year, UHS has created a webpage where they track the number of mumps cases on campus by week and include any announcements they send to students.

    The page also includes tips for preventing the spread of the disease and tips on what to do if students think they have come in contact with the disease.

    In an attempt to prevent further spread of the disease, UHS is asking students to call their hotline ahead of time or schedule an appointment before coming in to be seen. Additionally, for students who have never been vaccinated for mumps, UHS can vaccinate students, which could help students avoid contracting the disease if they are around others who have it.

  • Darrell Bazzell named senior vice president, CFO of University

    President Gregory L. Fenves named Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for finance and administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as senior vice president and chief financial officer of the University on Tuesday. Bazzell will assume his new role at UT on April 18.

    Bazzell worked as CFO for the University of Wisconsin-Madison for almost 13 years. He oversaw budgeting and financing for UW-Madison's medical school and academic medical center and worked with campus organizations to develop more efficient budgeting practices, according to a press release.

    At UW-Madison, he supported the First Wave initiative, which uses urban arts, spoken word and hip-hop culture to promote learning and diversity engagement.

    From 2001–2003, he served as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and has also worked with Wisconsin state agencies and the state legislature.

    Bazzell said he is honored to serve as the University’s new CFO.

    “As I considered this role and the financial challenges that confront public research universities, I was very impressed by the consistently high level of enthusiasm for UT Austin,” Bazzell said in a press release.

    Bazzell will take over for Mary Knight, who has served as interim CFO at the University since February 2015.  

    In an email to faculty and students Tuesday, Fenves said he thinks Bazzell's experience will help the University increase its collaboration and research innovation.

    “His collaborative style and his financial expertise will allow us to continue to support our teaching, research and service missions and to move the university forward.” Fenves said.  

  • Chancellor reveals cost of possible Houston expansion, said it’s “years” away from breaking ground

    Chancellor William McRaven revealed to lawmakers Wednesday the total cost of the UT System’s planned expansion into Houston: $15 million a year for the next 30 years.

    The System purchased the first portion of the land Friday as part of a larger plan to purchase a total of 300 acres in Houston to build a campus there. The expansion has come under criticism from lawmakers because of concerns about inhibiting the growth efforts of existing Houston-based institutions such as Rice University, the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.

    When speaking with lawmakers, McRaven emphasized the benefits to the state of expanding into Houston and said the System was years away from breaking ground on a new campus in Houston.

    “Our goal is to build something that will bring the best talent to the city for collaboration and innovation,” McRaven said, according to the Texas Tribune. “We want to astound people with our boldness. And we are beginning with a blank canvas... We are only limited by our drive, our imagination and our courage to challenge conventional wisdom.”

    McRaven is expected to address the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board tomorrow on the possible Houston expansion.

  • Psychology professor to lead initiative on educational innovation

    Under a new five-year initiative, the University will look into incorporating more technology into courses and experimenting with more innovative teaching methods.

    The initiative, Project 2021, will be headed by psychology professor James Pennebaker, according to President Gregory Fenves, who announced the initiative and appointment Tuesday morning.

    “Increasing the value of the undergraduate experience is a priority for the University,” Fenves said. “[Pennebaker] will help ensure our undergraduate students receive the maximum benefit of our campus through the integration of research and education.”

    In his new role, Pennebaker will coordinate offices at UT — including extended campus, learning sciences and the faculty innovation center —  to evaluate new teaching methods and course designs that better integrate technology and education in courses.

    “This is a rare opportunity to bring together new approaches to teaching and research to help the University shape the future of undergraduate education,” Pennebaker said in a press release.
    According to Joey Williams, interim communications director for the executive vice president and provost office, Pennebaker is a renowned social psychologist who has focused his research on understanding how students learn and communicate in groups, making him an ideal candidate for his new roles.

    Pennebaker said he is honored to be a part of an initiative as massive and exciting as Project 2021.

    “My goal is to work with various parts of the University to try to help prepare UT for the next generation of teaching and learning,” Pennebaker said. “President Fenves’s vision will establish UT as a leader in undergraduate training.”

    Pennebaker, who served as the psychology department chair from 2005 to 2014 and has worked at UT for nearly two decades, will also serve as special advisor to the provost for educational innovation. He has received many awards for his work in his field,  such as the Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology recently awarded by the American Psychological Association.

    “He’s known for being very innovative and using research and technology in his classes,” Williams said. “He’s really been studying this in his own research for some time, trying to be innovative and leveraging technology when appropriate.”

    This story has been updated since its initial publication.