<strong><em>For those who missed the summer’s news, here’s a brief overview of the past three months:</em></strong>
<strong>Alcohol petition submitted</strong>
The easing of alcohol restrictions in Richardson restaurants, including The Pub at UTD, moved one step closer to the ballot box with the May 28 submission of a petition to the City of Richardson.
The petition, submitted by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce – which included more than 10,800 signatures – requests an election to allow “on-premise consumption of alcohol for Richardson food and beverage permit holders (restaurants).”
Club memberships needed to buy alcohol in Richardson restaurants would be eliminated if the measure passes.The petition had enough valid signatures and Richardson residents will vote Sept. 11 on the issue.
Management of The Pub at UTD has been monitoring the progress of the petition, but remains non-committal as to whether to sell alcohol.
“We haven’t made a decision one way or another,” said Matt Freeman, manager of The Pub. “If the city goes wet, it will be a lot easier to maintain (a license to sell alcohol in The Pub). If they don’t, I don’t know if it’ll be possible.”
If the issue is passed, the future of alcohol being served in The Pub would depend on the voice of the students, Freeman added.
<strong>Film Group takes top honors</strong>
With only 24 hours to produce their entry, a group of UTD Arts and Technology students created an award-winning, five-minute film for the Video Race hosted by the Video Association of Dallas.
The winning team – calling themselves “Digital Simian” – was comprised of UTD graduate and undergraduate students Anthony Tyler, Deter Brown, Mate Hartai, Monica Evans, Christopher Evans, Kyle Kondas, Tim Christopher and Quan Nguyen.
The team won first prize in “Futurevision” as well as the Audience Choice award.
Conceived and completed from midnight to midnight May 7-8, the film included four previously unannounced elements stipulated by the Association – a line of dialogue, prop, theme and place.
The film – titled “Dumb Ass Larry” – chronicles the story of three young men who visit an alleged haunted house in search of money believed to have been left there by a previous owner. Kondas, playing the title role, tells his two friends that the money was reportedly left in the attic, which he calls “The Devil’s Playground” because of various atrocities speculated to have occurred there.
Throughout the suspenseful short, the UTD group successfully integrated required elements of place (a playground), a prop (a ladder), a theme (“easy money”) and a line of dialogue (“You can have it!”).UTD’s entry was judged best among 17 other entries in the college/university/recent grads category.
In all five categories combined, 85 teams competed, but only 70 completed an entry on time.In addition to the acclaim associated with winning the prestigious competition, the group took home a $175 cash prize and an opportunity to have the film aired on the Dallas public television station KERA in early June.
<strong>Buildings, degrees approved</strong>
UTD took a huge step in achieving top-tier status with the approval of three new buildings and degree plans by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) July 15.
The purchase of the buildings may raise UTD’s research funds to more than $50 million – halfway to the $100 million benchmark of Tier I schools.
The $85 million Natural Science and Engineering research building – a component of the $300 million “Emmitt” project announced last summer – is set to begin construction Nov. 1 and be completed by summer 2006.
THECB also approved the purchase of a building at 17917 Waterview Pkwy. – Waterview Science and Technology Center – for use during Founder’s renovation. The purchase of 2200 Mockingbird Lane to house UTD’s Center for Brain Health was approved by THECB June 29 and finalized July 1.
In addition to the new buildings, UTD will now offer doctoral degrees in cognition and neuroscience, communication sciences, psychology and public affairs and a master of science degree in psychology.
<strong>Budget cut requested</strong>
A 5 percent budget reduction may be on the docket for UTD in the next fiscal year, due to a request by the Texas legislature for all state agencies to cut back.
“Rather than having to scramble around and deal with the budget in crisis mode, we felt it would be better to have the agencies take a close look at their operations and their mandates and economize as much as possible in their budget requests,” Talmadge Heflin, Republican representative from Houston and House Appropriations Committee Chairman, told The Dallas Morning News.
Although not set in stone, the UTD administration will await word from UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof before making any preliminary preparations.
“It’s too early to speculate,” said Larry Terry, executive vice provost. “It’s 5 percent now, it could be something different down the road.”
But with an already tight budget limiting UTD’s growth, the first aspect to be cut will be additional faculty.The budget cut would not affect students, Terry assured, although the administration is unsure of the severity since it is still a request.
<strong>UTD Baseball players drafted</strong>
Two members of the 2004 UTD men’s baseball team made university history this summer by becoming the first Comets to sign professional contracts.
RHP Tony Adler, who was selected by the Houston Astros organization in the 46th round of this year’s amateur draft, reported to the Greenville Astros, Houston’s rookie level club. There he amassed a 1.59 ERA in 10 appearances, good enough to earn a promotion to A ball in Lexington.
In his 25.1 innings of work he allowed 9 earned runs.
Infielder Mike Biguenet signed as a free agent with the Arizona Diamondback organization after impressing scouts at a tryout camp. He reported to the A-level Lancaster (Calif.) ball club.
Although he spent much of his UTD career at third base, he has made most of his 12 appearances at second for the Jethawks.
Both Adler and Biguenet were selected to the American Baseball Coaches Association NCAA Division III All-West Region teams for their accomplishments last season.
<strong>UTD unveils new web presence</strong>
UTD unveiled a new look May 4 after receiving an “extreme makeover,” but it wasn’t the result of extensive nip-and-tuck plastic surgeries that are dominating reality-based transformation TV these days.
UTD’s new look took place in cyberspace, as the university’s web development team debuted a new Web site for the school. The new site – the first of several waves of changes – is largely a face-lift on the previous Web site and brings a new look but little intensive restructuring, said Cary Delmark, software systems specialist and head of the newly formed University Web Services department in the Provost’s Office.
Delmark said the goal is to build a Web site that matches the university’s credentials. In order to do so, Delmark and his team worked with Glenda Yan, an award-winning web designer who designed the Web site for the School of Arts & Humanities.
<strong>Alma Mater debuts</strong>
Students, faculty and administrators alike were singing the praises of UTD’s new alma mater after it was played for the first time at the May 8 commencement.
The playing of the new alma mater represented the culmination of more than a year-long collaboration among students, faculty and administrators alike to realize outgoing UTD President Franklyn Jenifer’s desire for the university to have its own school song. Robert X. Rodriguez, professor of aesthetic studies and renowned musical composer and conductor, penned the melody for UTD’s alma mater two years ago while he was in Rome, Italy.
Twenty people formed a committee to find lyrics. The committee sent the music to four professional songwriters who altogether submitted 16 sets of lyrics. Professional songwriters Bill Dunn and Neely Reynolds took top honors as the winning lyricists. Dunn and Reynolds received $10,000 for their lyrics. For the complete sheet music, visit www. utdmercury.com.