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Life & Letters College of Liberal Arts Magazine 路 Spring 2014




Archive staff at the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (AHPN) review some of the 80 million pages of documents found in Guatemala in July 2005. The collection represents the largest single repository of documents ever made available to human rights investigators. To date, more than 15 million documents have been digitized and can be accessed through The University of Texas at Austin at:

Archiving the Central American Revolutions The 2014 Lozano Long Conference in February focused on the “revolutionary decades” in Central America (1970 through 1990), bringing together scholars from the United States and Central America. Several speakers and panelists offered first-hand perspectives on revolutions in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador. One objective of the conference was the acquisition of documentary materials—personal papers, political broadsides, photos, clippings, music—related to a number of crises in Central America. It is the hope of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections that future contributors will recognize the richness of the collection and its potential to become the world’s foremost repository for materials related to Central America in the late 20th century.

Pablo Ceto, vice provost of Universidad Ixil, Guatemala, speaks during the Feb. 19 keynote panel titled Historicizing the Central American Revolutions.

Examples of posters featured in the conference’s exhibition: ¡Venceremos!: Posters and Ephemera of the Central American Revolutions.

Life & Letters

Contents Spring 2014 Departments 2

Dean’s Message


Knowledge Matters

A look at the college’s top news, research and achievements.


Plan A Midsummer’s Dream Trip to Winedale An insider’s guide to Shakespeare in East Texas.

Cover Story

18 Millennial Nation

A generation faces the challenges and opportunities of education, money and finding meaning at work.

Ancient City on the Brink

Previous page; Archiving photo: Courtesy of Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, Guatemala Ceto photo: Mari Correa

After waiting decades for access, a classical archeologist’s work in Crimea leads to a U.N. World Heritage designation. He now awaits the outcome of the region’s latest upheaval.

Making the Grade


Strategies for improving education in America.

Teaching Hard Lessons in a New World

New Charlie Wilson Chair strengthens university’s expertise on Pakistan.


Liberal Arts Events

A look at some of the notable happenings across the college.





King’s Treasure

UT professor saves a century of African-American mental health records from destruction.


Tales for Troubled Times

English professor reminds us what it truly means to “translate,” as he interprets an early Renaissance masterpiece for 21st century readers.





Meet liberal arts alumni: KeyCorp Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney (History ’77), DOORS President and CEO Christina Melton Crain (Government ’88) and best-selling children’s author Chris Barton (History ’93).


Writing Home

Chicano literature professor wins the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award. ON THE COVER: Millennial Nation: TOP ROW: Adrian Audain (anthro sr),

Macarena Jaraiz (American studies & IRG soph), Manjari Subramanian (psych jr); BOTTOM ROW: Michael Villanueva (IRG soph), Angelica Cruz (history soph) and James Barrington (gov & Air Force ROTC sr).


Op-ed: Liberal Arts Matter in a STEM World

Psychologist Art Markman tells us why the liberal arts can make all the difference in a company’s success or failure.

Photos by Marsha Miller. TABLE OF CONTENTS STUDENTS: Marissa Medina (Spanish jr), Stephen Agwu

(American studies & French sr), and Rachel Abbott (English & LAH soph).

Photos by Marsha Miller.


Walk Like a Texan

A closer look at a rare artifact from our Texas Archeological Research Laboratory collection.

BACK COVER: Texas flag at Explore UT, March 1, 2014. Photo by Marsha Miller.


Dean’s Message

Life & Letters The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin publishes Life & Letters for its community of scholars, alumni and friends. College of Liberal Arts Dean Randy L. Diehl

The boycott of Israeli academic institutions by leaders of several associations of higher education in the U.S. has raised some important questions about academic freedom at our colleges and universities. Boycott supporters cite Israeli repression of the academic freedom of Palestinian scholars and students as the reason for their action, but fail to consider that such an action violates the very freedom they claim to defend. Last December, UT Austin President Bill Powers, who is chair of the Association of American Universities, led other prominent AAU leaders in a joint statement opposing the boycott. I also released a statement that reiterated our college’s strong opposition to academic boycotts as infringements on both academic freedom and our university’s nondiscrimination policy, which prohibits unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, citizenship and veteran status. The consequences of academic boycotts, however, are more than infringements of rules and standards. They strike at the very heart of the liberal arts mission to transform lives and help students become broadly educated citizens committed to the freedom of inquiry, the search for truth and the advancement of knowledge. These commitments are fundamental to the health of universities and democracies alike, including Israeli universities and institutions. A major flaw of the boycott is that it treats Israeli academic institutions as a homogenous bloc, when in fact their faculty and students represent diverse cultures, religions, nationalities and viewpoints. Indeed, many Israeli academics are working to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Why would we leave them out of the conversation? There is a level of hypocrisy


in a movement that singles out the state of Israel while ignoring the repression of academics in many other countries. It has been suggested that the university or our college should take action against faculty who favor the boycott or withdraw our support from conferences and other activities sponsored by boycotting organizations. Such a “boycott of the boycotters” would simply feed into the downward spiral where all such actions eventually lead: to a society where sides are chosen and common ground abandoned. History shows us time and again its bitter consequences. Our college will not dissociate from organizations with which we disagree, nor will we keep faculty members from affiliating with them. We will do everything in our power to maintain a civil discourse that includes all voices. However, we will not support or participate in any event that excludes scholars because of their nationality or other factors. On considering the essence of academic freedom, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once observed: “The most important aspect of freedom of speech is freedom to learn. All education is a continuous dialogue – questions and answers that pursue every problem to the horizon.” There is much at stake here for the future of our universities and our democracy, so I strongly encourage our alumni and friends to stay informed on this issue and help us lead a respectful exchange of ideas that includes all voices.

Randy L. Diehl, Dean David Bruton, Jr. Regents Chair in Liberal Arts

Editor Michelle Bryant Art Direction and Design Allen F. Quigley Contributing Writers Alicia Dietrich Art Markman Emily Nielsen Jessica Sinn Clayton Stromberger Macey Shay Contributing Photographers Sarah Lim Marsha Miller Contributing Illustrators Brad Amorosino Janis Fowler Yevgenia Nayberg Graphic Design Intern Dennis Haynes Visit us online at Or email us at Postmaster Send changes of address to: Life & Letters College of Liberal Arts 116 Inner Campus Dr., Stop G6000 Austin, TX 78712-1257 Follow us Printed by Horizon Printing

Photo: Marsha Miller

Freedom to Learn

Director of Public Affairs David A. Ochsner

Life & Letters Spring 2014

Knowledge Matters

Plan A Midsummer’s Dream Trip to Winedale English

Photos courtesy of Shakespeare at Windale program


TOP: Shakespeare at Winedale summer class students performing Comedy of Errors, 2013. LEFT: The Barn. RIGHT: Doc Ayers, 1971.

We all have those special Texas summer places that draw us back—the dance pavilion at Garner State Park, the swimming hole at Krause Springs, a particular stretch of Padre Island. Ever since English professor James “Doc” Ayres founded the Shakespeare at Winedale program in 1971, the Theatre Barn at Winedale has been one of those special places for countless folks around the state who have embraced the annual trek to Fayette County as a beloved rite of summer, heat and all. They come to partake in all the varied delights this historic area on the cusp of East Texas has to offer—listening to a heartfelt performance of Shakespeare in an open-sided hay barn, picnicking and sipping wine under pecan trees, taking a hike down a dirt road with the kids, tossing a frisbee in an open meadow, watching a gentle breeze play with the branches of a tall loblolly pine. Often, their final Winedale moment of the evening, after the play is done and the students have begun packing up props and costumes, is a last lingering glance up at the dazzling expanse of the Milky Way spread across the night sky. There is a theme that runs through many of Shakespeare’s comedies and romances of a journey from the city or court to what critic Northrop Frye called “the green world”—a place of imaginative freedom where time slows, hearts open and mysterious transformations are possible. Winedale has been such a place for generations of students, and visitors share in that experience of discovery as well. Driving back home after some time spent out there, you just might—like weaver Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who is “translated” for a brief time in the woods outside Athens thanks to



Knowledge Matters the square in Round Top is a good spot for provisions and sandwiches on the way in if you don’t have time to pack up at home. Next, ‘day in the park’ supplies: a sun hat, sunscreen, cool clothing, a big picnic spread, folding chairs and a frisbee for the kids. If you want to bring home some Winedale T-shirts, tote bags or caps, bring cash or the checkbook. Finally, don’t forget your college Collected Works for brushing up on your Shakespeare before the plays.

Area attractions

Royers Café Bob Pastorio’s cherry pie.

When to go At, you can download the summer schedule, purchase tickets, get driving directions and learn more about this unique Department of English program. This summer the students—led by James Loehlin, who took the reins in 2001 when Doc Ayres stepped down after 30 years—are performing Taming of the Shrew, Merry Wives of Windsor and the rarely-seen Troilus and Cressida from July 17 to Aug. 10. Performances are Thursday – Sunday nights at 7:30, with 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Plan to buy tickets in advance and arrive at least a half-hour early—even earlier if you want to soak in the ambiance and pick a shady picnic table. (Note: If you are buying tickets at the door, bring cash or a check.) The famous Winedale Hunter’s Stew and vegetarian Gatherer’s Stew is available (for a $10 donation) between the Saturday plays on the first three weekends; a special reception is held the final Saturday evening. To see all three plays and make a fun weekend of it, find a bed and breakfast in the area—a good resource is the Chamber of Commerce of nearby Round Top (

Round Top, five miles from Winedale, is famous for its antique shops, pies at Royers Café, the historic Bethlehem Lutheran Church and its nearby cemetery, the garden, grounds and concerts at pianist James Dick’s Round Top Festival Institute and shops at Henkel Square, for starters – learn more at The Winedale Historical Complex grounds, now administered by UT’s Briscoe Center for American History, are rich in Texas history; the property was restored and given to the university by legendary philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg in 1967, and tours of the Stagecoach Inn and other historic buildings are available by advance appointment – call Winedale administrator Barbara White at (979) 278-3530 to arrange. Fayetteville, 20 miles away, has a lively town square and restaurants (

A young player performing during Camp Shakespeare at the Winedale Theatre Barn.

Camp Shakespeare performances In 2002, Shakespeare at Winedale founder “Doc” Ayres started Camp Shakespeare, a two week residential program for children ages 11-16. The final performances are remarkable for their passion, clarity and intelligence. This summer, the campers are performing Two Gentlemen of Verona on June 20, at 7 p.m. at Henkel Hall in Round Top and June 21, at 1 p.m. in the Barn. Twelfth Night will be performed on July 11, at 7 p.m. at Henkel Hall, and July 12 at 1 p.m. in the Barn. It’s well worth an early trip to see the ‘next generation’ in action. For information or reservations, email Doc Ayres at

What to bring First essential: an ice chest packed with water, cold drinks and snacks (no concessions at performances). Round Top Mercantile on Texas 237 just north of


Round Top, located just minutes away from Winedale, is famous for its antique shops.

Royers Café pie photo: Michelle Bryant Camp Shakespeare photo: Caroline Poe, Round Top photo: Sarah Lim

the gift of an ass’s head from Puck—find yourself ruminating on the “most rare vision” of what you have seen and heard, and feeling just a bit transformed yourself. It’s not too early to begin planning now for a midsummer visit to Winedale— so here are some tips to help you get the most out of your journey.

Life & Letters Spring 2014

Plan II, Philosophy Alumnus nominated for Academy Award

$4.3m NSF Grant Supports Amazon Biodiversity Study Geography and the Environment

Plan II Honors & Philosophy

Heinzerling photo: Erik Jonsson Frog photo: iStock

TOP: Zachary Heinzerling films Ushio Shinohara for the film Cutie and the Boxer.

Zachary Heinzerling, Plan II and Philosophy ’06, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary for his film Cutie and the Boxer. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, where he earned the Best Director Award (U.S. Documentary). The film follows the complicated relationship of husband and wife artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. Heinzerling approaches the story as a narrative film, exploring the couple’s career disappointments, gender roles, marriage and aging. “One of the biggest challenges in this film was to shed light on the love they undoubtedly have for one another, even if they rarely express it directly,” writes Heinzerling. “I hope that audiences will recognize themselves in Ushio and Noriko’s story, and consider their own relationships after watching.” Ushio, who is 81, first came onto the art scene in post-war Tokyo for his action painting—known for boxing his art onto canvas—and later moved to New York. Noriko, 59, comes into her own as an artist as the film unfolds. Through her “Cutie” series—comicstyle paintings and drawings depicting her difficult past with her husband—a deeper truth and sadness is revealed. Most recently, Heinzerling was enlisted to direct Beyoncé’s Self-Titled, a five-part mini-art feature that was published in January 2014, shortly after the global superstar stunned the world by dropping her fifth studio album exclusively on iTunes.

A $4.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will help a UT Austin professor investigate how geology, biology and climate interact in shaping species distribution and biodiversity in Amazon/Andean forests. Edgardo Latrubesse, a professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment, will partner on the grant with a team of scientists from North and South America, including Brian Horton, a professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences. The project will offer educational opportunities, training and mentoring to graduate students who will assist with fieldwork, laboratory studies and modeling. The research team hopes to better understand the role of environment and environmental history in genetic differentiation of populations and the origins of new species.

Want to read the latest news from the College of Liberal Arts? Visit:


Knowledge Matters

Why Mom Called You ‘Fluffy’ BY JESSICA SINN

When choosing baby names, parents often want something that is pleasing to the ear. Some even turn to alliteration when naming multiple children. But according to a new psychology study from The University of Texas at Austin, parents set themselves up for speech errors when they give their children similar-sounding names. The findings, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, show that what many people consider to be “Freudian slips,” may be a quirk in the brain’s information-retrieval process. The study was authored by Zenzi Griffin, professor of psychology at UT Austin, and Thomas Wangerman, formerly of Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. “Because name substitutions are increased by factors like name similarity and physical similarity, they should not be seen as purely Freudian or reflecting preferences for one child over another,” Griffin says. “In other words, people shouldn’t read too much into the errors.” The researchers conducted online surveys with 334 respondents who had one or more siblings. As part of the study, the subjects were asked to rate similarities


in appearance and personality with their siblings, as well as the frequency of their parents accidentally transposing their names. According to the results, participants whose names shared initial (Jamie/Jason) or final (Amanda/Samantha) sounds with a sibling reported that their parents accidentally called them by the wrong name more often than those without such name overlap. This was especially prevalent among younger siblings who were close in age and of the same gender as their siblings. The majority of respondents who reported low rates of name substitutions were first-born siblings, which may be due to their names being used more often, the researchers note. A subset (121 respondents) reported they were often called by names of other family members. And 20 respondents stated they were called by the name of the family pet. Griffin says this unexpected finding shows how social and situational factors play a role in how parents retrieve names when addressing their children directly. For example, a mother stands in the kitchen and wants her child to come

to dinner. The last time she stood in the kitchen and summoned someone to dinner, it was Fluffy the dog. The similarity of the situation and repetition of the words, “come to dinner, Fluffy,” primes her to say the dog’s name again when calling out to the child. “It is tempting to attribute such mistakes to the animals’ status as family members and child-substitutes,” Griffin says. “However, it seems unlikely that parents would make such errors so readily if they were labeling family members in photographs.” Research on speech errors has shown that people commonly substitute words that belong to the same category, but sound nothing alike, such as labeling a couch as a sofa, or a lion as a tiger, Griffin says. And when a word overlaps in meaning and sound (pear/peach), the intended word is more likely to be unintentionally substituted for its similar-sounding counterpart. “Although much work has considered how names affect self-identity, social categorization and social interactions, little is known about the consequences of personal name choice on speaking,” Griffin says. “This study begins to fill the gap.”

Illustration: Yevgenia Nayberg


Life & Letters Spring 2014

Knowledge Matters

Plan II Graduate Awarded 2014 British Marshall Scholarship

Photo courtesy of John Russell Beaumont Bevo illustration: Allen F. Quigley

Plan II Honors John Russell Beaumont, a Plan II and architecture graduate, has been awarded a Marshall Scholarship, one of the most coveted study abroad scholarships available. Beaumont's scholarship, one of 34 awarded this year, will fund his graduate education and help him pursue his chosen path as an architect or planner specializing in disaster relief. He will be studying at the University of Manchester, as well as the Bartlett School of Architecture at the University College in London. “This scholarship is an incredible opportunity,” Beaumont says. “I look forward to representing the USA in the UK and taking full advantage of my studies and the Marshall Scholar community to contribute to emergency housing and disaster relief practices.” Beaumont’s passion for relief efforts was made clear in his 104 page senior thesis, Relief and Recovery: The Role of Architecture and Solidarity in the 2010 Chilean Earthquake Reconstruction, which the Plan II Honors Program cited as a “model thesis.” “Russell has the knowledge, the moral force of character and the courage to address one of our major problems,” says Larry Carver, director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. “He has the ability to determine how to provide housing that is affordable and functional, attractive and ‘green,’ for those who suffer from natural or man-made disasters.” The liberal arts side of Beaumont’s education provided an important counterbalance to the more technical side of his architecture curriculum. His Plan II degree allowed him to explore more abstract subjects, such as philosophy, social sciences and history. Beaumont also valued his small class sizes, motivated peers and passionate professors. Beaumont emphasizes the importance of helping others and worked with Engineers without Borders and Habitat for Humanity, mentored freshmen in the School of Architecture, tutored math in high schools throughout Austin and worked with Overland Architects to help

ussell has the knowledge, the moral force of character and the courage to address one of our major problems.” Larry Carver, director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program

the homeless, all while he was a student. This isn’t the first prestigious award Beaumont has received—the Albuquerque, N.M. native was awarded a Dedman Distinguished Scholarship as a freshman. He also received the Oglesby Traveling Scholarship upon graduation last spring, which allowed him to travel to South America to research emergency housing and post-disaster recovery. These experiences left Beaumont eager to continue traveling internationally. “The UK, and London in particular, is a global center for both architecture and international development,” Beaumont says. “I look forward to being immersed in that environment and learning everything I can from the amazing work that will be going on around me.”

Can You Leave High School Behind? Economics The quality of a student’s high school is a key predictor of grades earned in college, according to a new study from The University of Texas at Austin. The study examines the relationship between high school quality and student success at college and takes advantage of the unique policy environment provided by Texas’s Top Ten Percent automatic admissions law. In addition to increasing the diversity of high schools in the state that send students to the university, the law also provides an admission criteria based on a sole observable characteristic: high school class rank. The takeaway: Providing college opportunity may extend beyond simply identifying the best students at disadvantaged high schools. More efforts are needed to help those students—even those with top grades—succeed in college. The report was authored by Sandra E. Black, professor of economics; Jane Arnold Lincove, LBJ School of Public Affairs assistant professor; and graduate students Jenna Cullinane and Rachel Veron. It was published in January 2014 by the National Bureau of Economic Research.


Knowledge Matters

Teaching Hard Lessons in a New World Government

BY ALICIA DIETRICH Professor Paula Newberg wants her students to leave her class with this big idea: “Life is complicated, but they can learn to live it well.” Newberg, who holds the Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies in the Government Department, does indeed teach a complicated subject about a complicated region. She joined the UT faculty in 2013 after spending more than 20 years based in Washington, D.C., and overseas, working both in academia and with non-governmental agencies and states on human rights issues. She was serving as director of Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy when UT recruited her for the position. “Professor Newberg brings to the university a unique combination of scholarly expertise and years of hands-on experience as a policy analyst and adviser on the region,” says Robert G. Moser, professor and chair of UT’s Government Department. “She is the author of numerous books, monographs, articles and opinion pieces on Pakistan, Afghanistan


and South Asia. “Among her many assignments as a policy specialist, Paula has been an advisor to the United Nations, a Peace Corps country director and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,” he adds. “This wealth of experience will enable her to bring together expertise and insights from both the academic and policy worlds.” The Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies—the first privately funded position of its kind in the United States— was established in 2010 after the College of Liberal Arts responded to a $500,000 challenge grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation of Lufkin. Newberg’s research focuses on rule

here’s a way that you learn places when you learn them at their worst, which is essentially what human rights people do.” Paula Newberg, Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistan Studies

of law, jurisprudence and governance in the region, along with how countries like Pakistan are dealing with the challenges of climate change, new technology and free expression and difficult governance environments. “As with the rest of the developing world, Pakistan is now part of global politics in ways that it never imagined it would be 60 years ago, when it became independent,” Newberg says. Newberg never planned to work in Asia. She first studied central and eastern Europe, but her advocacy work in human rights eventually led her to the region. She first visited Pakistan in 1980 after attending U.N. meetings in Geneva and New Dehli. “There’s a way that you learn places when you learn them at their worst, which is essentially what human rights people do,” Newberg says. “You develop an association with the place, with its people and its evolution, and Pakistan under (then) military rule led me to ask broader questions—and I’m still doing so more than 30 years later.” As she worked in south and central Asia, her academic interests and advocacy work merged and led to books, articles and policy engagement. Newberg lived in Pakistan and worked for the United Nations in Afghanistan for the first twoand-a-half years of Taliban rule in the 1990s, and she returned to Afghanistan to work during the first three years of the new post-2001 government. Newberg says she wants her students to leave her classes realizing they can learn about a new and difficult place and come away after a semester with the tools to understand something quite foreign. More importantly, she wants them to go on and ask more questions to continue to learn new things on their own. “In the end, none of us are going to live lives circumscribed by the borders of the United States,” Newberg says. “It’s just not a possibility anymore. So, we might as well learn the places that are hardest, and that will help us understand our collective concerns and responsibilities.”

Photo: Sasha Haagensen

Charlie Wilson Chair Paula Newberg is Pakistan Studies Expert

Life & Letters Spring 2014

Temperamental & Uninhibited

Relaxed & Creative

States of Mind Illustration: Allen F. Quigley

Psychology People with similar personality types are likely to cluster in certain geographical regions of the United States, making it possible to divide a map into three distinct personality regions, according to a new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study, co-authored by University of Texas at Austin psychologist Samuel Gosling and University of Cambridge psychologist Peter J. Rentfrow, shows

Friendly & Conventional

that people in the north-central Great Plains and the South tend to be conventional and friendly. Those in the Western and Eastern seaboards lean toward being mostly relaxed and creative. And New Englanders and Mid-Atlantic residents are prone to being more temperamental and uninhibited. Using a variety of online surveys, the researchers analyzed the personality traits of 1.5 million people. TO FIND OUT WHICH STATE MATCHES YOUR PERSONALITY, TAKE THE TEST AT:


Knowledge Matters

Liberal Arts Events

Photos: Mari Correa

LEFT: Benedicta Alejo, a chef who specializes in Mexican cooking, prepares corundas, a traditional corn-based food of Michoacán. Foodways of Mexico – The Michoacán Dinner: Behind the Scenes was held Sept. 17 and brought together a group of chefs to engage in conversations about food from Michoacán and cooking for the Authentic Mexico Gourmet Gala. BELOW: Benedicta’s specialty, a 7-point corunda. The typical corunda has only three points.

Photo: Sonsereé Verdise Gibson

Foodways of Mexico

There is no better preparation to today’s world than the liberal arts. Success is easier if you understand the origins of yourself and your community.” Devin Geoghegan



Photo: Flash Photography

Commencement Commencement speaker and liberal arts alumnus Devin Geoghegan speaks to the College of Liberal Arts fall 2013 graduates on Dec. 7 at the Frank Erwin Center. Geoghegan graduated in 2000 with a B.A. in history, English and Liberal Arts Honors. After graduating from UT, he worked at Lehman Brothers in New York as an analyst before starting his first hedge fund. Today, Geoghegan manages his own $440 million energy hedge fund—Nexus Asset Management—with two other partners.

Audience members at Texas Banned Books: Questions and Answers (TXBBQ&A) on Sept. 26 participate in an activity gauging their experiences with censorship. The event was an interactive roundtable discussion about the real, relevant state of censorship in Texas and was held in the Perry-Castañeda Library during Banned Books Week. The conversation centered on Texas schools and values, books in prison, freedom of the press and the right to read.

Life & Letters Spring 2014


Photo: Travis Willmann

Humanities Research Award Symposium Julia Mickenberg, associate professor of American studies, presents her research, The New Woman Tries on Red: Russia in the American Feminist Imagination, 1905-1945, featuring this American Girls in Red Russia clipping from EveryWeek Magazine. The 2014 Humanities Research Award Symposium was held Feb. 28 to celebrate the humanities with presentations from 2010 Humanities Research Award recipients. The $15,000 award was established in 2009 by Dean Randy Diehl in response to a shortage of grants for humanities research.

Image courtesy of Milly Bennett Papers, Hoover Institution Archives Mickenberg photo: Emily Nielsen

Agatha Oliverira and Natasha Mevs-Korff participate in beauty, a public endurance piece performed Nov. 13 on the West Mall. The piece explored women’s relationships to each other and to their hair. Originally performed in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of artist Wura-Natasha Ogunji’s Guggenheim Fellowship, this iteration of beauty included students as well as artists from the greater Austin community and explored themes of gender, race and sexuality.

Photo: Matt Valentine ©

Ann Patchett On Jan. 23, bestselling novelist Ann Patchett spoke in the Joynes Reading Room for a Plan II Honors event. Patchett, one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” is the author of six novels and three nonfiction books. She has received many awards and fellowships for her writing, including England’s Orange Prize, a PEN/Faulkner award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work has been translated into more than 30 languages.


Knowledge Matters

Pillow Wins Presidential Early Career Award Psychology Jonathan Pillow was one of three faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin selected to receive the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. Pillow develops mathematical models to study how neurons in the brain work together to process information. “The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Barack Obama said about the recipients. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.” An assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Neuroscience and Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation in the College of Natural Sciences, Pillow is among 102 recipients who will receive awards at a Washington, D.C., ceremony later this year.

No More Keeping Up with the Joneses It has long been assumed that many low- and middle-income Americans over-borrow so they can keep up with wealthier Americans—or “keeping up with the Joneses.” This condition is often blamed for the large rise in household debt that occurred during the 2000s, but a UT Austin economist’s research tells a different story. The study examines household debt, income and economic inequality on a geographic basis through several large databases that cover home mortgages, auto loans, student loans


and credit card debt. According to the report, from 2001 to 2008, the debt of low-income borrowers in areas with less economic inequality rose about 15 percent compared to those in areas with higher inequality. Higher inequality areas include the South, California and the Pacific Northwest, while lower inequality was found in the Midwest. The results support the notion that the growth in household borrowing during the mid-2000s was driven in large part by credit

supply expansions targeted toward lower-income households, and not motivated by “keeping up.” The report was authored by economists Olivier Coibion of The University of Texas at Austin, Marianna Kudlyak of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and Yuriy Gorodnichenko and John Mondragon of the University of California at Berkeley. It was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Photo: Sarah Lim Illustration: Allen F. Quigley


Life & Letters Spring 2014

King’s Treasure

Digital Archive Holds Untold History of African American Mental Health African and African American Studies

Photo courtesy of King Davis

May Day festival, circa mid-1950s; patients listen to a musical performance.


Resplendent in his trademark sport coat and bow tie, Louis Armstrong plays a trumpet for a large gathering of patients underneath a grove of trees outside of Central State Hospital, the world’s first African American psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, Va. This is one of the many priceless images stored away in the hospital’s filing cabinets that were on the brink of destruction. Due to changes in Virginia’s record retention laws, any hospital document more than 10 years old had to be destroyed—100 years of historic materials lost forever. When King Davis, professor of African and African American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, found out about the impending demolition, he immediately flew to Virginia to negotiate a means to salvage the treasure trove of African American mental health history. Davis, who is a former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, was granted a certain amount of time to copy and digitize the archives. Established in 1868, Central State Hospital— formerly Central State Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane—was created in response to the newly freed slaves after the Civil War. The mounds of forgotten materials offer a rare glimpse into what life was like for African Americans following the Civil War to the post-civil rights era. “There are so many stories housed in these archives,” says Davis, as he points to a scanned image of a yellowed handwritten document on his computer

screen. “You can see in some of these admission documents that many patients were sent to the psychiatric hospital for not stepping off a sidewalk to let a white man pass by, or for getting into an argument with their boss. It’s hard to believe that these irreplaceable historic records were about to be permanently erased.” Three years after the appeal, Davis and an interdisciplinary team of researchers embarked on a digital archive project to convert the massive pile of materials into a digital time capsule. Last summer, researchers at the UT Austin School of Information guided the digitization and restoration of 800,000 pieces of deteriorating records that were left exposed to the elements. Now digitally restored and ready to be seen, the archive—which includes thousands of photos, letters, handwritten journals and patient record books—are stored precariously on hard drives. Without funding, Davis cannot embark on the last—and most challenging—leg of the project: Creating an online digital library while protecting the private information of the patients. “Every day I fear that I’m going to open up a record on a hard drive and find nothing,” says Davis, who directs the university’s Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis. “And that’s why we need funding, so we can meld all of the records into one server with categories and searchable tools. Otherwise, we could potentially lose nearly one million records. What a waste that would be.”


To help with this process, Unmil Karadkar, an assistant professor in the School of Information, is developing new technology that crowdsources the digitized handwritten text while protecting private information—such as names, addresses and social security numbers—from the human transcribers. The new Steganoscription software detects keywords within the lines in handwritten documents that are recognized as private information, allowing transcribers to quickly and effectively convert thousands of handwritten documents into a searchable database. Karadkar anticipates the software will be functional by spring 2014. In addition to streamlining the digital archive project, the new technology will be a valuable tool for other archival projects, as well as current medical transcription work. “This new software could potentially impact a variety of communities—from scholars and researchers to medical transcriptionists,” Karadkar says. “Right now there are not enough privacy protection settings in place for human medical record keeping, so this would significantly improve medical transcriptions.” Yet once the archivists leap over the privacy hurdle, they must face another challenge: Making the database easily searchable for the public, particularly those who are seeking information about their ancestral roots. Pat Galloway, a medical anthropologist who specializes in archival research at the School of Information, and her doctoral student, Lorraine Dong, are working on creating an organized, user-friendly database that can be easily searched with keywords.

Many patients were sent to the psychiatric hospital for not stepping off a sidewalk to let a white man pass by, or for getting into an argument with their boss.” King Davis, professor of African and African American Studies


Galloway says the archive could potentially lay the groundwork for future archival projects. “Certainly other digital repository projects will benefit from this work, especially from the project’s careful consideration of the preservation of the paper materials being digitized for the project, the development of means for indexing them and the serious study of the ethical issues around the preservation and potential historical use of these records,” says Galloway, who is a professor of archival enterprise and digital asset management. The Central State Hospital was the world’s first African American psychiatric ward, which was integrated in 1968. The digital library will be a genealogy gem for people in need of answers about their mental health history. In fact, Blair Underwood, an actor well known for his reality show Who Do You Think You Are?, hit pay dirt when he sought out his family lineage at Central State Hospital, Davis notes. Not only will people learn more about their family tree, they will also discover their risks for developing mental illness, Davis says. He anticipates the digital library will be completed by fall 2014. “There aren’t as many studies about the mental health of African Americans as you would imagine— and there are very few of those studies that are unbiased,” Davis says. “Research has shown that a person with a serious mental illness diagnosis dies about 25 years earlier than the rest of the population. We also know that African Americans have had the highest mortality rates from all causes since the 1900s.” Once the digital library is available online, Davis says the information could potentially lead to new discoveries about the state of mental illness in African Americans, an area of research that has been vastly understudied, he notes. “Current studies do not include mortality data on African Americans with serious mental illness,” Davis says. “Research based on the archival data will yield information that can be useful to change the outcomes of future stories that had their origins in the 19th century.”

TOP: Official staff of the Central State Hospital in Petersburg, Va., 1899; center of first row is superintendent, William Francis Drewry. LEFT: Patients from the Central State Hospital on a campus outing.

Photos courtesy of King Davis

Knowledge Matters


Life & Letters Spring 2014

Tales for Troubled Times English

Wayne Rebhorn’s Translation Brings Boccaccio’s Decameron to Life

Rebhorn photo: Larry D. Moore

BY DAVID OCHSNER On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Professor Wayne Rebhorn was preparing to teach Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron when news came of the terrorist attacks in New York City. He wondered if he should go ahead with the class, or cancel in light of the tragedy. “Then I thought, ‘the stories in the Decameron are told by a group of young people coping with ultimate tragedy and death,’” Rebhorn says of this classic work, written in the midst of the Black Death that swept 14th century Europe. “They cope with tragedy by going into the country and telling stories. It is life affirming.” Boccaccio set his stories in an idyllic Tuscan landscape, where seven women and three men have fled from the horrors of plague-invested Florence. They agree to a plan to tell each other stories—100 in all—over a two-week period (taking the weekends off), with love the prevailing theme. “Some of the stories are astoundingly funny,” says Rebhorn, a professor in the Department of English whose recent translation of the Decameron has received prominent and widespread critical acclaim. “But the stories also underscore the importance of using language well to enrich our lives. Horace said literature should be both sweet and useful—we want a good story, but we also want to learn about ourselves.” And there is much we can learn about ourselves today from a man born 700 years ago in a time and place far removed from our own. However, since few of us are fluent in 14th century Italian, or well-versed in the customs and politics of that time, we need someone like Rebhorn to make these stories live for us again. In his introduction to the Decameron, Rebhorn reminds us that the root meaning of “translate” is to take something across a border or a boundary, to bring




Joan Acocella’s lengthy review in the New Yorker (Nov. 11, 2013) refers to Rebhorn’s translation as “a thoughtful piece of work, with populist intentions…with a concern for the common reader, he has tried to make the slang sound natural, and he succeeds.” Historian and writer Steve Donoghue, writing in The Quarterly Conversation (Dec. 2, 2013) proclaims “Rebhorn is the first Boccaccio translator in 300 years to understand so clearly that the main thing being celebrated amidst all these fevered couplings is “intelligence in all its forms.” By writing his great work in the local Tuscan dialect, Boccaccio was doing for prose fiction what his mentor Petrarch was doing for lyric poetry and Dante for epic poetry in the Italian language. For this reason they are collectively called le Tre Corone, the “three crowns” of Italian literature. As feudal states gave way to nation-states and the rise of cities, the Decameron signaled the waning of the Middle Ages and the rise of Renaissance humanism. Boccaccio’s stories, especially in the Rebhorn translation, are very human indeed. “Boccaccio demonstrates the power of storytelling and how it can inform our lives. You can take care of yourself in life and be successful if you know how to tell a good story,” Rebhorn says. “But it also reminds us of the joys of simply being alive. If it’s nothing else, the Decameron is just plain fun to read.”

The Banquet in the Pine Forest (1482/3) is the third painting in Sandro Botticelli’s series The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti, which illustrates events from the Eighth Story of the Fifth Day.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

that which is foreign or strange from one language and age into another. It is a daunting task he describes in terms of “puzzles;” the translator must discern the meanings of individual words and phrases as well as the syntax, that is, the particular arrangement of a sentence. The Decameron presents a unique challenge because the very complexity and order of the sentences is critical to Boccaccio’s message. “That’s the challenge to a translator: How to respect Boccaccio’s complication in language without making it clumsy,” Rebhorn says. “It is a linguistic puzzle to translate both complexity and wordplay, to get it both literally and figuratively correct. You have to respect the aural rhythms in the language. It is difficult work, but I also find great pleasure in this linguistic challenge.” For example, the book’s narrators, who come from polite society, speak in formal, complex sentences, as do the characters in their stories of courtly love, while simpler, colloquial language is used in the stories of peasants and craftsmen. This diversity of styles in the stories is important; their colorful celebration of life in all its richness, texture and contrast is precisely the balm our narrators need in an ashen world of disease and death. This is a quality that sets Rebhorn’s translation apart from others and draws praise from reviewers.

Life & Letters Spring 2014

Books Many Rivers to Cross Texas Christian University Press, Sept. 2013 By Tom Zigal, English BA ’70

The WWI Diary of José de la Luz Sáenz Texas A&M University Press, March 2014 Edited and Introduction by Emilio Zamora, professor, Department of History and Center for Mexican American Studies. Translated by Emilio Zamora with Ben Maya

A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America

Colonial Mediascapes:

Basic Books, Dec. 2013 By Jacqueline Jones, professor, Department of History

University of Nebraska Press, April 2014 Edited by Matt Cohen, associate professor, Department of English; and Jeffrey Glover (Loyola University of Chicago)

Slavery and Freedom in Savannah

Memoria Romana:

Sensory Worlds of the Early Americas

Memory in Rome and Rome in Memory

University of Georgia Press, Feb. 2014 Edited by Daina Ramey Berry, associate professor, Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies; and Leslie M. Harris (Emory University)

American Academy in Rome/University of Michigan Press, April 2014 Edited by Karl Galinsky, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of Classics

Charlie Chaplin, Director


Northwestern University Press, March 2014 By Donna Kornhaber, assistant professor, Department of English

Penguin Books, May 2014 Translated by Snehal Shingavi, assistant professor, Department of English

Global Shell Games: Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime, and Terrorism

Schooling in Modernity:

Cambridge University Press, March 2014 By Mike Findley, assistant professor, Department of Government and LBJ School of Public Affairs; Daniel Nielson (Brigham Young) and Jason Sharman (Griffith University, Australia)

University of Toronto Press, July 2014 By Paola Bonifazio, assistant professor, Department of French and Italian

The Politics of Sponsored Films in Postwar Italy

READ MORE ABOUT BOOKS AT: ShelfLife@Texas, UT Austin’s book blog


Millennial Nation A Generational Look at Education, Money and Work BY EMILY NIELSEN


Empathetic. Impatient. Innovative. Unfocused. Rational. Naive. Excited.


hese are the words millennials in the College of Liberal Arts use when they’re asked to describe themselves. However, it’s a question they’re not often asked. Plenty of people, from journalists to researchers to employers, are looking to define who millennials are as a generation, but letting individuals within the group define it themselves seems to be a less popular idea. The most standard definition of a millennial is someone who was born after 1980 and grew up during the new millennium. Their perspectives have been shaped in times of incredible economic upheaval, cultural change and increasing globalization. And of course, rapid technological advancement.

As anthropology and radio-television-film (RTF) junior Coleman Tharpe puts it, “Contrary to popular belief, we were not ‘born digital.’ Millennials were the first generation of digital migrants, and we colonized the digital world.” Education is a forefront issue to millennials, many of whom have recently earned a degree, are attending college now or will soon be preparing to enter a university. Most of their major decisions revolve around how their education is going to affect the rest of their lives. Earning a college degree is seen as more essential than ever before, and millennials are the most educated generation to date. In 2012, one-third of the nation’s 25-to-29 year olds had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, and another record-breaking 90 percent of the same group held high school diplomas, according to Pew Research Center. “Growing up, I truly did not believe there was any other option outside of going to college,” says Asal Naderi, a Portuguese and public health junior. “College was the way I would become an influential member of society, and I simply had to go.”

TOP ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT: Annalisa Calica (psych jr), Jackie Wang (journalism & LAH soph), Davia Roberts (Spanish ’10 & ed psych grad student), Andrés Ruiz Sors (IRG frsh), Brianna Carmen (rhetoric and writing & American studies jr) and William D. Cowan (IRG & gov jr). ROW 2: Abby Adamo (English

incoming frsh), Theodora Costin (psych sr), Peter Thompson (econ soph), Monica Mancera-Li (IRG sr), Kellie Teague (English soph) and Seema Anand (soc sr). ROW 3: Emily You (history & IRG sr), Miguel Aguilar (psych jr), Halcyone B. Wise (soc sr), Ryan Gonzales (gov soph), Sophia Softky (humanities sr) and Zacarias Reed (anthro jr). ROW 4: Elizabeth Dubois (English soph), Jose "Ricardo" Espitia (IRG sr), Kassandra Jade Gonzalez (humanities & Core Texts and Ideas cert. jr), McKenzie Pesnell (English sr), Andrew Houston (urban studies sr) and Petro On (Asian American studies jr). ROW 5: Justin Aguilar (Hispanic studies jr), Kristine Chen (psych sr), Sara Saastamoinen (Plan II sr), Oluchi Ifebi (rhetoric and writing & African American diaspora studies sr), Charley Binkow (history soph) and Emily Atkins (history soph). ROW 6: Michelle Truong (Spanish lit ’13), Mohammad Chauhan (econ jr), Johnie Glasenapp (history sr), William E. Bibee (Plan II, linguistics & classics ’06; Biblical Hebrew Semitic linguistics grad student), Anthony Quinn Saldaña (gov jr) and Helena Ros Comesana (IRG jr). ROW 7: Joe Barone (rhetoric and writing sr), Shea Selby (English sr), Jose Martinez (linguistics sr), Mijal Grossman (geography soph), Andi Trevino (English jr) and Alfonso Ruiz (Spanish sr).


Millennial Nation

Understanding College Debt While higher education is fundamental to millennials, it’s also costing them much more financially than it did previous generations. Plan II and economics ’13 alumna Aneesa Needel borrowed more than $28,000 to pay for school. “I have a lot of student loans,” Needel says. “They funded most of my education. Luckily, I found a job shortly after graduation and I’m slowly paying back these debts.” One in five American households now owe student debt, according to a 2010 Pew Research study. That amount is twice what it was 20 years ago. National trends show that the average student loan balance outstanding in 2010 was $26,682, but 10 percent of student debtors owed more than $61,894. In the 2012–2013 academic year, liberal arts students attending The University of Texas at Austin together borrowed more than $23 million, according to Miguel Wasielewski, program manager of research and assessment for student financial services. The average cost of tuition, room and board and other expenses for a UT liberal arts student per year is $26,692. That’s a total cost of $106,768 for a degree earned in four years. These numbers, however, are higher at peer universities. UT’s resident tuition ranks 10th among 12 peers, and the rate of its increase over three years (fall 2010-fall 2013) is just 4 percent, tied for the lowest percentage increase among 12 peers. Tom Melecki, director of student financial services, says that the millennial generation is becoming more and more reliant on loans. There are two common types of loans that students borrow. The first are need-based loans, which are funded by the government and ensure that students don’t have to pay interest on them while they’re in school, or for the six months after leaving school. The other common type are unsubsidized government and private loans, where interest starts to accrue from the day the student takes out the debt and keeps accruing until the student pays off the loan. “Many times, students are taking out unsubsidized loans because even after we give them all the needbased loans, they still need more money,” Melecki says. “That’s a direct result of a couple things—the rising cost of higher education is one of them. The other is that policy makers in Washington and down at the state Capitol have, in some cases, actually eliminated funding for grant and scholarship programs for financially needy students. “In other cases, they’ve just held the funding steady, but with inflation, in real terms, that’s a reduction in funding. Therefore, students are more and more dependent upon loans,” he says. Miles Hutson, an international relations and computer science sophomore, finances his education in multiple ways. “I have about $10,000 in student loans, which will hold steady now thanks to being awarded an $11,000

“I'm fortunate enough to live in an age where young people have the tools to be instigators of change.”


Nina Ho, French and advertising sophomore per year Larry Temple Scholarship Endowment,” Hutson says. “My tuition is also largely paid for by a Texas Guaranteed Tuition Plan that my grandfather wisely bought before I was old enough to even understand what TGTP was.” Melecki recommends that students carefully review the Office of Student Financial Services’ websites, including and, which can be much more informative than trying to sort through the options alone. Getting a clear picture of the expenses that come with college is crucial to help students and their families understand which financial aid options are right for them. “A lot of the time, families won’t even need the entire loan amount that we’re offering them,” says Jamie-Lynne Brown, communications coordinator for student financial services. “I was just speaking to a student’s dad yesterday and once we were able to track down how much tuition and housing were going to cost, we figured out that he needed less than half of one of the loans he qualified for. That’s not how it is for everybody, but it’s good to at least give them the

Life & Letters Spring 2014


(French & advertising soph) RIGHT PAGE: Levi Scott (anthro jr) and Micah Scott (anthro jr).

opportunity to see.” When families are able to start preparation early it can make a world of difference in the amount of debt students accumulate. “Fortunately, I don’t have any student loans,” says Patty Sanchez, a psychology senior. “My parents are excellent planners and prepared to pay for my college tuition from very early on. Since I am an only child, it’s a bit easier on them to pay for my education. This is probably the gift I am most grateful for from my parents.”

Taking Control of Your Budget The millennial generation is highly motivated and committed to defining their futures on their own terms. Part of that motivation involves establishing themselves in the workforce early on. Having a part-time job while in school can also help students generate income, which leads to them borrowing less money to finance their education. “It depends on the student, but generally working around 10 to 14 hours per week appears to be pretty manageable,” Melecki says. “As a matter of fact,

national studies have shown that students who work around that number of hours actually earn higher GPAs and persist at higher rates than students who don’t work at all.” Student Financial Services helps students find part-time and seasonal jobs through its website, “I have two jobs and both are off-campus,” Naderi says. “I work about 20 hours per week. Working while going to school has taught me how to manage my time more effectively and how to be a smarter consumer. “I try to pay back my student loans at the end of each semester through my own savings and job earnings. I plan to not be in debt by graduation,” she adds. The entrepreneurial spirit is a signifier of both millennials and those who are passionate about the liberal arts. Nina Ho, a French and advertising sophomore, is one example of a UT liberal arts student who has gone out of the way to establish her brand. “Working while going to school is hard but necessary,” says Ho, who works as a freelance graphic designer, social media manager and brand consultant. “It builds character along with time-management skills, and I’ve learned more technical skills being an entrepreneur than sitting in a classroom.” Earning extra income is helpful, but learning to budget as a college student is perhaps the most important skill millennials can pick up. Unfortunately, budgeting isn’t something many students are exposed to prior to leaving the nest. Because room and board is the biggest portion of students’ educational costs each semester, making sure housing is covered is crucial in creating a stable college budget. “One of the benefits of living on campus is that when we process financial aid, we automatically apply it to tuition, then housing,” Brown says. “I’ve actually suggested to students living off campus to go to their apartment complex and pay off their rent for the rest of the semester with their additional financial aid, so that they also have a better idea of what they have to work with.” Knowing how to manage the remainder of their income for the semester can be challenging to students. Precision is vital in keeping a balanced budget. “People need to see what they can spend on a daily basis,” Wasielewski says. “We budget monthly, but we spend daily, so we have to know what we can spend per day, because any given day is an opportunity to completely break your budget.” Students can use a variety of techniques to manage their budgets—from classic handwritten notepads to banking apps to spreadsheets. Because millennials are so comfortable around technology, using newer budgeting tools can help those who weren’t raised on more traditional techniques.

“They're the ones who are going to think about ‘what's next’ rather than ‘what's now.’”

Robert Vega, director of Liberal Arts Career Services


Millennial Nation “Students now have things like, and the apps through Mint, that pull all of their spending in and tell them where exactly they’re spending their money,” Wasielewski says. “There are some technological tools out there that they can use—they just need to know to do it.”

Making Your Time Count “The biggest way to cut back on the money you spend here is to graduate in four years,” Melecki says. “Students really need to ask themselves the question, ‘If I stay an extra year so I can pick up that certificate or double major, is that really that helpful to me?’” There are a variety of reasons that lead students to stay in college past the four-year mark. Millennials want to make sure they’ve chosen the major (or majors) that will lead them into the right career. “On the one hand, graduating in four years would mean I could be out in the job market much more quickly and with less debt to boot,” Hutson says. “On the other, taking an extra summer means I could graduate with more skills on my resume and a degree in both international relations and computer science.” Like Hutson, many students need to weigh the benefits of staying for extra accolades, study abroad programs, changing majors or raising GPAs against the added cost of another year. “During the 2012-2013 school year, liberal arts students borrowed an average $7,459 to pay for a fifth year and $8,249 to pay for a sixth year of school,” Wasielewski says. “In total, nearly $2.1 million in loans was used to fund these additional years.” These trends demonstrate the steady rise in debt students acquire when prolonging their education. The right decision, as usual, depends on each individual. “There can be other peak experiences in your life,” Melecki says, “They don’t all have to happen here on the 40 Acres.”

A Generation on a Mission When graduation is behind them and their professional lives are ahead, millennials have garnered a reputation for being stubborn. Perhaps a more forgiving word is “determined.” “I find that many of them are waiting for that perfect job,” says Robert Vega, director of Liberal Arts Career Services. “They wait a little bit longer than someone in Generation X would have waited, or the baby boomers for sure. They’re completely open to having these gap experiences where they’re going to go home and they’re going to wait tables—so they’re literally waiting—because that perfect job is just around the corner and they’re pretty confident that it will happen.” So what do millennials value in a job? For many, especially those who were passionate about their educational experiences, it’s having access to a lifetime of learning. “If I have a career that consists of me continuing to learn on a topic that fascinates me, I’ll be more than happy,” Sanchez says. A topic that can’t be left out of the ideal job equation is money. While millennials recognize its necessity, salary isn’t the most important thing to them when it comes to accepting a position. Among Americans ages 18 to 34, nearly nine in 10 say they either have or earn enough money now or expect they will in the future, according to a Pew Research Poll. That’s a telling statistic about the motivation millennials have in their job search, especially when their increased student debt is taken into account. “While financial security is important, an interest in performing a job is what drives people to do their best work,” Naderi says. This generation also has certain expectations when it comes to corporate culture. “Millennials are much more mission-driven than previous generations,” Vega says. “They’re looking for that perfect job that’s not only going to support their lifestyle, but they’re also looking for a sense of community, meaning and mission in a variety of industries. “It might be a corporation that has a great sense of sustainability, or a job in the public sector that

TOP ROW: Arjun Mocherla (Plan II & public health sr), Annyston Pennington (English & art history soph), Taiju Hirabayashi (gov jr), and Julia Alvarez (IRG jr). BOTTOM ROW: Sarah Austin (econ jr), Syed Kumail Hasan (gov sr), Jacquelyn Ross (psych frsh), and Emiliano Casiano (gov soph).

“If I have a career that consists of me continuing to learn on a topic that fascinates me, I'll be more than happy.” 22

Patty Sanchez, psychology senior

embodies a sense of patriotism or it could be in some type of communications office that does PR or media for nonprofit causes,” he adds. Ho agrees that the passion her generation holds in finding meaning within their careers is significant. “I am so proud to be a part of a generation that’s more socially aware than its predecessors,” Ho says. “Technology has broken down the barriers of communication and I’m fortunate enough to live in an age where young people have the tools to be instigators of change.”

Millennials in the Workforce

LEFT PAGE: Patty Sanchez (psych sr), RIGHT PAGE: Asal Naderi (public health & Portuguese sr).

Millennials are finding themselves instigators of many different types of change, including in the workplace. “They’re coming into the workforce much more tech-savvy, with strengths in multitasking and creative thinking skill sets and capabilities,” Vega says. “I think millennials are great in team environments, at taking initiative and they really value feedback. They’re also very good at learning what works and trying to adapt to that.” Although millennials have discovered how they work best, their skills and techniques can create a little more conflict in the office. “A lot of hiring managers and managers in general do have some difficulty when it comes to managing millennials, especially if they’re managing teams that combine generations,” Vega says. “While they love feedback, millennials like to work in their own style. That might mean less structure and more independence, even when they’re working in teams. That can go against the grain for their co-workers and employers.” The millennial generation is often accused of lacking stay power when it comes to jobs, but their job mobility may be more strategic than other generations think. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, only 30 percent consider their current job a career, according to a Pew Research study. However, the same study indicates that millennials transition from job to career quickly. Of workers ages 18 to 24, only 11 percent consider their job a career, compared to 34 percent of 25-to-29-year-olds and a whopping 49 percent of Americans ages 30 to 34. “For baby boomers, it was about getting into a company and staying with that one company your whole life,” Vega says. “Millennials are really about landing a job at one company and then immediately thinking about their next step. So where a Generation X member might change jobs every four and a half to five years, a millennial is probably changing every three or fewer years.” Moving from company to company doesn’t always look appealing on a resume because companies want to hire employees they can train and keep around for years, not ones who will jump ship quickly. On the other hand, millennials have found a way to advance faster in their careers than previous generations. “In taking all these risks, taking these leaps between jobs, they’re actually moving up the ladder pretty quickly,” Vega says. “Millennials are finding

themselves in lead management positions at ages much younger than previous generations.”

Subject for a Generation “A liberal arts degree is a generalist degree that makes you a specialist in an area that matters— people,” Ho says. “Technical job demands will always be in flux, but the demand for an understanding of human nature will never change.” A degree in liberal arts seems to go hand-in-hand with the strengths of the millennial generation. It’s a formidable combination that won’t go unnoticed by employers. “Liberal arts millennials are great problem solvers, they think critically, they’re creative and they’re open to learning new ideas and implementing those ideas in a structured environment,” Vega says. “Employers can identify those skills in a liberal arts student, despite a potential lack of experiences on a resume or a lack of hard business experience. “Liberal arts students are the intellectuals, they’re the creative thinkers and they’re the ones who are going to think about ‘what’s next’ rather than ‘what’s now,’” he adds. “Ultimately, I found it important to be in Liberal Arts Honors and the College of Liberal Arts because the world is too big and fascinating—and college is too expensive—for me to spend my entire college career narrowly focusing on a trade,” Hutson says. “I wanted an educational experience that would prepare me to view the world in many different ways.” A degree in liberal arts works so well for millennials because it is beyond simply a career blueprint or a certification. It says something more about the person who holds it. Perhaps Coleman Tharpe, an anthropology and RTF junior, sums it up best. “A degree in liberal arts is essentially a degree, in some aspect, of what it means to be human.”


Ancient City on the Brink

Can a Crimean World Heritage Site Survive the Region’s Latest Political Unrest? BY DAVID OCHSNER


Life & Letters Spring 2014


ast June professor Joseph Carter had reason to celebrate. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had named the ancient city of Chersonesos—a place where he had dedicated more than two decades of his career—a World Heritage Site. It’s not easy to earn UNESCO World Heritage status. For Carter, it required persistence, money and a bit of good fortune—including the end of the Cold War—to bring world recognition to this Crimean city, founded by Greek colonists in the fifth century B.C. With world recognition came the prospect that the site could one day become an archeological park, a rare opportunity for tourists from around the world to explore the interconnections of an ancient city with its rural environment. On March 1, that prospect dimmed as Russian forces seized the Crimean peninsula and the chill of Cold War once again fell over the peninsula and its ancient treasures.

A Waiting Game

Photo: Chris Williams

This isn’t the first time frosty East-West relations blocked a path in Carter’s research. He’s been studying ancient Greek colonial farm life since the early 1970s at Metaponto, in Italy, carving out a niche in classical archaeology by excavating rural sites, learning more about “ordinary people” in the ancient world, such as farmers, and how their rural settlements—known in Greek as the “chora”—interacted with their urban centers. Although research at Metaponto has yielded rich discoveries, Carter knew of another site at the tip of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula that was an even better preserved example of Greek colonial life and succeeding Roman and Byzantine cultures. “I learned about Chersonesos very early, when searching for parallel cases of ancient Greek land division, which was also an important aspect of the chora of Metaponto,” says Carter, who is also director of UT Austin’s Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICA) in the College of Liberal Arts. “Metaponto led quite naturally to Chersonesos, but I had to wait 20 years for the Cold

Few places on Earth have such a long and vital history. We can only hope that the new masters of Crimea will respect it.” Joseph Carter, professor of the Department of Classics and director of the Institute of Classical Archaeology

War to end to travel there.” Chersonesos was located within one of the most secret zones on earth, near the Soviet naval installation at Sevastopol. Although the Cold War had ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sevastopol remained a closed city until the end of 1995. Carter knew he would have to be persistent and a bit lucky to get his foot in the door. Then, at a 1992 conference in Metaponto, Carter met a Russian scholar who was impressed with the ICA’s work in Italy. This scholar had influence with the Ukrainian and Russian governments, and two weeks later Carter received permission from the foreign minister and the commandant of the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol to visit Chersonesos. What he found was a treasure. “The shroud of secrecy actually helped to preserve the site,” Carter says. “Because the area was closed, it was also off-limits to developers.” The site’s condition is remarkable, given its long and turbulent history—countless raids by various tribes, occupation by two empires (Roman and Mongol) and three major wars beginning with the Crimean War of the 1850s. During World War I and the Russian Revolution, control of the area changed hands six times. According to Carter, the Crimean War and World War II in particular left “huge scars.” “We found a lot of ammunition, some unexploded, on our site in the chora known as ‘no name hill,’” he says.

UT First Foreign Team Led by the ICA, UT Austin researchers formed the first American and foreign team given access to the site (or any site in the former Soviet Union), working in collaboration with the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos. They developed an international team including Ukrainians, Russians, Americans and Europeans that focused on the excavation and conservation of farmhouse sites. In 1997 the first results were reported in the New York Times. Two weeks after the article appeared, Carter received a call from David Packard, head of the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) in Los Altos, Calif. “He asked me how much money it would take to realize my dreams for Chersonesos,” Carter says. In the 12 years that would follow, PHI would contribute more than $12 million to the project, including the construction of a laboratory at the site. PHI has also contributed more than $12 million for ICA research at the Metaponto site, bringing PHI’s total contribution to more than $25 million and representing the largest grant ever received by the College of Liberal Arts. “I look back on those early years with great nostalgia. I know we had some phenomenal good luck interesting someone like David Packard who is committed to the humanities and preservation of our cultural heritage,” he says. “I was lucky that I never


Ancient City on the Brink

Transformative Experience Jessica Trelogan, an ICA research associate, recalls the challenges that lay ahead for the early members of the team. She first visited the site in 1996 as a graduate student in classical archaeology, “fell in love with the place,” and began to learn Russian. “It was magical and untouched,” she says, noting that few tools or maps were available to those who explored the site in earlier years. “Those who were previously on the site used butcher knives and homemade brooms for excavation. So we had to fly in our own tools—picks, shovels, even wheelbarrows,” says Trelogan, who played an important early role in teaching the Ukrainians modern excavation, recording and conservation techniques. Mapping a formerly secret site was a challenge that intrigued Trelogan, so much so that she switched her academic focus from classical archaeology to geography, specifically the study of geographical information science (GIS) and remote sensing. “In those early years we had such a challenge getting images because of the secret naval base. I was no doubt being watched by the authorities because I kept asking for maps,” she says. “We also had problems using GPS because the Russians, who were in control of the port area, deliberately gave us skewed GPS points. It was a bit of a goose chase.”

Ukraine Crimea

Chersonesos site Black Sea 26



In 1998, Trelogan wrote the first of two successful grants to NASA to fund the production of site images from air and space. “Remember, this was pre-Google Earth,” she says, noting that some of the best aerial views provided by NASA were declassified satellite photos from the 1960s. “These images were amazingly detailed, created in stereo pairs to show topographic highlights. They gave us a valuable look at the site that predates some of the later development that occurred in the area.” Like Trelogan, Adam Rabinowitz also saw his academic career take an unexpected turn at the site. He went from being a student at the University of Michigan in 2000 to Carter’s field director at Chersonesos in 2002. “I’d been doing my dissertation work in Italy, but the field there was very crowded. Chersonesos was attractive because it was more open, with a lot of material that hadn't been studied and was not available in the West,” says Rabinowitz, an assistant professor of classics at UT Austin and assistant director of the ICA. “I had to shift my geographical focus as well as cultural focus, and quickly learn more about the Byzantine world and how to speak passable Russian.” He says the close personal relationships formed between the ICA team and the Ukrainians were vital to the project’s success. “That’s why they had us there so long. It was a collaborative environment,” he says. “They were experts in navigating the local situation and the politics, and we brought equipment and archeological expertise. The World Heritage Site designation happened because together we put Chersonesos on a global stage.” At the site, Rabinowitz delved into aspects of Byzantine culture that had previously received little attention from scholars. “Much of past research by Byzantine scholars centers on basilicas—they are often all that remain to be studied since much of the Byzantine world is buried under modern cities,” Rabinowitz says. “Chersonesos offers a unique opportunity to study 12th and 13th century Byzantine residential life, where people lived and even worshiped at the block level. The data set we are producing will be seminal for this period and culture.”

Joseph Carter, left, director of the College of Liberal Art’s Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICA), with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (1993-1998) William Green Miller, now a senior policy scholar at the Kennan Institute; at Balaklava in the Crimea. The tower of the Genoese fort of Cembalo can be seen in the background.

Photo courtesy of the Institute of Classical Archaeology

had to beg for money. Even my favorite Latin teacher, Lois Larson, asked me at the time, ‘how much do you need?’ She sent me $500 every year.” In those early days, Carter knew it would be important to pursue a nomination to UNESCO’s World Heritage list to help protect the site from possible damage by developers or, more likely, from the Russian Orthodox Church and an archbishop who advocated for the destruction of “pagan” artifacts at the site. A facsimile baptistry had also been lowered— by a huge unmarked helicopter—onto the foundations of an ancient basilica at Chersonesos. “We don't know for sure who was responsible for lowering the ugly structure onto the 6th century AD foundations,” Carter says. “It looked like a refreshments kiosk.” Other obstacles included the UNESCO requirements themselves, which Carter describes as “numerous, onerous and very precise.” He says the Packard support was crucial in enabling the team to conduct the enormous amount of work necessary to excavate and conserve both city and rural sites.

Life & Letters Spring 2014

“In order to capture the overall layout of the dig site, we needed to take pictures from above. The easiest way to do this was to hire a truck with a small crane attachment,” says Adam Rabinowitz, ICA assistant director. “These trucks were invariably no-frills Soviet-era vehicles. They’d pull up, put out a couple of braces, level the feet of the braces with rocks or wooden blocks, and extend the crane. The drivers were invariably highly skilled, but there was no safety equipment, and the truck often seemed in danger of tipping over. The arm and the basket I was standing in swayed with every gust of wind. The view was great, and it allowed me to take very good overhead pictures of the excavations, but it was also pretty terrifying.”

Grave-stelai photo: Chris Williams, Crane photo: Adam Rabinowitz

A Place in World History

Stele (grave-marker) of Megakles, the son of Sannion, late 4th or early 3rd century B.C. Painted grave-stelai were not unusual in the Greek world at this time, but they are rarely preserved with their painting intact. The Chersonesan stelai were reused in the construction of a defensive wall after standing for a relatively short time, thus preserving the paint to a remarkable degree. Because there are a large number of stelai from this period, Richard Posamentir, a scholar working with ICA, was able to reconstruct a set of symbolic references to age and gender identity in the iconography of the stelai. A sword like the one on this stele seems to indicate a citizen male who died in the prime of his life.

When excavation ended in 2006, the team turned its focus to the heritage designation and preparing the site for visitors. An international exchange was set up with UT Austin’s Harry Ransom Center to assist archivists in Ukraine with the care of document collections. Students from UT’s Landscape Architecture program also assisted in developing plans for an archeological park. In 2010, Ukraine’s minister of culture contacted Carter, and at a subsequent meeting in New York City they struck a deal: ICA would try to persuade PHI to finance the world's first archaeological park of the ancient chora, and the ministry would obtain the legal deed to the land from the city of Sevastopol. The current director of the preserve (who is a former mayor of Sevastopol) secured the deed, but the park remains to be built. At the celebration of the UNESCO nomination in Sevastopol in September 2013, the European Union expressed interest in working with the ICA to make the park a reality. With the recent Russian takeover of Crimea, that has become a remote possibility. “The world heritage site designation happened because ICA and PHI gave the preserve the means and expertise, and made it known worldwide,” Carter says. “We thought that it would save the preserve and protect it from future incursions.” He says Chersonesos commands respect because of its significance in world history as the birthplace of democracy in that region and of Christianity in the Slavic world. “Few places on Earth have such a long and vital history. We can only hope that the new masters of Crimea will respect it,” Carter concludes. “The major threat now is a takeover of the site by the Russian Orthodox Church, with which Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to be very cozy. That would surely result in the loss of World Heritage status, and a loss to the rest of the world.”


Making the Grade Strategies for Improving Education in America BY JESSICA SINN



ew dispute the value of education, but discussions about how our nation should improve it are becoming more intense and polarized. Of all the competing arguments—more technology, smaller classrooms, improved teacher training, universal pre-kindergarten—most people would agree that America’s education system needs to improve, and soon. According to recent standardized test results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), U.S. schools remain stagnant, while other countries race ahead. Findings show that our nation’s 15-year-olds are in the middle of the global pack in reading and science while lagging in math. That pattern has not fluctuated much since the PISA test was first given in 2000. While some believe these results are a wake-up call for policymakers and education officials, others argue that Americans haven’t topped international test rankings since the 1960s, but still rank high in innovation. Compared to its own history, the U.S. education system may be treading water just fine. But compared to the rest of the world, it needs work—and quickly, says Jeremi Suri, professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Now is the time for schools to focus on preparing students for an increasingly competitive, interconnected global economy, Suri says. Most jobs will go to the most capable individuals, regardless of geography. Without quality education, U.S. students are at risk of losing out to their international competitors. “The quality of education is becoming more and more important in terms of one’s ability to be actively engaged and contribute to business and intellectual life around the world,” Suri says. “It’s not just a degree, it’s a set of skills you need to communicate. And as the world is becoming more competitive, education is


more of a defining measure of whether you’re included or excluded.” Several leading scholars in the College of Liberal Arts are exploring new ways to bring the United States back to the top of the international podium—from school readiness, to teacher training, to re-defining parental involvement.

The Case for Early Education School readiness—the skills children bring with them to kindergarten—is a particular cause for concern in our nation’s political discourse. In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama emphasized the need to “make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America,” rallying support among advocates who have long argued that universal pre-kindergarten is an investment in society that will ultimately pay out in high dividends. To quote Obama, “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on.” Preschool children are already enhancing their language and literacy development before setting foot in kindergarten, says Rob Crosnoe, professor of sociology and Population Research Center associate. With these skills, they are well ahead of the learning curve, leaving their underprivileged classmates behind. Yet the children who need these language skills the most are less likely to attend preschools. According to a 2013 Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, U.S. Hispanic children have the lowest preschool attendance rate compared to all other racial groups. However, more first-generation immigrant children are outperforming their U.S-born classmates

Life & Letters Spring 2014

“The quality of education is becoming more and more important in terms of one’s ability to be actively engaged and contribute to business and intellectual life around the world.” Jeremi Suri, professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs

in secondary school, Crosnoe says. This phenomenon, coined by social scientists as the “immigrant paradox,” appears to hold better for some age ranges than others. In a recent study, Crosnoe found this pattern of academic success isn’t as consistent among young children, who are much less likely than their peers from U.S.-born families to get a formal preschool education. The biggest disadvantage, Crosnoe says, is the language barrier. “When children of immigrant parents start their first day in kindergarten, they’re already showing disparities in social class and race,” Crosnoe says. “And once they get into the school system, those small yet significant disparities tend to grow, leading to dropout in high school and college. That’s why it brings greater return to investment if you can eliminate those differences early on.” Crosnoe says the higher-achieving first-generation students do better than later, more Americanized generations—and that happens across all racial and ethnic groups. Over time, as they assimilate with their

classmates, they tend to lose their idealistic goals of achieving the “American dream,” a value that their parents often teach to them at a very young age. “As children in immigrant families get older, they become more acculturated and lose their positive attitude toward parents and teachers over time,” Crosnoe says. “They become more adjusted to typical teenage life and that’s when their grades begin to slip.” In addition to quality preschools, Crosnoe sees the need for more programs, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, that can help demystify the educational process for parents and students. He believes these structural changes could go a long way in increasing their economic and social contributions to American society.

Hands Off the Homework There’s no underestimating the parents’ value in their child’s education. Many go above and beyond to give their children an academic edge by volunteering in the classroom, coaching extracurricular activities or devoting hours of their time to daily homework tutorials. These all seem like effective strategies for putting children on the road to success, yet Keith Robinson, assistant professor of sociology and Population Research Center associate, has found evidence to the contrary. In one of the most thorough scientific investigations to date of how parents contribute to the academic performance of K-12 children, Robinson and Angel Harris, a sociology professor at Duke University, examined 63 different forms of parental involvement at home and at school. Surprisingly, they found almost all of the observed activities are mostly


Making the Grade

inconsequential—sometimes even detrimental. Among the findings detailed in their new book, The Broken Compass, one particular problem area is parents helping with homework. Despite their best intentions, many parents are ill-equipped to handle the material their kids are studying now, Robinson says. But this doesn’t mean that parents need to take a laissez-faire approach to their children’s schooling. In the study, the researchers found one form of parental involvement that produced positive results across the board: Talking to their children about future academic goals. So rather than taking a hands-on approach to schoolwork and extracurricular activities, Robinson suggests that parents should drive the message home that good grades lead to a promising future. Although the researchers found more similarities than differences in parental involvement across all racial and economic groups, they found Asian parents are most successful at communicating the value of school. “We found Korean, Japanese and Chinese families are hardly involved in most of the activities we measured,” Robinson says. “This is really interesting because these ‘model minority’ parents have the most successful children. Although they’re not partaking in the conventional behaviors, they appear to be effectively communicating the value of school.” Robinson stresses the fact that parents matter— in a very big way. He believes now is the time to pinpoint how they can best help their children in new, unconventional ways. Although his research has only scratched the surface of parent-child learning, he believes that with the right interventions, parents— from all walks of life—will become much more effective in strategizing their children’s academic pursuits. “We need to look at ourselves, at our parents, at our schools to figure out how parents matter,” Robinson says. “My hope is that schools will be able to work with parents to create a seamless educational environment. We need more discussions with both parents and educators about what works for which types of children—and at what stage in their education.”

Raising the Bar A growing body of research is showing that positive encouragement can go a long way in pushing children to meet their true academic potential. Sometimes just a teacher’s remark can prompt a student to push harder, make better grades and envision a better future. According to new research conducted by David Yeager, assistant professor of psychology, the key to unlocking student success may lie within empowering messages. Rather than telling a student, “Great job—you’re smart!” a teacher could unlock motivation by emphasizing that learning and growth are more important than natural ability. “Teaching students that intelligence can be developed—that like a muscle it grows with hard work and good strategies—can help them view struggles in school not as a threat but as an opportunity to grow and learn,” Yeager says. Yeager says his findings have important implica-


Why do parents struggle when helping with homework?


Don’t understand the material tions for teachers across the nation who must help students meet new Common Core standards. Adopted by 45 states, the standards set “college readiness” goals for what students should learn in reading and math from one year to the next. The standards will be fully implemented by the 2014-15 academic year. “When districts adopt the new higher standards, more students will fail to meet them,” Yeager says. “How will they respond? Will they be resilient, and keep working? Or give up? Psychology has a lot to say about making sure that students stay in the game as standards rise.” Say their kids don’t Students have a tendency want their help to think struggling in school means they’re just plain dumb, Yeager says. But when teachers counteract this thinking, they become more resilient. In a recent study, Yeager found students significantly improved when they received messages from their teachers that conveyed higher standards and genuine beliefs in their abilities. Sentiments such as, “This work will be hard, but remember I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I didn’t believe you could grow your ability and reach a higher standard,” dramatically accelerated all students’ academic performance. “These seemingly small messages can help repair mistrust that sometimes occurs when minority students are criticized by majority group teachers,” Yeager says. “When students trust their teachers, they can use critical feedback to grow and improve.” In a forthcoming study, Yeager and his colleague Greg Walton, a psychology professor at Stanford University, delivered positive messages about growth and potential to more than 10,000 freshmen at several U.S. universities. They found one-time exposures to these messages in the summer before the fall semester resulted in positive effects—in some cases reducing achievement gaps by 50 percent. These findings have important implications for educators, yet Yeager stresses a word of caution when applying positive interventions in everyday classrooms. “In an effort to keep students from feeling ‘dumb,’ teachers tell students they are ‘smart,’” Yeager says. “Or they praise them for things that anyone can do. But this can backfire. It makes students focus on ‘smartness’ or it can communicate low expectations.” Yeager says both psychological and structural interventions could lead to significant improvements in American schools. “Strategies that address problematic student beliefs complement—but do not replace—traditional



Are too busy

Source: National Center for Family Legacy

Life & Letters Spring 2014

educational reforms,” Yeager says. “Psychological interventions don’t teach students academic content or skills, restructure schools or improve teaching. Instead they allow students to seize opportunities to learn.”

Testing, Testing Engaging students to learn is no easy task for public school teachers who face the pressures of revolving their lessons around standardized testing, or what is called “teaching to the test.” Although these tests serve a purpose in school accountability, it’s time to rethink U.S. education standards that stress rote learning and largely ignore critical thinking, says Suri. “I’m not against testing, but it takes the creativity out of teaching,” Suri says. “And oftentimes the material they’re teaching is boring, uninspiring and sometimes even wrong. It’s sort of like requiring actors to follow the same formula in all of their movies. You’ll stop watching because they’re boring and predictable.” While basing classroom instructions on how to fill in all the right bubbles on a multiple-choice test, teachers are missing important opportunities to ignite a thirst for knowledge, Suri says. “I come from a very modest immigrant family and attended public schools in New York City,” Suri says. “I will always be thankful for the teachers who gave me opportunities—not just to become a better student— but to understand the importance of lifelong learning. I’m very grateful, and now I want to give something back.” To pay it forward, Suri brings a group of top public school teachers from across the nation to UT Austin for a weeklong professional development seminar. Sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History—one of the leading educational foundations in the country—the goal is to help teachers gather new research and breathe new life into their

Recommended Reading The Broken Compass Parental Involvment with Children’s Education Harvard University Press, Jan. 2014 By Keith Robinson, assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Center for African and African American Studies and Population Research Center associate; and Angel L. Harris

Fitting In, Standing Out: Navigating the Social Challenges of High School to Get an Education Cambridge University Press, March 2011 By Robert Crosnoe, professor, Department of Sociology and Population Research Center associate

history lessons. With a focus on the history of U.S. foreign policy, the seminars include readings and lectures by distinguished professors, as well as tours of archives and book collections in world-class libraries and museums. Suri says this is one of the many steps that universities should take to extend a wealth of research materials to public school educators. “Teachers touch the lives of so many students,” Suri says. “It’s our obligation to provide the materials to prepare students and also inspire them. I want teachers to know that we care about what they’re doing and to inspire them to work hard. I want them to pass this message on to their students.” Joan Neuberger, professor of history, is all too familiar with the pitfalls of “teaching to the test.” She often meets with history teachers to gather information for the History Department’s public history website, Not Even Past. Neuberger says one of the biggest challenges for teachers is staying current on the best and most recent research while facing pressures to prepare students for standardized tests in overcrowded classes every day. With this in mind, Neuberger and her colleagues provide a wealth of new, reliable history research to the public on Not Even Past. It offers free materials— from videos with top history scholars, to faculty book recommendations, to articles about overlooked corners of history. “Because a fundamental part of our job as university professors is to produce new research and know the literature in our fields, we’re in a position to provide primary and secondary school teachers with resources in a format that is readily accessible,” Neuberger says. “I think it is especially important to counter misinformation and misguided policies that reach the public sphere.” Specifically produced with secondary school teachers and students in mind, the website’s 15-Minute History podcast series features interviews with leading historians and graduate students about various topics in U.S. and world history. Complete with supplemental materials, the episodes are aligned with state and national educational standards. “Our goal is to make the work we do on complex and even contradictory events accessible to everyone,” says Neuberger, who co-created the series with Christopher Rose, outreach director for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. “We must be doing something right, since 15 Minute History has been ranked the No. 1 collection on all of iTunesU since Jan. 21.” By providing much-needed learning resources, Suri and Neuberger aim to help educators succeed. Teachers play a critical role in helping our young people—the next generation of scholars, thought leaders, workers and parents—understand that they can make a difference in building a better world, Suri says. “Education is about bringing the American dream into the classroom,” Suri says. “You want a poor immigrant child to imagine him or herself as the next president of the United States, or as a CEO. They have to dream it—and history is a great way to do that because it tells the story about the people who lived the reality of it.”



be happy at home and work, so pick a career that you have passion for. As people graduate and think about launching their careers, not every job you take will do that for you, so you have to have this overarching sense of building a career. One thing that helped me stand out when I didn’t have the business credentials was my ability to communicate. People are making more—both conscious and subconscious—assessments about who you are and what you are by how you conduct yourself and how you communicate. That’s doubly true in a world that’s gotten so informal through the way people text each other. Translated into a business environment, that doesn’t necessarily serve you well. We hire a lot of liberal arts graduates because I think they are more balanced in that ability and that’s a critical skill as you go through your career. Does your liberal arts education give you an advantage in banking? When I first started in banking, I was at a credit-training program and we had to write analytical memorandums. All the accounting majors had, “this one up by this much and this one down”—I called it the elevator memos. I always thought about the context of the company, the competitive environment and how they were positioned. I could give context and meaning to things that I learned from my liberal arts degree as opposed to being able to just crunch numbers with the best of them.

Banking on Liberal Arts

Beth Mooney, History ’77, is the chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, making her the first female chief of a top 20 U.S. bank. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, she oversees more than 15,000 employees and $91 billion in assets. She has been named one of the most powerful women in banking by Forbes, Fortune and American Banker. What are some of your fondest memories of Austin? The Armadillo World Headquarters, which breaks my heart is gone, Zilker Park and Scholz Beer Garten. I jokingly tell people I went to Texas when 6th Street was a street. One of my fond memories of Austin was being there when progressive country music was coming of age with “Waylon and Willie and the boys.” While I’m a person who loves my work, I also like to live life to the fullest. What career advice would you offer to new graduates? Life is either too long or too short to not


What does it mean to be named one of the most “powerful women” in banking? I recognize that I’m in an industry where being the first female CEO, much like our new CEO at GM, is groundbreaking. I also see it as both an opportunity and obligation. I get to be a leader who says you can do things the right way for the right reasons and it can be good for your shareholders, too. When I became CEO, I went to a Harvard Business School class for new CEOs. They had you give your retirement speech. One of the things I said was, “I think it will be a great day when I retire, if the fact that I was the first female CEO is a footnote, not the headline.” Interview by Michelle Bryant

Illustrations: Janis Fowler

Beth Mooney

What were some of the lessons you learned during the 2008 financial crisis? If you don’t take stock and learn lessons, history is destined to repeat itself. From my perspective and view of the industry, I believe we did learn our lessons. There was never a moment in the downturn that I wasn’t proud to be a banker because I believe our industry is vital to the American economy. I always say write down that list of things you promised you’d never do again if you had to do it over. One of the things I talk about in our company is the clarity around what’s our purpose, what’s our vision, what’s our strategy. How we execute and stay consistent about that is the path forward where you don’t find yourself taking the opportunistic turn—the wrong fork in the road that a lot of people took during the financial downturn. Warren Buffett has a saying: “Until the tide goes out, you don’t know who’s skinny dipping.”

Life & Letters Spring 2014


Christina Melton Crain

Reducing Recidivism

Christina Melton Crain, Government ’88, is president and CEO of DOORS, a reentry advocacy nonprofit based in Dallas that focuses on reducing recidivism (repeat offending). She is the only woman ever to have served as the chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. Crain has practiced law for more than 20 years, specializing in children/juvenile representation, governmental issues and mediation. Tell us about DOORS. DOORS is a hub/clearinghouse to get offenders the services they need to get back on their feet. We assess their needs, create a custom plan for each client, send them to service providers and monitor them throughout the process for up to four years. We have 42 plus partners now: mental health, hospital care, housing, substance abuse, employment, etc. Who is eligible to participate? Anyone who has been or is incarcerated or has been on any form of correctional supervision—18 years and older. We also include juveniles who were tried as adults or have aged out of the juvenile system. How many clients has the program served to date? Several thousand. People can access DOORS by several different means: as a self- or community-referral, through the court or prison system or through a grant. Last year, we started placing ads in the inmate newsletter at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice called The ECHO. After three ads, we had received 500 letters from offenders. To date we have received more than 2,300 letters. What are the biggest barriers to reentry? Housing is the No. 1 issue. Not everyone comes back to a family with open arms. The family may have disowned them; or the environment isn’t one they should go back to; or they are the incarnated homeless. We need to find them housing and there is just not enough available. What’s next? We have just started the first statewide pre-release program with a grant from the governor. We access the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prison/state jail units and do the same thing we do in the free world—personal assessments, targeted custom case plans, etc. But with this program we do the services inside the prison pre-release, so everything is in place for the offender once they are released and return to the community. Why should the general public care about recidivism? It’s something that affects us all. We have 70,000 plus offenders being released from TDCJ back into the community every year in Texas. We have to decide if we’re fine letting our tax dollars continue

paying to build prisons and letting someone go back 10-14 times or do just a little more and put the money in a different direction. Some of your clients come from the Christina Melton Crain Unit, named in your honor. How do they react when they meet you? I go there about once a month to work with the women, so I know a lot of them. Everybody reacts differently. Some people think if your name is on a building you must be deceased. It’s pretty funny! The reaction I receive most often from the women is one of surprise that the woman whose name is on the building is actually there talking and working with them. I am humbled by the naming and take it very seriously. That is why I give back. I play in a rock ‘n’ roll band, The Catdaddies, and we go to the unit once a year to do a concert. It is my favorite gig that we play because you watch the women and for an hour and a half as they sing all the words—you can tell it takes them away and probably brings back memories of a better time. How has your liberal arts education prepared you? It gave me a well-rounded education and sense of the makeup of the world—the different cultures, people, ways of life and ways of thinking. It gave me the basic skills that I feel have allowed me to succeed. I will forever be grateful and proud of my time at UT. Interview by Michelle Bryant


Q&A I learned in Bob Switzer’s obituary: how he and his brother Joe invented daylight fluorescent colors in the 1930s and 1940s. I thought that a picture book actually using the colors they invented would be the ideal format for telling this story about how part of our everyday world came to be. Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities: Connecting the dots between John Howard Griffin (the author of Black Like Me, about his experiences as a white man traveling the segregated South with artificially darkened skin), Solomon Perel (a German Jewish teenager who masqueraded as a Hitler Youth during World War II) and Keron Thomas (a 16-year-old New Yorker who impersonated a subway motorman and drove the A train for three hours in 1993). They had all pretended—for diverse reasons— to be someone they weren’t. Because trying on new identities is an essential part of growing up, I believed that young readers would relate to these stories and others like them.

Keeping It Real

Chris Barton, History ’93, is an award-winning, bestselling children’s author of Shark Vs. Train, The Day-Glo Brothers and Can I See Your I.D.? He lives in Austin with his wife, Jennifer, and their four children. Who are your favorite authors? Aside from the one I’m married to—Jennifer Ziegler, who writes novels for young readers—the authors that come to mind are Texas journalist, novelist and playwright Larry L. King (start with Warning: Writer at Work and None But a Blockhead: On Being a Writer) and Isabella Wilkerson, whose The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration is a magnificent piece of reporting and storytelling. What inspired The Day-Glo Brothers and Can I See Your I.D.? Both are based on true stories. The Day-Glo Brothers: I couldn’t stop thinking about what


What lessons would you like to impart to your young readers? That the world is an endlessly interesting and frequently amusing place, and that there are authors who respect young readers enough to honestly share with them the things we’re learning for ourselves along the way. What’s next? I’m always working on a new book or three. Over the next couple of years, I’ll have new nonfiction books published about video games (Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet), a young man who in ten years went from teenaged field slave to U.S. congressman (The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch), the three ballet-dancing Utah brothers responsible for a certain holiday tradition (Pioneers & Pirouettes: The Story of America’s First Nutcracker) and the inventor of the Super Soaker water gun (Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super Stream of Ideas). Oh, and one about a bird of prey who can’t quite nab the bunny he’s aiming for (Carrot Hawk), because sometimes it’s fun just to make stuff up. Interview by Macey Shay

Illustration: Janis Fowler

Chris Barton

How do you stay connected to your community? When I was an undergraduate, the key to not feeling tiny and insignificant on a campus of 50,000 was to find meaningful communities within the place. The Daily Texan was the community that drew me to UT in the first place, but it wasn’t the only one that sustained me: There were my fellow students from Sulphur Springs, and other recipients of the same scholarships and the guys I met at Jester. I couldn’t walk across campus without running into someone I knew. That’s been the key to retaining a sense of community in Austin—those relationships are crucial to making Austin feel like home, no matter how big the place gets.

Life & Letters Spring 2014

Writing Home

Photo: Marsha Miller

Chicano Literature Professor Rolando Hinojosa-Smith Wins National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award

The National Book Critics Circle has honored Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, an author and professor in the Departments of English and Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Texas at Austin, with the 2013 Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. He received the award during a ceremony March 13 in New York City. The award is given annually to a person or institution that has made significant contributions to book culture over time. Hinojosa-Smith is a native of the Rio Grande Valley, the setting for his novels about life along the Texas-Mexico border. He is best known for his Klail City Death

Trip series, which comprises 15 novels to date. The second book in the series, Klail City, won the most prestigious prize in Latin American fiction, Premio Casa de las Américas, in 1976. The first book in the series, Sketches of the Valley, won the Premio Quinto Sol, for the best fictional work by a Mexican American author, in 1973. Hinojosa-Smith described the award as “a lovely surprise.”

 “We in the English Department are proud of Rolando’s literary achievements and delighted by this prestigious award,” says Elizabeth Cullingford, professor and chair of the Department of English. “Like William Faulkner, Rolando has immortal-

ized his ‘little postage stamp of native soil,’ the borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley. He has fans all over the world, some of whom have already written dissertations on his work.”

 An accomplished novelist, translator and essayist, 84-year old Hinojosa-Smith is the Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of Creative Writing in the College of Liberal Arts, where he has taught for nearly three decades. His other novels, often published in Spanish and English, include Ask a Policeman, The Useless Servants, Becky and Her Friends, Dear Rafe and Rites and Witnesses.


Life & Letters Spring 2014


Liberal Arts Matter in a STEM World BY ART MARKMAN


ABOVE: Catherine Crago, Diversity Interactive founder and executive producer; Art Markman, UT Austin HDO director and Isaac Barchas, Austin Technology Incubator director (at podium), present at the March 3 SXSWedu panel The Liberal Arts Matter in a STEM World.

and the military would benefit from a deeper exposure to the liberal arts. Our first class of HDO master’s students—representing a variety of backgrounds—has come together to delve into the disciplines that will improve their abilities to lead people and organizations. In particular, the liberal arts provide today’s leaders with a valuable perspective on modern problems. There is a tendency to assume that the difficulties we face in the 21st century are unique—unlike anything seen before in history. For our HDO students, this notion is quickly dispelled. Paul Woodruff, former dean of undergraduate studies and Darrell K. Royal Regents Professor in Ethics and American Society, taught a class in leadership to our master’s students. His background is in the classics, so many of his assigned texts are ancient. His students quickly learned that despite today’s technological advances, the “people problems” facing modern business are fundamentally similar to issues that society has grappled with for centuries. It

is the benefit of this perspective that helps students draw on thousands of years of analysis from across many cultures in dealing with the issues of the here and now. There are many reasons to study the liberal arts. There is great joy in being a well-rounded individual. There is profound wisdom to be gathered from studying the world’s cultures. There is a deep appreciation of individual differences to be garnered by exploring the incredible diversity of human expression. If your reasons also include a solid return on a workplace investment, you will find that the liberal arts is a vast repository of solutions to some of our most pressing problems, a body of knowledge and a way of thinking that is crucial for success both today and in the long term. Art Markman is the Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing and founding director of the Human Dimensions of Organizations program. His most recent book is Smart Change: Five Tools to Create Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others (Perigee).

Markman photo : Marsha Miller Conference photo: Lewis C. Miller

Isaac Barchas is the director of the Austin Technology Incubator, which helps earlystage technology companies to develop in order to get an initial round of funding from investors. From that perch, you might imagine that he sees science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the STEM disciplines) as the core of economic growth in Austin. And, to be sure, he does realize that these disciplines matter a lot. But when he analyzes the reasons why new ventures fail, he points out that problems with the technology or engineering are rarely the cause of a company’s demise. Sometimes, it is just bad luck. A competitor comes in and snatches away an opportunity before the startup can get its product off the ground. But more often the problem comes down to people. Perhaps the company founder cannot recognize that he or she needs to give up some control to a person with more business experience. Or the founding team does not communicate effectively. Or the company misestimates the target market for the product. Or the company fails to tell its story in a compelling way. The skills needed to solve these problems are not STEM-based skills. Some of them are specific professional skills—a company needs to know how to ask for financing and to spend money wisely—but many solutions require people skills. And that is where the liberal arts come in. The liberal arts are all about people. We study the way individuals act, how groups pass information and how cultures maintain behaviors. We explore the philosophy underlying ethical behavior. We tease apart the principles of effective communication and develop ways to understand what people are not telling you. The program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations was created with the recognition that many people in the world of business, nonprofits, government

Life & Letters Spring 2014

Photo: Marsha Miller

Walk Like A Texan

Pictured is a child’s sandal from a West Texas dry shelter site, likely 2,500-3,000 years old, that is housed in the collections at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL).

TARL is a nationally recognized archeological research facility and the largest archeological repository in the state. As part of the College of Liberal Arts, its mission is to collect, preserve and curate archeological specimens and records, train graduate and undergraduate students, conduct research and disseminate information about Texas' archeological legacy. It also holds significant collections from outside the state, especially from Louisiana, New Mexico and Belize. To learn more about TARL and its collections visit:


Nonprofit Org. US Postage


Office of the Dean 116 Inner Campus Drive, G6000 Austin, TX 78712-1257

Austin, Texas Permit #391

What Starts Here Changes the World

Life & Letters • Spring 2014  

The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin publishes Life & Letters for its community of scholars, alumni and friends....

Life & Letters • Spring 2014  

The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin publishes Life & Letters for its community of scholars, alumni and friends....