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WHAT’S INSIDE p2 President Powers Addresses Staff Council

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F O R P E O P L E W H O M A K E G R E AT T H I N G S H A P P E N AT U T

FEBRUARY 2009

LbJ dean steinberg Obama’s Deputy Secretary of State

LbJ Prof. Jeanne Lambrew Obama’s deputy director, White House Office of Health Reform

p4 the Knitting nest: Employee Discount Program Business of the Month

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By Tara Haelle

sam gosling ‘Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You’

p8 Alan Constant Director, UT Learning Center

p10 tom gilligan, Dean, McCombs School of Business

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hen LBJ School Dean James Steinberg was tapped to be the next Deputy Secretary of State, serving as Hillary Clinton’s right-hand man, University officials were not surprised. After all, they knew they had hired the best, and that they had him on borrowed time. “From the moment we were recruiting him, there was a sense that here was somebody who was going to be very attractive for government,” President Bill Powers said. “His position at the time – which he has honored entirely – was that he would be dean here for the long run, save the possibility that he was asked to go back to a very high level position in an administration.” Powers and Larry Temple, president of the LBJ Foundation and a member of the search committee that brought Steinberg on board, said the recruitment process was not easy. It took several months for Steinberg to agree to

Photo Tara Haelle

accept the position, primarily because he already had roots in Washington D.C. He was vice president and director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, and his wife, Sherry Abbott, was very involved in sustainable resources policies in the city. “It was hard recruiting him for good reason,” Powers said. “He’s somebody who had lots of opportunities. To uproot him from what he was doing was hard.” Steinberg, however, was exactly the candidate the search committee was looking for, Temple said. “There was a view that it ought to be someone who had a pretty fi rm foot planted in academic type experiences and another foot equally fi rmly planted in having been involved in the public arena, either in government as a practitioner or some way or another in the area of public aff airs,” Temple said. Steinberg’s resume was impressive

when he arrived, including appointments in the Bill Clinton administration. He served as chief of staff in the State Department and director of the State Department’s policy planning staff from 1994 to 1996. He then served as deputy national security advisor to Clinton from December 1996 to August 2000, during which time he represented Clinton at the 1998 and 1999 G8 summits. Much earlier in his career, Steinberg served as Senator Ted Kennedy’s aide for the Senate Armed Services Committee. It was there that he worked alongside Kennedy’s press secretary, Austinite Bob Mann. “Kennedy tends to hire the best and the brightest,” Mann said. “His job required so much study and so much need for speed. He spent a lot of time reading serious policy, and he probably spent a lot of time over at the Pentagon.” Steinberg’s thorough understanding Continued page 6


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campus • february 2009

Powers Speaks to Staff Council Discussions about potential layoffs, pay cuts and hiring freeze

By Kira Taniguchi

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n light of recent economic times, the budget was the main item of discussion during the first University of Texas Staff Council meeting of 2009. President William Powers answered questions from staff representatives regarding hiring freezes, hiring within the University and potential layoffs and pay cuts. Powers lauded the recent election of Speaker of the House Joe Straus referring to him as pragmatic with a good understanding of the needs of the state. He said that the University is poised to handle a down cycle, at least in the short term, thanks to the political and university leadership over a long period of time. A portion of the money received from endowments is reserved during the high years, putting the University in good stead during the down ones. He said that Texas’ economy is faring much better than other states around the country. Not downplaying the situation, Powers prefaced his comments about the economic outlook: “We are in a very volatile situation and anything I say now could change in three months. If we start to come out of the recession in six months, we’ll take a hit, but we move forward. If it’s a two-year recession, it will be a different situation.” “The State has also done a good job through leadership in the House, Senate and governor’s office – [they’ve] spent a great deal

of time – and recurring budgets are sustainable over long periods of time,” he said. Though the budget is a lesser amount than what was forecasted in projections, there is not any less money for higher education, Powers said. Even though the GR budget is slightly up with no major cuts, it will be tight. In many other states around the country, university budgets are going to be down 10 to 20 percent. That said, Powers opened the floor to questions. In response to a question about whether taking minimum voluntary pay cuts to avoid layoffs, or other creative options were on the horizon, Powers said he does not anticipate layoffs or salary cuts right now. “So I don’t think we’re going to come to that,” he said. “My general philosophy is if we have a shortfall, reduce what we do and adequately reward the people doing it.” He advocated this approach rather than taking it out on services and the backs of people providing those services. He continued, “My general view is more inclined, if it ever came to that, and I did this in the law school, to have some modest layoffs.” Powers made it clear that savings from the layoffs would not fund tremendous pay increases, but would help avoid asking people to take pay cuts. However, he made sure to reiterate that layoffs are not currently an option. If it ever comes to that, Powers said the first place to look is attrition, and the second is to be care-

ful about hiring. The governor has not issued a hiring freeze, so important positions will continue to be filled. “What we have asked of deans, vice presidents and administrative units, is that they think very carefully about hiring,” Powers said. “The message right now is that if it is not pretty important to go ahead with the hire, think carefully about it. Come April, you might think of a higher priority than that position.” The University will think very carefully about the hiring process and be selective when choosing the positions that absolutely need to be filled, he said. He emphasized again, “Those are not in the offering right now. Come April or May, the economy might change, but it’s not in the offering now.” Brandy Whitten, District 712 representative, asked about the rising cost of health care and whether those additional costs would fall on faculty and staff. Powers said he would ideally not want to raise health insurance costs for faculty and staff; however, there is no guarantee costs will not increase. The cost of health care is a high legislative priority that will be discussed with state officials. He also mentioned wellness initiatives already in place at the University such as preventative care, flu shots and exercise facilities. “$100 spent on wellness that saves $200 on premiums, from an economic standpoint, just makes a lot of sense,” he said. “Wellness is the long term solution to health and the cost of health.”

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Next item on the agenda was the status of domestic partner benefits. Karen Landolt from the Pride and Equity Faculty and Staff Association inquired about the University’s progress on the issue and its stance on the bill filed by Rep. Elliott Naishtat that would change laws already in place that impede the University. Landolt also asked about the possible creation of a task force similar to the Gender Equality Task Force. Powers said there is a lot of discussion surrounding the issue and a system-wide conference is planned to further discuss it. He also indicated that he would be talking to the Chancellor regarding the matter. The law currently prevents domestic partner benefits. “I’m committed to continue working with you on this issue,” he added. District 342 representative, Phillip Hebert, inquired about a program that would encourage hiring within the University before looking to hire from the outside. “I think that is a very impor-

tant program for the University to help in career advancement,” Powers said. “There is immense talent that exists at the University.” Powers explained that having career advancement and development programs are very important for employees. He said he is a firm believer in finding the right people for the right positions. “One of the things that very often works against you is when a position opens, say financial aid adviser, and the qualifications call for five years of financial aid experience,” he said. “There is an academic adviser who has all the skills and would make a terrific hire, but is not eligible. Very often, instead of setting criteria up on a talent, skills and competency basis, we set up experience in a narrow field.” Powers said he thinks that is an unrecognized and substantial impediment that limits career advancement. Competency, talent, energy and dedication are more important in Powers view. “Always, in line with that, look to the talent we have on campus as our best source of talent movContinued page 9

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our campus • february 2009 • page 3

LBJ Prof. Joins Obama Administration Jeanne Lambrew becomes deputy director of White House Office of Health Reform

By Jennifer Schmalz

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fter the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama, the country turns toward Washington, collectively holds its breath and awaits the promised changes. While the UT community is no exception in its anticipation of the transformation brought by the new administration, members of its own community will be part of the change. UT’s slogan, “What Happens Here Changes the World,� materializes in the form of Dr. Jeanne Lambrew. Lambrew, faculty member of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT, was named to the position of deputy director of the recently created White House Office of Health Reform. She was named to the position following the official nomination of former Senator Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services and his subsequent appointment as director of the newly created White House Office of Health Reform. President Obama set the direction and tone of this reform in his inauguration speech: “The time has come — this year, in this new administration — to modernize our health care system for the twenty-first century; to reduce costs for families and businesses; and to finally provide affordable, accessible health care for every American.� With his nomination, Daschle will be the nation’s leading voice on health care. The new White House office will coordinate efforts between the administration, Congress and the entire nation to pass health care reform. Daschle, former Senate Democratic leader, is renowned for both his expertise regarding health care and his bipartisanship. Lambrew and Daschle collaborated on a book last year, entitled “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health Care Crisis.� Lambrew earned her bachelor’s degree from Amherst College

and her master’s and doctorate from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the summer of 2007. she started as associate professor at the LBJ School. Prior to her time at UT, she was an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington School of Public Health and Health Services. She worked on health policy in the Clinton White House as the program associate director for health at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and served as senior health analyst for the National Economic Council. In these roles, she coordinated health policy development in various agencies. Additionally, she was the health care policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. In this role, Lambrew was the White House lead on implementing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the president’s welfare Medicare reform plan, and an initiative on long-term care. She also co-wrote “Reforming Medicare: Options, Tradeoffs, and Opportunities� with Henry J. Aaron. The 2009 presidential elections drew considerable attention to the issue of health care, particularly on the Democratic side, with Senator Hillary Clinton’s and President Obama’s competing health care platforms. Lambrew argued in an article in Politico that, “Reforming the health system is not a choice. The next president cannot achieve other priorities without it.� Furthermore, Lambrew said “providing all Americans with health coverage is a health, economic and moral imperative,� in an article published in “Forbes.� The burgeoning numbers of uninsured and the rising costs of healthcare have made reform an issue difficult to ignore. In 2007, Lambrew testified before the U.S. House of Representatives: “Nearly one in five of all Americans reports needing health care

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but not being able to access it due to cost. This largely results from lack of health insurance. About one in six Americans lacks health insurance at any point in time.� She also highlights that greater risk of being uninsured is correlated with particular population groups. Young adults, in particular, have the highest uninsured rate, largely because they experience significant work and family transitions. Daschle and Lambrew present a possible approach the new administration could take to health care. Both have emphasized the positive effect health care reform will have on the American economy. Daschle notes in a press release available on http://change. gov that health care reform “Will not only mean healthier and longer lives for millions, it will also make American companies more competitive and help pull our economy out of its current tailspin.� Underscoring the economic aspect of reform is a pragmatic approach that seeks to reach out

to a broad base including both Democrats and Republicans. Lambrew echoes this sentiment: “Health care costs are climbing, insurance coverage is falling, and the quality of care is hit or miss. These costs are straining employers, and they are fueling our long-run federal budget problems.� Rather than advocate the ideological arguments on either side of the aisle, Daschle and Lambrew take a utilitarian approach. Given the previous failures of health care reform and the current economic conditions, this strategy may prove to be a wise one. Lambrew has been a strong advocate of prevention and improved management of chronic disease. The mismanagement of preventable disease does not refer to the inability of medicine to cure the disease, but rather to the inability of patients to access the system. Thus, the failure to stop preventable disease is a failure of the present health care system, Continued page 4

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campus • may 2008

Jeanne Lambrew Continued from page 3

which promotes treatment rather than prevention. In a Washington Post article written with John Podesta, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton,

Lambrew pointed out that the “U.S. spends nearly seven times more on care for the dying than on maintaining health in the first place.” With increased use of preventive medicine and management, the costs of the current system would decrease dramatically. As she notes in Politico, “Re-orienting the system towards proven prevention and the management

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of chronic disease can save money as well as lives.” She further notes, “These health system tools are apolitical.” Lambrew has also emphasized that in contrast to recent trends, such as Massachusetts’ statewide universal health care program, effective health care must be national in scope. She also stresses that, “People would have the choice of programs

THIS MONTH

By Samantha Breslow The Employee Discount Program is a Human Resource Services initiative that offers discounts on a wide variety of products and services to University of Texas at Austin faculty and staff. The Knitting Nest, a haven for both veteran and beginner knitters, participates in the Employee Discount Program by extending a 10 percent discount to UT-Austin faculty, staff and students. The unique escape is no secret, given that it was voted “Best New Local Business” of 2008 in the Austin Chronicle’s Readers’ Poll. Located in South Austin at 160 W. Slaughter Lane, Suite 200, the Knitting Nest has the largest collection of Cascade Yarn in the Southwest. Since Stacy Klaus opened the Knitting Nest in September 2007, it has seen a wide range of eager students. Groups range from elementary knitting clubs that help children with their math skills, manual dexterity and classroom behavior, to groups of mothers seeking a place to escape with friends. “The knitting culture has really caught on in the last ten years, since it has seen a resurgence in popularity especially amongst a younger audience,” Klaus said. No longer an activity for grandmothers, knitting has become a hobby of teenagers, mothers and students. High schools are enjoying a wave of knitting clubs, and professors are using the activity as a means of relaxation. While knitting has previously been considered an individual activity, groups who knit together, at their own individual paces, are becoming more prevalent. “A group of nurses from St. David’s comes in every

Photo Lauren Gerson

in employer coverage or joining a private or public plan – letting them, rather than politicians, decide which types of coverage are best.” The emphasis on choice arises from Lambrew’s pragmatic approach to reform that she contends will bring about a health care system that is attainable for everyone.

The Knitting Nest week, and a group of UT graduates and four or five UT employees comes in every Saturday morning,” Klaus added. Because the Knitting Nest offers classes and private lessons every day of the week, inexperienced knitters should not be intimidated. Taught by Staci Perry, the Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) Certified Master Knitter with more than 30 years of knitting experience, two-hour classes range from $30-$45 and the private lessons are $35 per hour. Students make a tangible, finished product to keep during one class. The Knitting Nest is especially proud to host a reception for the founders of Ravelry.com, a Web site for knitters and crocheters from all over the world. “People are coming from all over Texas to thank them for inventing such a wonderful site,” Klaus said. The meet and greet with the founders of Ravelry. com will include a silent auction that will donate all proceeds to Doctors Without Borders. The event will take place on Feb. 14. Interested knitters can visit http://theknittingnestaustin.com for more information. The Knitting Nest is only one of the businesses that offers great discounts through the Employee Discount Program. Food and restaurants, health and beauty and home and garden are some of the categories that offer the largest selection of discounts. With more than 200 businesses already participating and new ones added frequently, be sure to browse the entire list of discounts regularly at www.utexas.edu/hr/ edp for substantial savings.

Giving back to those who give so much to our community. Ryland Homes is offering a special incentive, in addition to current promotions, to all University of Texas employees! Employees will receive up to $10,000 in options or up to $5,000 in closing costs.* This is just our way of saying thank you for all you do! For complete details on the Program, please contact Anna Hernandez, Community Partner Program Manager, at 512-343-3217 or AHernand@Ryland.com *Amount is determined by the base price of the home and equates to 2% in options OR 1 % in closing costs. In addition, a $1,000 donation will be made to the University of Texas general fund when each employee sale closes. Restrictions Apply: To qualify, must be a University of Texas employee. Program applies to only new sales and program must be disclosed at the time of contract. Program cannot be combined with other sources of sale (i.e., AMLI Nest Egg Program, realtor co-op, another business partner CPP program, etc.). May be used in addition to current Ryland Austin promotion. The CPP donation is made when the sale closes and funds. See Sales Counselor for more details.


our campus • february 2009 • page 5

‘Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You’ UT psychology professor Sam Gosling publishes book that attracts national attention By Drew Thomas

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ost psychologists toil in anonymity, their research relegated to the pages of obscure scientific journals, or perhaps distilled into a book with limited popular appeal. However, a psychologist can unearth an area of study so universal, so compelling that even the most mainstream readers take notice. Sigmund Freud first popularized psychology through a series of fascinating books including the seminal “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Today, TV shrinks such as Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Dr. Phil McGraw capture the public imagination with their own brand of pop psychology. Their success hinges on the ability to make psychology both accessible and applicable in everyday situations. UT’s own Dr. Sam Gosling is not a pop psychologist, but his new book “Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You” has gained national attention for its seductive premise. As the title implies, Gosling contends that a great deal of personal information can be gleaned from evaluating an individual’s living space, otherwise known as snooping. Gosling even coined the term “snoopology,” referring to the practice of identifying personality traits based on the contents of one’s room. His research is based on hundreds of case studies focusing on diverse spaces such as bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, office cubicles and even medicine cabinets, which Gosling refers to as “quintessential snooping sites.” Gosling’s theory may sound familiar because it appears to echo the methods popularized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his Sherlock Holmes mysteries. In Doyle’s first Holmes novel, “A Study in Scarlet” (1887), Watson recounts part of a treatise written by the super sleuth: “From a drop of water, a logician could infer the possibility of

an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other … Let him, on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to distinguish the history of the man, and the trade or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for.” Where to look and what to look for are the foci of Gosling’s research. His book is the product of more than a decade of careful observation. “I was doing this research as a grad student,” Gosling says. “It never started as, ‘I’ll do a book.’ I started in the late 90s and was able to do most of the writing during a sabbatical in 2003-2005 when I was at the Center for Advanced Studies and Behavioral Studies at Stanford.” In “Snoop,” Gosling reveals an astonishing number of correlations between personality and property, although he warns against drawing conclusions based on individual items. Everything must be interpreted in context. For example, a sports trophy found in a subject’s apartment may suggest that the owner is an athlete. But without the accompaniment of photographs, jerseys or cleats, the trophy may simply be a decorative object, or displayed by the owner for the sake of irony (in fact, the very un-athletic writer of this article keeps one such trophy on his bookcase). “You simply cannot interpret objects on their own,” Gosling said. “Let’s say you have a blue plastic squid in your room. What does it mean? I don’t know, because there’s any number of reasons why someone might keep something like that. So we look, and we also find a plastic model of the Virgin Mary which, in combination with a Bible, could indicate a devout person, but next to these, we also find a plastic pineapple, and an Elvis figurine.”

Gosling explained that, individually, these objects may implicate the owner as a Catholic or an Elvis fan. But the random grouping of items is more indicative of an owner with a flair for kitsch. Furthermore, experienced snoopers should also allow for the possibility that certain objects may not even belong to the occupant. In his book, Gosling illustrates how touchy this aspect of snooping can be. “We found a plastic case of drugs in an otherwise conventional apartment,” Gosling said. “When I asked the occupant how it got there, she explained that a friend had left it with her while on vacation.” Law enforcement would probably not be as open to this possibility as Gosling and his team. Gosling was, however, contacted by a criminal profiler who was interested in the similarities between his work and that of CSI detectives. Others have linked Gosling’s methods to the “Belongings Test,” which was developed during World War II by the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA. The test was intended to deduce a subject’s personality based on items found in their bedroom. When asked if his own research is based on the Belongings Test, Gosling said, “Not particularly. It was based on the hunch that people do this all the time. A lot of it is like what the FBI, CIA and CSI developed. It explores how behavior is reflected in the places we live.” As Gosling snooped through each of his subject’s rooms, he would base his conclusions on three principles: identity claims, feeling regulators and behavioral residue. Identity claims include “posters, awards, photos, trinkets, and other mementos,” as well as Facebook and Myspace sites and tattoos. When assessing identity claims, a snooper must ask: For whose benefit are the identity claims displayed? Are the photoContinued page 9

Photo Paul Chouy

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page 6 • our

campus • february 2009

James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State Continued from page 1

of policy and global affairs made him, as Powers put it, “absolutely the right dean at the right time at LBJ.” According to Powers, the school’s tradition boasted a

Photo courtesy LBJ School

strong foundation in public policy at the local, state and national levels, but the world had changed dramatically in the decades since the school’s mission had been determined. The

school needed to globalize without losing its original focus on policy and public service. At the time Steinberg joined the school, Admiral Bob Inman was serving as interim dean. “I started a lot of initiatives, so my view of Jim Steinberg is somewhat biased in that he arrived and picked up all those initiatives and moved them all forward, some of them much faster than I thought would be achievable,” Inman said. “Overall, it’s been three years of innovation.” Among those initiatives that Steinberg pushed through was the formation of a new master’s program in Global Policy Studies. He picked up where Inman had left off, getting the program approved and the first class selected. He also helped establish the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, a joint venture between UT’s LBJ and law schools. More importantly, Steinberg has done all this in a spirit of cooperation. “He’s established very good working relationships within the school as well as across the

campus and with the administration,” Inman said. Just before Obama formally announced his appointment of Steinberg, the dean wrote an open letter to the faculty and LBJ students. “The past three years as dean of the LBJ School have been among the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Steinberg wrote. “I am grateful for the support and encouragement that my family and I have received from every element of our community – students, staff, faculty, alumni, the LBJ Foundation, colleagues at UT and friends of the school. The LBJ School is poised to remain one of the most influential schools of public affairs for years to come.” Colleagues and associates have said that Steinberg’s skills and experience make him an excellent choice for State. “First of all, he’s intellectually gifted and he speaks very well about his areas of expertise,” said Howard Prince, a professor at the LBJ School. “He’s one of America’s experts in national

security issues that face America today and many other countries around the world.” Steinberg will also complement Hillary Clinton’s skill set well, said Ken Flippin, founder of Texans for Obama. “He’s the perfect balance because she has all the political savvy and connections while he has the academic and knowledge base,” Flippin said. “Things are changing, things are different, things are dynamic, and if anybody gets that, it’s James Steinberg. He gets that it’s political and policy at the same time.” Evidence of his understanding is the advice he offers to presidential transition teams in his book “Difficult Transitions: Foreign Policy Troubles at the Outset of Presidential Power.” Published last fall, the book outlines many of the challenges Steinberg himself will now confront in an increasingly complex world. Inman said some of the biggest challenges the State Department will face are “crises that you can neither predict nor control but

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our campus • february 2009 • page 7 you have to handle.â€? He listed situations like the recent conflict in Gaza, cooling relations with Russia, nuclear proliferation in Iran and North Korea, pirates off the Somali coast and the international narcotics trade as just a handful of the issues the new administration will have to juggle. “As you look at the kinds of new challenges that come up, diplomacy is your first approach and if diplomacy doesn’t work, then you turn to use of force. But in all of these crises, the first place you look is diplomacy, and he’ll be in the center of it, defining what to do and executing it,â€? Inman said. This ability to formulate and execute policy, along with his calm demeanor, sharp intelligence and ability to see the big picture, are among Steinberg’s best traits, said both Inman and Temple. “He’s got a personality and a demeanor that permits him to acclimate to the setting he gets in,â€? Temple said. “The country is really, really fortunate to have

him, just as we are disappointed that he’s not here.� Temple said Steinberg’s ability to look ahead makes him an asset to the U.S. “There are a small number of people who can look ahead and see over the horizon and have a vision or a perspective of what we need to do to prepare for the future,� Temple said, adding that Steinberg used this trait to his advantage in raising the prestige of the LBJ School. “He’s done a marvelous job in putting the LBJ School on a path to great national reputation.� Steinberg’s open letter expressed both an eagerness to serve the country again and a desire to return to the LBJ School following his stint at State. “If confirmed, it will be a great privilege to serve with President Obama, Secretary of State-designate Clinton and the entire national security team at this time of great challenge but also of great opportunity for the United States and the world,� Steinberg wrote. “It is my hope and plan to return to the LBJ School follow-

Photo Tara Haelle

ing my time in Washington to continue to work with you all in this exciting endeavor.� Powers said the process to find a new dean is progressing, but he could not provide details. Though he is sorry to see Steinberg go, he recognizes the

additional prestige that Steinberg’s appointment brings to the school. “It is a feather in his cap, a feather in the LBJ school’s cap and a feather in our University’s cap that when the Presidentelect is looking for high level

talent to come in and take a position like this in the government, they would look to people on our campus and especially at the LBJ school,� Powers said. “It is a reflection of the kind of talent we have here and in the LBJ School.�

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campus • may 2008

Alan Constant Receives Local, National Awards Director of UT Learning Center improves learning skills of more than 13,000 students every year By Robin Schwartz

A

lan Constant understands the intricacies of student learning. He is the director of the UT Learning Center where more than 13,000 students improve their learning skills every year. “It’s beyond a career, it’s beyond a relationship,” Constant said. “I would summarize it as a great love for the students of this University.” Even Constant’s towering 6 feet 4 inches do not overshadow his passion for the job. He believes the center should always adapt to the campus atmosphere. Consequently, he spends as much time as possible visiting with staff and students to measure the UT community’s pulse. Though Constant’s position is currently in

perfect alignment with his career aspirations, he was not always inclined to work for a university. A native New Yorker, Constant enrolled at the State University of New York in 1974. Unsure of what he wanted to do, he was more preoccupied with getting a good grade than a good education. He lost interest, dropped out after just two years, and entered the hotel industry. In 1981, the restaurant business brought Constant to Texas. Five years later, his 4-year-old daughter Lauren, prompted by a discussion in her pre-kindergarten class, asked him where he had gone to college. His reaction to her question was to register for classes at Austin Community College. Constant was later accepted at UT where he received a bachelor’s degree in history in 1990 and a

master’s degree in American history in 1994. His daughter has since followed in his footsteps. In 2004, she graduated from UT with a degree in psychology and now works for UT’s project management and construction services. A sign hanging on a bulletin board in the history department introduced Constant to student services. It advertised a teaching position for the Learning Center’s supplemental instruction program. Constant applied for the position because he loved teaching. Hired as a supplemental instruction leader in 1994, he taught discussion sections on history, reading, study skills and GRE preparation. “I started seeing the value in the work of student affairs. I took myself off the academic path and put myself into a student services path,” he said. Constant has worn many hats while at the center. He functioned

as the supplemental instruction coordinator from 1995 to 1998 and the tutorial assistance director from 1998 to 2001. He was chosen from a national search to act as the center’s director in 2000. Constant depends on the support of his family to perform his job. He recalls that his wife of 30 years, Kathleen, backed him emotionally and financially when he decided to quit the restaurant business to pursue a degree. Constant can usually be found in his office at the Learning Center, which is housed in the Beauford H. Jester building on the busy corner of Speedway and 21st, across the street from the Perry-Casteñeda Library. With the help of Assistant Director Ed Fernandez, Constant researched the 55-year history of the center. They discovered, in anonymous records of a UT psychologist from the counseling center, that the University created

the learning center to address the low reading scores of World War II veterans. Now, all types of students use the center daily, whether for reading, studying skills, time management, math, chemistry, physics or biology. Over the years the center’s services have increased, but Constant maintains that the mission remains unchanged: “[Students] are why we exist.” To reach students as early as possible, the center participates in freshmen orientation. Last year, the center gave 130 presentations to incoming undergraduates. The two most popular were: transition from high school to college and time management skills. The center strives to “offer a personal connection to students” who sometimes feel lost on the large UT campus, Constant said. Peer Academic Coaching, a program that pairs students with student mentors in a semesterlong mentoring relationship, is Continued page 10

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Sam Gosling, ‘Snoop’ Continued from page 5

graphs positioned to appeal to the visitor or the occupant? In other words, a family photo turned to ward the owner’s desk chair may provide that person with a private affirmation of love and bonding. The same photo turned outward, away from the desk, suggests the owner’s desire to be perceived as a caring, family-oriented person. “A lot of it has to do with self concept,� said Gosling. “What kinds of photos do you keep of yourself? Photos directed toward me are for my benefit, not the owner’s. Photos turned outward are an identity claim.� This projection of personality is best evidenced in online networking sites such as Myspace, where users frequently display only their most fun, flattering moments for the world to see. Gosling also explained that women tend to value pictures of family and friends whereas males generally keep photographs as records of their travels or accomplishments. Gosling’s second principle is comprised of “feeling regulators,� which include music, wall color and other amenities acquired by the occupant to create an agreeable living environment. The third principle, called “behavioral residue,� is the

Staff Council Continued from page 2

ing ahead,� he said. “Talent ought to be by far the highest priority, to the extent that it comes from inside the University, all the better.� Since the University strives to be fair and equitable, Powers cited “talent: fire in the belly, honesty and dedication,� as the main driving force behind hiring someone

evidence, or lack thereof, of everyday actions. Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and office cubicles are often the sites of repeated behavior, making them hotspots for behavioral residue. And perhaps the most telling residue of all is a person’s garbage, which Gosling describes as “the window to the soul.� “When you think about personality as just a regular pattern of behavior across time, you can learn to look for these patterns,� said Gosling. “What does this person have? A desk calendar. What state is the calendar in? Is it up to date or is it seven days past? You might say that this person has a desire to be organized, but doesn’t always succeed. The state of the object tells how they used it.� But the objects found in someone’s apartment do not always tell the whole story. And the implications of some behavioral residue are counterintuitive to what one might expect. “One of the things that was interesting to us is that [people] make judgments about conscientiousness based on whether someone’s apartment is clean and in order,� Gosling said. “But they go further, saying that these people probably aren’t nice. Another frustration is that people see this research, shrug their shoulders, and say, ‘that’s obvious.’ But it’s not so obvious.�

After all, playing the psychologist is a role with which everyone is familiar. We have all found ourselves, at one time or another, in the position of counselor, interpreter, soothsayer or patient listener. One could even argue that psychology is the most widely practiced occupation and the least understood. Gosling’s methods provide his readers with a solid psychological foundation as well as everyday situations for amateurs to practice the art of snooping. When asked in which circumstances he would encourage snooping, Gosling said, “We all do it all the time. For tens of thousands if not millions of years, we have demonstrated a great interest in finding out about others. There are great benefits as well as great pitfalls that come with this research. It sheds light on consciousness.� “Snoop� is Gosling’s first book, though he had already received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution. He received his doctorate from UC Berkeley and has been teaching at The University of Texas since 1999. In addition to snooping, Gosling also specializes in animal personality. To learn more about “Snoop� and the work of Dr. Sam Gosling, visit http://snoopology.com.

for a position. However, Powers said new practices or ways of doing things might be learned from bringing talent in from other universities or the private sector. “The problem is not to go too far to the side of saying that anyone at the University with minimum competency must be taken rather than someone with more talent from outside,� he said. “There’s a balance.�

“We are very fortunate in the state of Texas,� Powers said. “This is better news than what you have seen across the country.� Staff Council meetings are typically held the third Thursday of every month from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. All staff members are invited to participate. Meetings can also be viewed via webcast on the UT Staff Council Web site at http:// utexas.edu/staff/council. Photo Paul Chouy

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campus • february 2009

Alan Constant, Director of UT Learning Center Continued from page 8

Photo Lauren Gerson

one such alliance. “There is nothing like one person taking personal and professional interest in you and watching you develop,” Constant said. In his capacity as director, Constant oversees the interface between the center and other campus agencies and departments. He works with faculty to develop curriculum for instructional courses. While faculty members focus on teaching students course content, students struggling with

reading and comprehension are referred to the center. Constant is also responsible for the center’s administration and program development. He and his staff generate new programs in response to student needs by looking at institutional statistics on student performance, course grades and frequently repeated courses. To facilitate student learning, the center’s staff uses techniques grounded in educational theory. Staff members also

incorporate the same strategies in their own daily lives. Constant further advances the center’s objectives with his involvement in local and national conferences. He chairs and co-chairs committees, and directs and presents programs. Preview Read Recall is a teaching technique used by the center that Constant explained with an account of his morning the day of the interview. When he arrived at work, Constant skimmed 40 pages of proposals in 15 minutes. The brief overview provided him with a sense of the material and better prepared him to read and learn it. Without this preparation, his ability to absorb the information would lessen. Later in the day, when he has time to read the proposals, he will do a thorough reading of the material and jot down notes. The notes will enable him to practice the last part of the technique, recall. Constant said Preview Read Recall is “very valuable and ultimately saves me a lot of time.” On a typical day at the center, students fill the office and overflow into the hallway where mentors meet with students at makeshift desks. Constant has been working with the Division of Student Affairs to expand the center to ac-

commodate the needs of current and future students. In addition to architectural changes, the proposed renovations would underwrite the expansion of the peermentoring program, help more students with serious reading problems and increase information literacy services. In the distant future, the center might also incorporate programs for communication skills and electronic media comprehension. A recent $1 million donation will help with some of the cost of the proposed facilities. The donor’s name has not yet been made public. Constant also supervises the center’s personnel, whom he believes are the best in the country. The national community shares his high opinion. From the more than 800 centers nationwide, the center at UT was awarded the Frank L. Christ Outstanding Learning Center Award by the National College Learning Center Association in 2007. Constant’s worth to the center is undeniable. He was one of two supervisors to win the UT Outstanding Supervisor Award. The award recognizes the contributions of non-teaching employees who have made a lasting impact on the UT community. When he first received the let-

ter from President Powers announcing his award, Constant wondered what he had done wrong. “I was just grateful for the recognition and very surprised,” he said. Winning the award for the Learning Center was more important to him than his personal award. Constant credits the people around him for making such accomplishments possible. Constant honed his considerable skills with help from his mentor, Dr. David Drum, formerly the associate vice president of Student Affairs for whom the tutoring center was named. “I try to emulate him in listening, thinking, then expressing,” Constant said. When away from UT, scuba diving and traveling the world are some of his hobbies. “The two go hand in hand,” he explained. “I would dive in Lake Travis, but there is nothing to see.” According to Constant, there is something that happens under the surface of the water when he is focused and his breathing is controlled: Everything is right. “It feels as if wellness comes naturally,” he said. Similarly, Constant helps students clear their minds and focus so that learning comes naturally.

Interview with Gilligan, Dean of McCombs School of Business By Gloria Cisneros Lenoir

T

om Gilligan is a high-energy person who refuses to think negatively in spite of trying economic times. He finds opportunities in the current financial landscape and stresses the creative possibilities and tools that the McCombs School of

Business at The University of Texas provides for students to help them achieve abundant success in their careers. Gilligan spent 20 years at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California where he served as dean, chair of business administration, and chair and professor of finance and business economics.

He has also taught at Northwestern University, Stanford University and California Institute of Technology. He served in the Air Force from 1972 to 1976 and as staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House from 1982 to 1983. In September 2008, Gilligan became the tenth dean of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas. Continued page 11

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our campus • february 2009 • page 11

Gilligan Interview December 8, 2008

OC: What is your mission in life? TG: I don’t think it is a mission, but I get a kick out of using my talents helping other people. Being in the education business is a great place to make that mission come true. OC: How can you make something good out of what is happening with the financial industry in your position at UT? TG: Well I think that one, you put some perspective on it. We spend a fair amount of time reminding our students that this is not the first economic downturn that has ever occurred. It probably won’t be the worst that has ever occurred and that many fortunes and business successes are made out of the depths of a recessionary or depressionary period, that for creative people and optimistic people, and people who focus on new ways to satisfy human needs, there are plenty of opportunities in the current environment for smart and well-trained, energetic people. OC: What are you doing to help your students maintain resilience? TG: I think that you want to repeat the message that all is not lost, that stressful times breed opportunity. If you have a fair amount of hope, you can persevere and be successful. And this isn’t Pollyanna. Just looking at history, we have had some very bad things happen in our lifetimes and before our lives and for the people who hung in there and stuck with it, and who dealt with the hardships, with the right attitudes, they can become successful. OC: What are you doing to focus on industries where there are opportunities? TG: Well, I think there are great opportunities in every industry. I mean, in some respects, it looks like there are many opportunities foreclosed in the financial services industries. Investment banks have gone away. The large firms that were still around that used to be investment banks are no longer investment banks. However, the world of financial services is going to continue to evolve and change

dramatically over the next few years. I think there are tremendous opportunities in that industry for people, firms and business leaders who try to address the fundamental problems that have plagued the industry today. I think there continue to be many opportunities in other industries: retailing, manufacturing, technology industries. I think the opportunities in the health services area are just really unbounded. We’re trying as a society to solve the problem of wide-spread affordable health care. Those solutions will involve creative commercial ideas and solutions in many ways. Science and technology continue to advance, in the areas of nano-sciences, green tech and biotech. Those are all emerging technologies and those, with the help of commercialization activities and clever business applications, will make tremendously beneficial and positive contributions to human well-being. I really think there are hard times and we need to take stock of those and particularly help people who are deeply affected by them. It would be a dramatic mistake to take our ball off of the real opportunities that exist for us as a society. OC: What specifically are you doing for business students to help them find opportunities? TG: The most direct way we’re trying to help students is by modifying and enhancing our career resource activities to take account of the modern realities. For example, our counselors who help our students find jobs are trying to bring firms to campus from other industries that are likely to continue hiring new students. They’re trying to help our students modify their preparation to be successful in interviews with these new firms. So we’re just trying to be nimble and flexible and, of course, for the students to be flexible as well in assessing their choices of how to start their careers. We’re also both in the classroom and outside of the classroom talking to our students frequently about what the current environment means, what caused it, how

it is likely to emerge from the current crisis, and what the world is likely to look like down the road. OC: What international opportunities are you offering your students? TG: We continue to grow the opportunities for our students to travel abroad, both on short term business trips, semester abroad study programs, and longer run joint programs with foreign universities. We’re also in every class that we offer, incorporating more and more how the global economy impacts the way that firms do business or the way that students plan their careers in a globalized economy. OC: What are your thoughts on China? TG: My random thoughts on China are that I think it is great that the emerging economies of

the world are growing and they’re beginning to offer more opportunities to increase the human wellbeing of people in their countries. For the United States, they’re great trading partners. They’re great sources of intellect and new ideas, and productive human resources. They’re great sources of cultural interaction for the United States. For a university like The University of Texas, the rest of the world offers us some of the best students they have to come here and be trained at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. So those countries are already contributing to the augmentation of human capital or intellectual activities here at UT. The growth of the rest of the world and the development of the emerging

A University of Texas - Austin American Tradition since 1982. (Your parents may have met here.)

economies is good news for the world. It does pose challenges in managing resource consumption. It does put even more pressure on us to think about how best to conserve and think sensibly about resource sustainability, but overall, the economic development of the rest of the world is great. OC: Do you have any other good news? TG: We had a graduation speaker, Dell Williams, who reminded us all that we should never confuse our net worth with our self worth. I think in these hard times when all of us are poorer than we used to be, we need to recognize that it should remind us that we contribute value to humans in all sorts of ways and we should just take stock of the true wealth that we could create for other people.

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