|Volume 7, Issue 39 · Friday, October 9, 2009|
Additional education funding to be made available
Recovery Act grant funds will reward innovation, improvement
Another source of Recovery Act funding for public education opened up this week when $650 million in competitive grant funding was announced for the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3). While school districts in Texas and throughout the country were awarded substantial funding previously from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), most of those funds were earmarked for high-poverty schools and for the educational requirements of special needs students, including facilities, programs and technology.
The Investing in Innovation Fund competitive grant process will be open to school districts and nonprofits. Grants will be awarded to entities with programs (new or continuing) that improve achievement in grades K-12, help decrease the number of school dropouts, increase high school graduation rates or improve teacher and administrator effectiveness. Applicants may apply individually or as part of a consortium.
Debbie Graves Ratcliffe, spokesperson for the Texas Education Agency, said the agency is not yet aware of any Texas school districts that have said they will apply for the funding, but added that could change since the information on the funding was only made available early this week.[more]
Comptroller announces promotions on legal team
Harden named general counsel; Cherry, Robinson in new posts
Ashley Harden (left) has been promoted to general counsel for the State Comptroller's Office in a number of promotions for Comptroller Susan Combs' legal team. Harden was previously chief deputy general counsel. He and Combs have worked together for a number of years, having served as Combs' general counsel when she was Texas Agriculture Commissioner.
Harden replaces former General Counsel Martin Cherry (center), who has been advanced to senior counsel, where he will focus on tax issues. Cherry has been with the agency for more than 30 years. Combs called his institutional knowledge "irreplaceable" and his knowledge about taxation "invaluable."
Combs also announced that Robin Robinson (right) has been promoted to deputy general counsel after serving as the Assistant Deputy General Counsel for Tax Hearings since 2007.
In addition to working for the Comptroller's Office and the Texas Department of Agriculture, Harden also has worked for the Office of the Attorney General. He holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law.
Cherry joined the Comptroller's office in 1973 as a hearing attorney and has also served in a variety of other positions, including staff attorney for the Tax Administration Division, Special Counsel for Tax and Legislative Issues and manager of the General Law Section. He has coordinated research and drafted legislation on both fiscal and taxation issues. Cherry holds a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University and earned his law degree from Baylor University School of Law.
Robinson holds a bachelor's degree from Tulane University and is a cum laude graduate of the South Texas College of Law. She also earner her master's degree from the University of Houston Clear Lake. She began in the Comptroller's Office in September 1999 in the Administrative Hearings Section.
Jay Kimbrough, special advisor to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents
Career highlights and education: My public service career began when I left high school mid-term in my senior year to join the United States Marine Corps. My combat tour in Vietnam in 1966-67 is the high point of my career in public service. The people I served with, and their commitment to duty, honor, country and sacrifice has served as the cornerstone of my life. Additionally, I have been privileged through the years to serve in several roles in local and state government, including county attorney and county judge in Bee County. My state agency service includes, among others, executive director of the Criminal Justice Division in the Office of the Governor, Texas's first Homeland Security Director after 9-11, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice for Attorney General Greg Abbott, general counsel and deputy chancellor for the Texas A&M University System, the first conservator of the Texas Youth Commission and chief of staff for Gov. Rick Perry during this last regular legislative session. Currently I serve as special advisor to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. I received all of my post-high school education by virtue of the G.I. Bill after Vietnam, graduating from Mountain View Community College in Dallas, Southern Methodist University and South Texas College of Law.
What I like best about my job is: The opportunity to help create opportunities for students, our future leaders and entrepreneurs in America.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: Communication, transparency and teamwork are vital. We can't always agree 100 percent on everything - that's impossible - but we can hear each other's ideas and thoughts, then choose a course and work together as a team to get there.
Advice I would give a new hire in my office: Say what you mean and mean what you say. And, keep what we do in perspective. Some days may seem very hard and distracting in your office. But none of that compares to the service and sacrifice of the men and women in our armed services who put their lives and well being on the line every day so that we can live the American dream. We owe them our best effort every day, because of what they are doing for America every day.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Riding my Harley motorcycle on back country roads.
People would be surprised to know that I: listen to lots of rock and roll and country rock music, and I especially enjoy the YouTube versions of so many of them, and I ride motorcycles about 25,000 miles a year.
One thing I wish more people knew about my agency/office: The Texas A&M University System has 11 tremendous universities, a health science center, and seven key state agencies that make differences in the lives of Texans and the rest of America every day. Somewhere in the System every day, we are fighting fires, training police officers, working and training in homeland security, enhancing transportation safety and engineering, providing critical scientific research and local agricultural programs for youth. The work never stops. The impact of this System we work in is an incredible thing to watch...and now be a part of. The A&M System educates more than 109,000 students and reaches another 15 million people through service each year. With nearly 27,000 faculty and staff, the A&M System has a physical presence in 250 of the state's 254 counties and a programmatic presence in every Texas county. In 2008, externally funded research brought in almost $676 million to help drive the state's economy. This System is very unique in Texas...and America.
Each week, the Texas Government Insider profiles a key government executive or decision-maker. If you would like to suggest a "Lone Star," please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guzman appointed to Texas Supreme Court
Justice Eva M. Guzman (pictured), justice of the 14th Court of Appeals, has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas, replacing Justice Scott Brister who recently resigned. Guzman's term will expire at the next general election.
In making the appointment, Gov. Rick Perry said Guzman has a "proven record of sound jurisprudence," calling her a "principled, conservative judge." Guzman has been a member of the state's judiciary for more than 10 years, and began her judiciary service after being appointed and then elected to the Harris County Family Court. She was later appointed and then elected to serve on the 14th Court of Appeals.
Guzman is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a member of the Supreme Court of Texas Advisory Committee. She is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum Class XXII and a fellow of the Texas and Houston Bar foundations. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston and a law degree from South Texas College of Law.
Olson takes on role of special counsel at HHSC
Jessica Olson (pictured) has been named Special Counsel to the Executive Commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). In that role, she will advise Executive Commissioner Tom Suehs on priority policy development and strategic direction for the Texas health and human services agencies. Prior to joining HHSC, Olson served as deputy director of Gov. Rick Perry's Budget, Planning and Policy Office, and also advised the governor on budget and policy issues related to HHSC and the Department of State Health Services.
Prior to joining the Office of the Governor, Olson was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She earned her undergraduate degree from Trinity University in San Antonio and her law degree from Baylor Law School. Olson also received a graduate certificate in health policy from The George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Also at HHSC, Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of External Relations Stephanie Muth has been named Associate Commissioner for Consumer and External Affairs. This division will include the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of Community Collaboration, the Federal Liaison and the Government Relations Division.
Thaler, Welebob take on key posts at TDCJ
Two veterans in the Texas criminal justice system have taken on key positions at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Rick Thaler (left), former director of the Manufacturing and Logistics Division at TDCJ for the last three years, has been named director of the agency's Correctional Institutions Division (CID). He replaces Nathaniel Quarterman, who retired after 25 years. Carey Welebob (right), who boasts 20 years of criminal justice experience, has been promoted from deputy director of the Community Justice Assistance Division to director of that division.
Thaler began his nearly three-decade career with TDCJ in 1980 as a correctional officer at the Huntsville Unit and after serving at a number of units along the Texas Gulf Coast, was named assistant warden at the Pack Unit in Navasota in 1990. Two years later he was named senior warden at the Smith Unit in Lamesa and later served in the same capacity at the Ramsey Unit near Rosharon, the Telford Unit in New Boston and the Estelle Unit in Huntsville. He was eventually promoted to regional director for prison and jail management in CID Region One, overseeing operation of 13 units. He was named director of the Manufacturing and Logistics Division in 2006. Thaler holds a master's degree from Sam Houston State University.
Welebob began in the Parole Division of TDCJ and was a Super Intensive Supervision Program officer, trainer, curriculum developer, training administrator and substance abuse treatment program administrator. She was named the division deputy director five years ago. Welebob has worked on several legislative and statewide initiatives, including implementation of additional diversion funding for community supervision. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in public administration, specializing in criminal justice.
N. Texas technology companies benefit from ETF
Several North Texas area technology companies will share $9.95 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, with the awards aimed at further research to develop products that can improve quality of life and strengthen the state economy. Recipients include:
Palmer joins HHSC staff as e-Health coordinator
Stephen Palmer (pictured) has been named director of the Office of e-Health Coordination of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), effective Oct. 26.
Palmer currently serves in the Governor's Office as point person for health information technology (HIT) issues, an area in which he has worked at both the state and national level. He has served as project director for the Texas Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, chair of the Texas delegation to the Gulf Coast Health Information Technology Task Force and as an advisory member of the State Alliance for e-Health. Prior to joining the Governor's Office, Palmer was a Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program policy advisor to the deputy executive commissioner for Health Services at HHSC. He is also a former member of the policy staff of the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Palmer holds a bachelor's degree from Rice University and a Master's in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
Two members named to Ag Finance Authority Board
Two new members have been appointed by Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples to the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority Board to represent young farmer interests.
Will Coward is a fourth-generation rancher from Coryell County and a former director of the Coryell County Farm Bureau who has served on the Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee for the last two years. John Paul Dineen III grew up in Waxahachie and started a lawn care business in his pre-teen years. He converted that business into a custom farming business and now operates a 1,300-acre dry land row crop operation in Ellis County with a small cow and calf herd. He is a member of the Ellis County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
TFA is a public authority within the Texas Department of Agriculture that works in partnership with banks or other agricultural lending institutions to provide financial assistance to individuals and ag-related businesses through a number of programs. The board includes the Ag Commissioner, the director of the Institute for International Agribusiness Studies at Prairie View A&M University and nine appointed members.
Duncan resigns as Austin Energy general manager
After less than two years at the helm of Austin Energy, General Manager Roger Duncan (pictured) has announced his retirement, effective March 1 of next year. Duncan was named to head Austin Energy in February 2008, following the departure of Juan Garza. Austin City Manager Marc Ott said the city will conduct a nationwide search for a new general manager.
Duncan, a former two-term member of the Austin City Council, became a member of the city staff in 1989 as Assistant Director for Natural Resources in the Environmental and Conservation Services Department. He transferred in 1998 to Austin Energy, where he was named Vice President/Conservation, Renewables and Environmental Policy. In 2004, Duncan was named Deputy General Manager for Distributed Energy Services and then took over as general manager four years later.
Trans-Texas Corridor project ends unceremoniously
Amid little fanfare, the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor (TTC) died an unceremonious death this week when the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recommended a "no action alternative" to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regarding the proposed project. In a letter to FHA Division Administrator Janice Brown, TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz cited "a degree of dissatisfaction with the TTC idea" from both citizens and elected officials as reason for TxDOT to "bring closure" to the final environmental impact statement process. By accepting the no action recommendation, the project effectively is dead.
"Citizens all along the I-35 corridor did their civic duty by participating in public meetings and hearings, and by voicing their concerns," said Saenz. "Now it's our duty to respond to those concerns - by recommending the No Action Alternative for TTC-35." Once the environmental process on the project is concluded, the FHWA will issue a Record of Decision which will officially conclude the environmental process for the TTC-35. That will eliminate the corridor study area and cancel the planning comprehensive development agreement for TTC-35. This will have no effect on current construction of SH 130 segments five and six between Austin and Seguin and does not impact efforts to develop I-69 by focusing on improving existing infrastructure, according to TxDOT officials.
"Congestion on I-35 is a serious transportation problem that must be addressed," said Ted Houghton, Texas Transportation Commissioner. "Our future efforts to identify potential solutions will be led by citizens, ensure that each community's concerns are heard, and result in efforts to improve I-35 and other transportation assets that enhance safety and economic opportunity."
EPA hands over $138,000 to Railroad Commission
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $138,975 to the Railroad Commission of Texas. The funds will be used by the Commission to perform mechanical integrity tests on Class III injection wells, and provide technical, drilling, completion and reporting assistance to injection well operators in the state.
Libraries' Internet access topic of recent summit
How to improve and sustain high-quality Internet access in Texas public libraries was the topic of the recent Texas Opportunity Online Broadband Summit, sponsored by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Nearly 200 public library leaders, community supporters, broadband providers and local and state leaders were in attendance to discuss the value of community partnerships, connectivity solutions and how to improve connectivity speed in public libraries.
This was the first of two summits sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Texas and six other states are participating in its pilot Opportunity Online broadband grant program. It calls for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to develop a broadband sustainability strategy as the foundation for public libraries to continue to improve and maintain adequate Internet connectivity for library users.
The summit included an analysis of Texas' current broadband climate and the future of technology access in Texas public libraries. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is currently working with an advisory group including Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, former Gov. Mark White and Commission Chair Sandra J. Pickett to develop a strategy to increase and sustain broadband connections in all Texas public libraries.
HHSC to hire 250 additional food stamp workers
Texas state officials recently agreed to hire 250 employees to clear a back log of food stamp applications after federal officials threatened to cut off funding due to the state failure to meet federal guidelines for processing those applications.
Health and Human Services Commission officials requested funding for about 650 new food stamp enrollment workers and Legislative Budget Board (LBB) members plan to evaluate whether another 399 more workers are needed after the first group of 250 employees are hired.
The LBB approved the additional 250 new food stamp processing employees after advocates for low-income families filed a suit claiming that some families wait for months for food stamps because more than one-third of food stamp applications remained unprocessed, after the one-month processing time required by federal law. An official of the U.S. Department of Agriculture also told state officials that the state must speed up its application process or federal funding is at risk.
UNT names associate vice president for administration
Rodney P. McClendon (pictured) has been named senior associate vice president for administration at the University of North Texas. His new charge begins Nov. 9.
McClendon serves as acting vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston, where he also serves as executive associate vice president and chief operating officer. Previously he worked as chief of staff to then-President Robert Gates at Texas A&M University, where he also served three years as assistant provost.
McClendon holds bachelor's degrees from Texas A&M and Morehouse College and a doctoral degree from the Emory University School of Law.
Texas school districts earn COPS grant awards
More than $2.1 million in U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (OPS) grants were recently awarded to Texas school districts through the COPS Secure Our Schools program.
Receiving the awards were:
The City of Longview received a COPS Child Sexual Predator Grant for $469,342. Additionally, in August, the DOG awarded three COPS Tribal Resources Grants to tribal entities in the state for a total of $427,492. The Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas received two grants of $112,123 and $192,300, while the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo earned $123,069.
Texas A&M wins $3.6M federal grant to train principals
The Texas A&M University System recently won a $3.6 million grant to pay for a new program to train and recruit school principals. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the five-year grant, of which almost $2.7 million will be split among component universities while the System will retain the remaining almost $1 million for development costs, including computer purchases, evaluation fees and administrative expenses.
The University Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program is designed to assist local education agencies in the development, enhancement and expansion of innovative programs to recruit, train and retain principals and assistant principals throughout the state, said Dr. Frank B. Ashley (pictured) vice chancellor for academic affairs for the Texas A&M System. Currently, the turnover rate for principals in Texas is about 40 percent and principals are critical in a school's success or failure, Ashley said.
The grant funds will provide scholarships for students who are training to be principals or assistant principals. The program also offers mentoring via the Internet once the principals are on the job.
CDA executed for DFW Connector project
A comprehensive development agreement was executed this week between the Texas Department of Transportation and NorthGate Constructors, J.V. to develop, design and construct 8.4 miles of the State Highway 114/121 corridor - the DFW Connector. The $1.02 billion project is to be built without private funds.
TxDOT and the region have identified $667 million in public funds for the project and the Texas Transportation Commission committed an additional $250 million in Recovery Act funds. Another $107 million in Proposition 14 bonds approved by Texas voters was committed in July for right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation. TxDOT will operate and maintain the roadway once completed.
Construction is expected to begin by 2010 and to be open to traffic in 2014.
UT-Dallas names Grief assistantVP for student affairs
Matt Grief (pictured) has been named assistant vice president for student affairs at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Grief joined the UT Dallas faculty as director of housing operations in 2006. He began his career as a residence hall supervisor at Angelo State University in 1993. From 1996 until 2002, he served as director of residence at the University of the Incarnate Word and spent the next four years as managing director of a campus housing company in Arlington.
Grief holds both a bachelor's and master's degree from Angelo State University.
Love Field awarded $3.6M for airport security
Dallas Love Field Airport has been awarded $3.6 million by the Transportation Security Administration to install closed circuit television technology to increase security at the airport. The funding will be used for new cameras throughout the facility.
The money will be used to enhance systems already in place at Love Field. "The new surveillance system will significantly enhance the existing video security surveillance capabilities at Love Field and will allow us to provide a more secure environment to the flying public," said Dan Weber, Director of Aviation for the City of Dallas.
Closed circuit TV technology is used at many airports throughout the country. TSA's funding is aimed at increasing safety for both airport facilities and employees. TSA recently also awarded $6 million for similar technology and upgrades at DFW International Airport.
UTHSC-Houston professor receives $26M federal grant
Dr. Eric Boerwinkle (pictured), a professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, has received $26 million in a federal grant to study genetic factors that contribute to heart, lung and blood diseases. He heads the Human Genetics Center at The University of Texas School of Public Health and the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, both of which are a part of UTHSC-Houston.
Boerwinkle and his research cohorts so far have netted about $49 million from 47 federal stimulus grants from the National Science Foundation and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The grants range from one to two years in scope.
The research team plans to compare the genetic makeup of about 40,000 individuals to identify genetic variants contributing to disease risk, which could aid in detection and treatment for patients.
TDRA grant funds available to rural communities
Rural communities in Texas can apply for $2 million in grant funds available through two programs of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs (TDRA) that stress the use of renewable energy. Grants will be available to help rural areas cut their energy costs by installing renewable energy and will also fund projects to help them develop new drinking water sources using wind power to desalinate brackish groundwater. Applicants must be cities with populations of 50,000 or fewer or counties of 200,000 or fewer.
Some $500,000 is available for fiscal year 2010 through TDRA's Renewable Energy Demonstration Pilot Program. Priority will be given to projects that use renewable energy to help provide power for water treatment or wastewater treatment plants. Another $1.5 million in grant funds is available for FY 2010 through the Renewable Energy for Desalination Program. This funding is part of $3 million appropriated by the legislature. The other half will be disbursed in FY 2011. Deadline for applications for both programs is Jan. 22 of next year.
For more information, to register for upcoming workshops related to the grant process or to access the Austin workshop via the Internet, contact Travis Brown, TDRA renewable energy program manager, at 512 273-2983 or email@example.com. Application forms for both grant programs are available on the TDRA Web site at www.tdra.state.tx.us.
TSSB recognizes Alvin Community College new degree
The Texas Skill Standards Board (TSSB) has formally recognized the Alvin Community College Process Technology Associate of Applied Science Degree for being integrated with statewide, industry-defined standards. TSSB, established in 1995, works as a liaison between industry groups and community and technical colleges and schools to ensure the requirements of future employers are met.
Curtis Crabtree, an ACC Process Technology instructor who was instrumental in achieving the TSSB recognition, said instructors cross-checked and updated their course syllabus against the TSSB standard while preparing for the recognition. In the accompanying photo, Crabtree (left) discusses principles with students during a recent class.
The TSSB recognition is valid for three years and is eligible for renewal.
A&M faculty member nets $2.4M for computing research
Dr. Valerie Taylor (pictured) of Texas A&M University has received $2.4 million from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Computer Systems Research program to develop Multicore Application Modeling Infrastructure or MuMI (pronounced "mummy").
Multicore processors provide better performance per watt than single-core processors, but relatively little is known about power-performance tradeoffs in multicore systems. Multicore systems require significant sharing of resources, which can constrain performance and impact power consumption.
Taylor said multicore processors provide the foundation of next-generation computing systems. The industry is only going to increase the number of cores on a chip, she said.
TWU receives $300K work-study mentorship grant
Texas Woman's University (TWU) has been awarded a $300,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THCB) for its G-Force student mentorship program. The program is designed to increase enrollment among Texas first-generation college students. The funds will be applied as wages for TWU students who work in the Go Centers.
"The TWU G-Force program has been a great success in reaching more than 10,000 students with the message that college is accessible for all," TWU Chancellor Ann Stuart (pictured) said. G-Force members mentor high school students, participate in college enrollment workshops and staff TWU-sponsored Go Centers in area high schools. Students can find admission and financial aid application assistance and other information that encourages them to attend college in the Go Centers. TWU's is the largest in the state with 70 student members and operates 13 centers in four North Texas counties.
THECB allocates funds to institutions of higher education with existing G-Force programs based on the number of student mentors in the program.
TAMUHSC College of Medicine dean steps down
Dr. Christopher C. Colenda (pictured) has announced he will be leaving his seven-year post as dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine to become chancellor for health sciences at the West Virginia University Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center. He begins his new role as chancellor Nov. 1.
Trained as a geriatric psychiatrist, Colenda holds a bachelor's degree from Wittenberg University and a medical degree from Medical College of Virginia. He completed his training in psychiatry at the University of Virginia Hospitals and at Emory University, where he served as chief resident and fellow.
Dr. Edward Sherwood will serve as interim dean for the HSC-College of Medicine. A search committee has been formed to find a successor for Colenda.
Victoria College recipient of $2.7M grant
Victoria College recently won a $2,720,831 grant to develop programs that will provide more access to Hispanic students and help those students remain in college. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Title V grant that allowed Victoria College to implement two initiatives on Oct. 1.
The funding will be used to improve existing partnerships with Gonzales ISD, Calhoun ISD and Victoria ISD, by implementing College Access Resource and Success (CARS) Centers on high school campuses beginning in 2010. Each center will have a college academic advisor who will help students prepare for college by assisting with readiness testing and by providing enrollment assistance for dual-credit courses. The program also will offer access to a Learning and Study Strategies Inventory that assesses the student's ability to manage time, their motivation and coping skills, said Superintendent Larry Nichols, superintendent of Calhoun ISD. Officials of Victoria ISD also plan to use the Title V funding to expand two pilot programs aimed at helping students succeed in college, the Supplemental Instruction and the First Year Experience pilot programs.
The grant also will allow Victoria College to increase the availability of tutoring services, institute an intervention program that includes goal setting and developing action plans for students on academic probation.
TAMU department welcomes Nobel Prize winner
Dr. David M. Lee (pictured), Nobel Prize winner in Physics and James Gilbert White Distinguished Professor of the Physical Sciences Emeritus at Cornell University, is set to join Texas A&M University's Department of Physics as a professor of physics for six months each year in the department's condensed matter program.
Lee, along with his research partners, won the Nobel Prize in 1996 for their 1972 discovery of superfluidity in helium-3 (He-3). As a result of the discovery, superfluid He-3 now ranks as one of the richest systems in condensed matter physics.
Lee joined the ranks of Cornell University in 1959. He holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, a master's degree from the University of Connecticut and a doctoral degree from Yale University.
Sasse joins LBJ School center as fellow
The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs' Center for Politics and Governance has named Benjamin Sasse (pictured) as a Fellow. Sasse, an LBJ School professor, recently served as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He will both teach classes and help develop a new curriculum to support initiatives of the Center.
While at HHS, Sasse led policy development and coordination, strategic planning and research functions among the department's 11 operating divisions, focusing on Medicare, Medicaid and the Food and Drug Administration.
Sasse did his undergraduate studies at Harvard, Oxford and St. John's and earned his doctorate from Yale.
UTPA garners $1.2M to assist county organizations
The University of Texas-Pan American Division of Community Engagement has been awarded a $1.2 million grant to assist grassroots and nonprofits in Hidalgo and Cameron counties to improve their services. The award was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Strengthening Communities Fund, created by the federal Recovery Act.
The grant is intended to improve the ability of nonprofits to create jobs and improve the economy through job training and job retention as well as access to state and federal benefits.
The one-time, two-year grant to UTPA's Southwest Border Nonprofit Resource Center will help the center provide numerous services to area nonprofit organizations, to help the enhance economic recovery activities. The center will provide technical assistance, professional workshops, board development, computer literacy and equipment and other capacity-building support to organizations that qualify for the funds.
UT-Tyler, TJC sign engineering compact agreement
The University of Texas at Tyler President Dr. Rodney Mabry (left) and Tyler Junior College President Dr. Mike Metke recently signed an agreement making their institutions the first to sign the Voluntary Statewide Mechanical Engineering Transfer Compact.
The Compact was developed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, working with a committee of representatives from two-year and four-year institutions throughout the state. The goal of the compact is to provide a structured and recognized program of study at the community college level that significantly increases the migration of students from community colleges to baccalaureate programs. It is also expected to increase the number of engineers in Texas by making an engineering education more available and affordable.
It can also lead to the development of an associate degree in engineering science that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Schneider only Texan funded for stem cell study
Dr. Jay Schneider (pictured), M.D., Ph.D., from The University of Texas Southwest Medical Center in Dallas will team with Dr. David Scadden, M.D., with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston as one of 18 teams of research scientists to share $170 million over seven years from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The research funds will be used to help these teams of scientists to develop stem cell and progenitor cell tools and therapies.
Schneider and Scadden are in elite company among the 18 teams of researchers representing such well-known research facilities as Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Massachusetts General Hospital, to name a few.
The funding grants create the NHLBI Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium, which will bring together researchers from the heart, lung, blood and technology research fields. It assembles nine research hubs with multidisciplinary teams of principal investigators and an administrative coordinating center to focus on progenitor cell biology.
UTHSC-San Antonio boasts $29M in stimulus awards
Researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have so far been awarded $29 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to study a bevy of diseases and disorders, ranging from cancers caused by HIV/AIDS to bipolar illness prevention.
The largest award to date - $5.2 million - will enable the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies to look into the retardation of age-related diseases and illnesses. The second-largest award for $3.1 million will fund a research network aimed at improving nursing, led by Kathleen R. Stevens, director of the Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE) in the School of Nursing.
Dr. Brian Herman (pictured), vice president for research at the Health Science Center, said researchers at UTHSC-San Antonio have aggressively sought the federal awards with much success. The center is fourth in the state with the most ARRA awards.
UNT nets $310K grant for student initiative
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has awarded the University of North Texas a $310,000 grant to boost enrollment among first-generation college students through its G-Force initiative, part of the Closing the Gaps program aimed at enrolling 630,000 more students in Texas colleges and universities by 2015.
"The work performed by G-Force mentors directly impacts the lives of the thousands of (potential college) students," said Patrick Vasquez, director of UNT's Office of Outreach and Community Involvement. He said high school students whose parents did not complete bachelor's degrees receive "encouragement, mentorship and learn how to complete college applications, write scholarship essays and understand the financial aid application process" through the program.
UNT's G-Force program operates through nine Go Centers located at the following districts:
Jenkins promoted to new post at UT-Dallas
Cynthia Jenkins (pictured) has been promoted to the role of assistant vice president for student affairs at The University of Texas at Dallas. She has served as associate dean of students since January. Jenkins' duties will expand to include overseeing Residential Life, New Student Programs, Transfer Student Services, Freshman and Transfer Student Orientations, the Parent and Family Association and the Sophomore Year Experience.
Jenkins previously taught courses in rhetoric and psychology at the university. She has also worked as director of undergraduate advising and continues to serve as a clinical assistant professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Jenkins earned her doctoral degree at UT-Dallas.
Victoria studying $6 million water park proposal
Victoria city council members recently requested a developer who proposed a $6 million water park for the city to gather more information before making a decision on the request for city help on the project. The developer agreed to meet with the city's legal staff to work out an agreement to determine whether the water park would receive some of the sales tax revenue it generates if it receives assistance from the city. City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz said he expects to report on the negotiations to council in about two weeks.
The developers proposed locating the water park on 3.2 acres of private property next to the convention center owned and operated by a private company. The developer asked the council to consider granting the developer a share of the sales tax revenue it might generate or a discount on the price of water to operate the park. The developer projected the water park would attract about 1,500 visitors a day, create about 60 jobs during the construction phase and an additional 60 seasonal jobs once in operation. The developer, who said he is working closely with the owner/operator of the convention center, said he also would like to expand the water park at a later date to include a miniature golf course, go-carts, batting cage, a paint-ball course and bumper boats at a cost of between $2 million and $3 million.
Concordia University joins ranks higher ed initiative
Concordia University Texas is joining the East Williamson County Higher Education Center (EWCHEC), a multi-institution teaching center, to bring college and workforce training programs to the Taylor and Hutto areas near Austin. Partners in the initiative include Temple College, Texas State Technical College, Texas Tech University, Taylor and Hutto school districts and the Legacy Early College High School.
Concordia officials plan to conduct an assessment of potential programs to bring to East Williamson County as part of the endeavor's initial phase. Temple College President Glenda Barron (pictured) said the college is eager to welcome partners to the EWCHEC alliance. "We are pleased to be able to work with all of the partnering institutions to bring excellent educational opportunities to East Williamson County," she said.
Arlington issues $38M in bonds to fund several projects
Arlington city officials recently authorized the issue of $38 million in bonds to pay for a new $4.5 million, two-story airport terminal and to begin work on a $3.8 million plan to raise a flood-prone bridge. Voters last November approved $140.8 million in bonds to pay for a five-year plan to improve roads, parks and fire stations as well as pay for drainage projects throughout the city.
Arlington city officials earmarked $20.8 million for public work projects this year, including $1.64 million for park improvements, $750,000 to expand the library collection and $250,000 to pay for relocating and rebuilding a fire station in southeast Arlington. The bond package also included proposals to improve the city's telephone system and to upgrade energy efficiency in city buildings.
Other projects approved by council include $4.4 million to rebuild Arkansas Lane, $2.3 million to rebuild and widen Green Oaks Blvd., $1.54 million to design a grade separation and widen Stadium Drive, $2 million for a soccer field, lighting, parking and other upgrades to a sports complex, $770,000 to build a new neighborhood park and $3 million for improving energy efficiency.
UNT selects Padgett as VP for enrollment technology
Tim Padgett (pictured) has been selected to serve as assistant vice president for enrollment technology in the Office of Enrollment Management at the University of North Texas, where he previously worked as a systems analyst. Padgett and his team will be responsible for making enrollment tools functional, reliable and time-efficient for students and staff who use them. They will also provide technical support for the divisions of the Office of Enrollment Management, including Enrollment Services, Office of the Registrar and the Financial Aid Office.
Padgett's team also works with Project Orion, coordinating with the university's Information Resources (IR) department to maintain security and quality data for enrollment records within the system.
Padgett holds a bachelor's degree from Arizona State University, and is completing a master's degree and an MBA at the University of Dallas.
Navarro Co. cities qualify for energy conservation grants
Navarro County and 17 cities in that county recently learned they are qualified for federal grants to help pay for energy conservation and efficiency. Navarro County received the largest share of the grant, $100,000, while the city of Corsicana will receive $75,000. Smaller cities such as Angus, Blooming Rose, Eureka, Emhouse, Kerens, Mustang and Rice each qualify for a $20,000 grant.
Corsicana city officials are considering replacing lights in traffic signals with LED lights, coating the roof of the library and other buildings with energy-saving coatings and installing solar panels on school crossing signals, said City Manager Connie Standridge.
Navarro County officials are considering installing water heater technology or solar energy for the jail. County and city officials have 45 days to formally apply for the grants being distributed by the Texas Comptroller's Office. The applications must state the project on which the money will be spent and how the project contributes to energy efficiency or conservation.
Ballard aims to create comprehensive plan for city
Ballard city officials recently began efforts to create a comprehensive plan after gaining support from the Ballard Independent School District school board members and several civic groups.
Mayor Teresa Adams-Wilks (pictured) said school district and civic organization leaders recognize the need to partner with the city in planning. The mayor said she appreciates that school district officials will provide information on their plans to build or expand campuses while the city is in the process of creating the comprehensive plan she estimates will cost about $20,000 to $30,000.
The plan should include information in infrastructure, transportation, parks and recreation, zoning goals and extraterritorial jurisdiction boundaries, she said. Adams-Wilks said she will ask area colleges to determine if they have a program that would provide faculty and students who could work on a comprehensive plan as part of their academic process. She also expects to form a five- to seven-member committee by the end of this month to work with city officials on developing a comprehensive plan. The new members will include a representative from a civic club and a private citizen, she said.
McLennan County approves $1.5M for courthouse roof
McLennan County commissioners recently approved $1.5 million to repair a leaky roof that recently flooded the fourth floor of the historic county courthouse. And a county commissioner said he is taking the lead in seeking a $3.2 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission to help pay for the first phase of restoration of the 107-year-old courthouse.
County officials estimate the three-phase courthouse restoration project will cost a total of about $11.3 million. The county has applied unsuccessfully each time a courthouse preservation grant has been available since 2001. Commissioner Joe Mashek predicted competition will be even more intense this round as legislators allocated only $20 million to the Historic Courthouse Preservation Program although the agency had requested an $85 million appropriation.
Phase one of the project includes restoring the dome of the courthouse, repairing the rooms, cleaning and preserving the statues around the dome and cleaning the limestone bricks of the building, he said. County officials are working on a request for proposals on the roofing project so the reroofing project can begin as soon as possible.
ACC partners with Cap Metro to offer free bus passes
Austin Community College District Board of Trustees have given the green light to Green Pass, a pilot program that will provide free Capitol Metro bus passes to ACC students, faculty and staff. The college system will be charged a discount rate per ride, according to an agreement reached with Capitol Metro. The start-up cost of the program will be $250,000, covered by a parking fee increase implemented this fall.
Andy Kim, the college's director of environmental stewardship, said the Green Pass initiative - which aims to gauge interest in mass transportation options in addition to collecting ridership data - counts as just one example of our "commitment to minimizing ACC's impact on the environment." The effort launches next spring semester, beginning in January.
Out of necessity comes invention - for governments that can mean P3s
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
It really is true that necessity is the mother of invention. And in today's shaky economic times, government is certainly finding that to be the case. As government entities face the dilemma of declining revenues and increased demand for services, many are finding innovative ways to stretch their funding.
One of the largest and most visible trends across the nation is the use of what most are calling P3s - public-private partnerships. This unique type of a partnering arrangement offers pubic entities a way to leverage capital, experience, expertise and technology from private sector firms while maintaining control over projects through management and oversight. This is a trend that transcends all jurisdictions of government. Both public officials and taxpayers, at least for the moment, appear to be embracing the trend.
The goal of P3s is to improve the delivery of public services through collaborative efforts. There are many examples of very successful partnerships like this in Texas.[more]
La Vega ISD's bond
Clean Carbon Policy Summit, Project Expo dates cited
Texas state officials including Chairman Barry Smitherman of the Public Utility Commission, Chairman Bryan Shaw of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Sen. Troy Fraser will be among keynote speakers for the 2nd Annual Clean Carbon Policy Summit and Project Expo slated Oct. 27 and 28 in Austin. These state officials, along with industry representatives, will provide an in-depth look at the policy and technology issues involved with meeting the state's electricity needs. State and federal energy policy will be explored as will policy issues and state energy priorities. For more information and to register online, click here.
PeopleFund to address economic development
PeopleFund's 7th Annual Conference on Economic Opportunity, formerly the East Austin Economic Summit, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Austin Community College Eastview Campus at 3401 Webberville Road, Building Eight. The conference brings together elected officials, policy makers, business owners and community leaders for dialogue regarding the region's economy. The program will feature interactive panel discussion regarding critical community issues, with a public forum for feedback on sustainable economic development. Among the conference topics are small business, workforce development, housing and development, transportation, arts and culture and urban agriculture. For more information, click here or contact Ayleen Perez at 512-472-8087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Port Arthur Small Business Summit slated Oct. 28
The Port Arthur Small Business Summit 2009 is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the Robert A. "Bob" Bowers Civic Center in Port Arthur. More than 500 small businesses, entrepreneurs, city and state departments and regional workforce officials are expected for the one-day event. Among the subjects for the event are public and private open contract schedules, financial assistance, stimulus funding allocations, export and import opportunities, small business growth and development opportunities, business certification and workforce development and training. Those attending will learn from high-level guest speakers, government officials, top financiers and small business advocates regarding how to engage in growing and expanding business capacity, how to become a supplier of goods and services, how to use information to determine business strategy and more. For more information, click here. To register, click here.
International Trade, Commerce Symposium set Oct. 15
The Honorable Wilfred Elrington, attorney general, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the Government of Belize, will be the lunch keynote speaker for the International Trade and Commerce Symposium on Thursday, Oct. 15. The event, sponsored by the Tri-County Black Chamber of Commerce, will be from 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Houston-Crowne Plaza Hotel Reliant Park, 8686 Kirby Drive in Houston. The symposium is conducted as outreach to minority-micro and small-business enterprises that are seeking participation in global markets. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m. along with a continental breakfast and ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the symposium's honorary chair, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade. U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk will deliver the opening address. The inauguration of the Tri-County International Chamber of Commerce will be held during the symposium luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information and to register, click here.
NFBPA plans "Outlook 2009" conference in October
The National Forum for Black Public Administrators will present "Outlook 2009: Preparing Leadership for Green Initiatives, New Technology and the Future Workforce" Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 8-10, at the Austin Convention Center. The conference will feature leading voices in green energy, workshops and panel discussions. Among the speakers will be Lee Jones, president and executive editor of InSpire Magazine. City managers from throughout the country will participate in a panel discussion regarding surviving the flailing economy. There will also be excellence awards for public administrators, networking opportunities and exhibits. Sponsorships are available. For more information and to register, click here.
6th Annual InnoTech Austin slated Oct. 29
The St. Edwards University Professional Education Center and the Austin Technology Council will host the 6th Annual InnoTech Austin event on Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Austin Convention Center. Robin Johnson, CIO of Dell, Inc., will be among the featured guests. Topics for discussion during the event will include: social computing topics including Facebook, Twitter and others; cloud computing and Cloud Security Alliance; Windows 7 launch; and virtualization, desktop virtualization, VoIP and mobility solutions. The day's activities include exhibits, educational topics, hands-on demonstrations and networking opportunities. For more information, click here. To register, click here.
2009 CATEE conference set for Oct. 14-16
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, State Rep. Rafael Anchia and Houston Mayor Bill White will address the upcoming 2009 CATEE (Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency) Conference set for Wednesday through Friday, Oct 14-16 in Houston. Keynote speaker for the conference, "Impacts and Opportunities in Today's Economy," will be George Bandy, Jr., vice president of InterfaceFLOR and former InerfaceFLOR manager of sustainable energy. Among the session topics will be the American Reinvestment and Recovery Fund - increased opportunities for cleaner air and energy efficiency in Texas, The Future of Federal Climate Legislation, review of the 81st Texas Legislative Session: air quality, energy efficiency, renewable energy and Smart Grid in Texas. For more information and to register, click here. For information on sponsorships and exhibit space, click here.
6th Annual Tee IT Up Texas IT golf tourney slated
Teams/players: All teams have been registered for this year's Tee IT Up! Texas Customer Appreciation Golf Tournament. If you are still interested in playing in this event, please email Scott Kennedy (email@example.com) to request a spot on the waiting list. If a team cancels, or there are some individual slots that need filled, Scott will compile a "waiting list" on a first come, first served basis. There is only 1 Ace and 1 Eagle Sponsor left. All Birdies have Sold Out! If you would like to still sponsor this year's tournament, visit http://teeituptexas.dojiggy.com and sign up.
TML getting ready for October annual conference
The Texas Municipal League will host its 97th Annual Conference and Exhibition Tuesday through Friday, Oct. 20-23, at the Fort Worth Convention Center. Each day of the conference will feature concurrent sessions and keynote speakers. The TML Board of Directors meeting will be Friday, Oct. 23. Among the many topics for the concurrent sessions are: State-of-the-Art Technology for Small Cities, Successful Economic Development in a Difficult Economy and Protecting City Accounts from Identity Theft. There will be an interactive session on dealing with difficult personalities. Other topics will be federal issues of importance to cities, community policing, preparing critical IT structure systems for disaster, maximizing retail opportunities, strategic planning and more. Among the keynote speakers will be Craig Karges, who combines magic with psychology and intuition to explore the potential of the human mind. For more information, click here. To register online, click here.