SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT SPOT WAITING TO BE FILLED

BY DEBBIE HOUSEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Who's second in command at UH?

Two men remain in contention for the remaining senior vice president spot, but some faculty question whether the eventual choice will have the power historically accorded to the position.

Confusion arose after UH President Marguerite Ross Barnett stated that while she is receiving treatments for a neuroendocrinological condition, Deputy to the President Tom Jones will carry out the day-to-day administrative duties in her absence.

On most college campuses, the second in command is the provost; at UH, that position is called the senior vice president for academic affairs.

James Pickering is currently assuming the position on an interim basis and is also, along with Bryan Wildenthal, a contender for the permanent position.

Prior to assuming the interim position in December 1990, Pickering, 54, had been dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts for the past nine years.

Wildenthal, 54, has been the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico since 1987.

Wildenthal said in a phone interview Thursday that he is impressed with UH's facilities and people. With his background in physics research, he said he was attracted to this university's research goals and to the caliber of this faculty.

"My personal attributes are suited to a university with a solid reputation for a high level of research and teaching," Wildenthal said.

His college experience includes natural sciences, social sciences, math, the humanities and others totaling 20 departments and 380 faculty members.

He has visited UH twice and grew up in San Marcos, Texas. He said the possibility of working at UH is an exciting prospect.

Pickering's secretary informed The Daily Cougar that Pickering would not be commenting on the issue.

Joe Pratt, chairman of the search committee, said the committee has finished its job. Originally, the list had 80 names, he said. The committee gave Barnett a list of six finalists. That number is now down to two.

It's Barnett's decision to confirm either Pickering or Wildenthal, Pratt said.

Barnett has been out of the office this week, so her office referred The Daily Cougar to Jones for a comment on when a selection will be made. However, Jones did not respond.

Stuart Long, a member of the search committee, said the current state of Barnett's health made it more imperative for the committee to finalize the list of candidates.

"There is no question, whether she is ill or not; it is to the university's advantage for us to get a senior vice president for academic affairs as soon as possible.

"An acting senior vice president for academic affairs does not have as much authority as someone in a permanent position," Long said.

But John Bernard, also a member of the committee, said without a permanent person in place, some faculty fear Jones has become second in command.

Bernard said, "I hear it all the time (from faculty). Most universities I know of have the president of the university as the boss and second in command is the provost. The provost is the head of the faculty and he should be second in command.

Bernard said he understands that Jones, in the deputy position, should help Barnett, but he thinks of Jones' position as one of a staff person.

The senior vice president for administration and finance had, until recently, been the vice president, without the senior title.

Long and other search committee members said there were questions raised as to whether the senior title was of equal power with the academic affairs position.

She told them the reason for adding senior was to attract a high-quality person to assume the position, Long said.

Bernard said, "The objection of my colleagues and I is not of him (Jones), but the apparent restructuring and this demotion or dillution of power of the senior vice president for academic affairs is unsettling."

Bernard said most of the faculty groups advise the provost, but this is not the way they deal with Jones because he is not involved with faculty governance.

"If the provost is weakened and not given academic reign, it will hurt this university. The idea of a super senior vice president is alarming," Bernard said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

NY STUDENTS ENDANGERED WHEN TRANSFORMER BLOWS

COUGAR NEWS SERVICE

Five transformers exploded at a New York college campus, spreading dangerously high levels of PCBs through several buildings and requiring medical treatment for 22 people who were exposed to the cancer-causing substance.

As a result of the explosions, the start of the spring semester was delayed nearly two weeks at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The university also has canceled spring break.

Now, as officials try to determine when they can open all of the contaminated buildings, many speculate student's belongings in at least two of the affected residence halls will never be recovered.

On Dec. 29, university officials reported that five transformers exploded after a car crashed into a telephone pole, causing a power surge.

"At about 7:30 a.m., I woke up because the power went off," said Andrew Langerman, a junior who stayed in his residence hall during the break. "Then the fire alarm went off, I grabbed my keys and my clothes, and the R.A. (resident assistant) on duty told me to evacuate the building."

Langerman, himself a resident assistant, and others weren't sure what had happened until about an hour later when they were sent outside the student health center to speak with emergency medical workers.

"We were then told by the fire department to go to the hospital to be decontaminated," Langerman said.

Before going to the hospital, the students had to remove their clothes and were wrapped in a tarp and a wet blanket. "It was nerve-wracking. One minute, there's a fire alarm, the next minute, we're exposed to dangerous toxins," Langerman said.

Twenty-two people -- seven of whom were students -- were treated at local hospitals for exposure to PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, used for insulation in electrical equipment.

Shortly after the explosions, the New York Times reported that PCB levels in one building were measured at 3,200 times higher than the amount considered safe under New York state guidelines.

The Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of PCBs in the early 1970s because tests showed they caused cancer in laboratory animals.

Langerman, editor of the student newspaper, The Oracle, said the hospital told him he hadn't been exposed to the PCBs for too long, and was subsequently released after several hours of observation. The students were then taken to a local motel, still in their hospital gowns, without their clothes or any belongings.

Had school been in session when the explosions occurred, hundreds of students would have been exposed, increasing the chances of health problems and likely contributing to chaos during building evacuations.

"If school had been in session, it could've turned deadly," Langerman said.

"This could have been much worse," said a SUNY-New Paltz spokeswoman who asked not to be identified. "If it had to happen, it happened at the best possible time."

While students are waiting to start classes on Feb. 3, the university is scrambling to find housing for students who lived in the two dorms still contaminated by the high levels of PCBs.

The public relations office, which is handling all inquiries into the explosion, said some students will be "tripling" in other residence hall rooms or relocating into off-campus housing.

The university spokeswoman said she didn't know if the belongings inside the contaminated halls would ever be recovered.

"They told us to come back like we're freshmen," said resident assistant Jamie Kleinkopf, a senior whose belongings are trapped in a contaminated room. "Most people are angry, upset and just devastated by the loss."

Kleinkopf said she knows several people with belongings potentially lost in the disaster -- an art student's portfolio and another friend's personal computer, loaded with software.

"People are upset, they're very upset," Langerman said. "How can you replace someone's memories?"

Toi Carter, president of the students' association, said she has heard from many students and "their first concern is about their possessions ... but people are concerned about their safety, too."

The university has hired an outside contracting firm to clean up the contamination. There was no indication how long the process would take. Two residences, Bliss Hall and Scutter Hall, and two classroom buildings, Coykendal Science Building and Parker Theater, remain closed because of dangerously high PCB levels.

Faculty members expressed concern about their belongings as well, most notably research projects still inside the science building.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

FACULTY SENATE DEBATES POWER OF DEPUTY POST

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Outgoing Faculty Senate President John Bernard expressed surprise with the apparent shift in power at the top of the UH administration.

At Wednesday's senate meeting, Bernard noted that Deputy to the President Tom Jones' assumption of President Marguerite Ross Barnett's duties during her absences has set an "unfortunate precedent."

"The administration has not been demonstrating convincingly its commitment toward shared governance," he said.

After the meeting, Bernard explained that most people felt Jones was like Barnett's chief of staff, since he was not selected through a search committee.

"You wouldn't expect (former White House Chief of Staff)

Sununu to take command during the president's absence," he said.

In addition, Bernard expressed his views on the search for a senior vice president of academic affairs, as the field narrowed to the interim official at that post, James Pickering, and Bryan Wildenthal, a candidate from the University of New Mexico.

Bernard showed concern for the break in the chain of command, and said he was not sure of the new selection's status in the administration.

"I think anyone coming here as provost," he said, "he or she would think they were second in command to the president."

Bernard stressed the word academics in the title of vice president of academic affairs, saying that should dictate who is next in charge.

"This is an academic institution," he said. "We're not a corporation. We don't have any product except education."

The new Faculty Senate president, Bill Cook, agreed there was some confusion with the university's hierarchy. He said part of the problem depends on the seriousness of Barnett's health. He said the faculty did not know at any one time if she was at the office or at home, if she was incapacitated or not.

Cook said the senate could make others aware of this precedent, which first came to his attention last spring.

"What the Faculty Senate does is point out these inconsistencies to the normal procedures in the hope that these don't happen again," he said.

In the largely ceremonial meeting, the outgoing chairs of the committees read short end-of-the-year reports. Bernard will take over as head of the all-important Committee on Committees, a post overseeing all faculty councils on campus.

The senate unanimously passed a draft outlining the formation of the University Planning and Policy Council. The UPPC would advise the president on academic policy as it affects the budget. Persons from the UH faculty, administration, staff and student population would fill the 30-member body, as well as two from the non-campus community.

Stephen Huber, chair of the Academic Council, said the UPPC is essentially a merger of his committee and the Budget Advisory Council. He said the senate's outline, which includes the faculty picking its own 13 members, is preferable to having the administration choosing 13 "yes people" for the positions.

"The point is to have an independent body that can have some impact," he said.

He noted that Jones was in the audience, and the unanimous passing of the resolution should have an effect with the administration.

He also said he hoped the UPPC will reduce the number of committees.

"I can assure you, as chair of the Academic Council, that I will call for a resolution that it (the Academic Council) go out of existence," he said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

TECH'S FLEMONS WARY OF `DEFEET'

BY JASON LUTHER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Texas Tech starting center Will Flemons will come into Houston's Hofheinz Pavilion Saturday looking for a little poetic justice.

Flemons broke his foot in last year's game at Houston, putting him out for the remainder of the season, and he would no doubt like the Red Raiders to score the type of upset they had against Tulane on Jan. 18.

The 6-8, 225-pound junior has been on fire through Tech's first 15 games, averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. In their last six, he is averaging more than 25 points and 11 rebounds per contest, including 25 points in the upset of nationally ranked Tulsa and 27 in a five-point loss to Texas at Austin.

Before the season, Raider Coach James Dickey said he hoped Flemons could simply stay healthy.

Flemons has not only been healthy, he has been the team leader, with the highest scoring in 11 games, including six straight.

A bad game from Flemons could make a big difference in the game, as only one other Tech starter, forward Damon Ashley, is averaging more than 9.5 points per game.

The Cougars (13-3), however, have a more balanced attack with center Charles Outlaw and forwards Craig Upchurch and Sam Mack each averaging more than 12 points a contest.

Houston comes into the game with a three-game winning streak, including a Jan. 18 win over Rice, a team that beat Tech by 15 points in Houston Wednesday.

The Rice loss came just four days after Tech's hard-fought 101-98 win against Tulane.

Dickey said he hopes the team can bounce back from the disappointing loss to Rice.

"Hopefully, our team learned something in the Rice loss that will help us prepare for a tough Houston team," Dickey said. "I felt, going into the season, that Houston would be one of the best teams in the country, and they've been just that."

Houston Coach Pat Foster said now that the non-conference schedule is over, the Cougars have to remain focused on winning the conference and reaching the NCAA tournament.

"We're close now," Foster said. "That's what it's all about for us. That's what our players work for."

Almost every team in the SWC has a shot at the title, and Foster said the Cougars must stay focused on each game.

"We're looking now at heading into the home stretch," Foster said. "We've got 11 conference games left, and they're all important. Every game from here looks tough."

If Tech (8-7) gets a good game from Flemons and some support from forward Lamont Dale and guard Lance Hughs against the Cougar match-up zone, the game could be tight.

Another key for the Red Raiders is to keep Ashley out of foul trouble. Ashley has either fouled out or been dismissed because of foul trouble in four of Tech's last five games.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

SA PRESIDENT VETOES MID-SEMESTER BREAK

BY RHONDA HECTOR

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

A bill giving students a mid-semester fall break was vetoed by Students' Association President Michael Berry last week, but its supporters are petitioning to get the measure passed.

The bill recommended giving students two days off around the second week of October, either immediately following or after a weekend.

"It would give people extra time to re-evaluate the work they have done so far in the semester," said Melissa Brady, a junior majoring in political science and an SA legislative intern who initiated the idea.

"Students have no time to think about their studies except on the weekend because they are inundated with their daily activities," Brady said.

The bill stated the faculty would have more time to prepare examinations if the break was initiated.

"I think it's a wonderful and novel idea, " Berry said. "However, I did not feel like the merits outweighed the disadvantages."

Among his reasons for vetoing the bill, Berry said in a sense the bill would be lengthening the semester. The days would have to be added to the end of the semester, cutting short Christmas break or starting the semester earlier, Berry said.

A major disadvantage to starting the fall semester earlier is that students in summer school would have less than a week between the last summer session and the fall semesters, Berry said.

Cutting Christmas break short would not only decrease the four weeks that some students use to work, but would also interfere with the time international students use to return to their native homes, Berry said.

In response to the veto, Brady has started a petition so students can express their support for the bill.

Brady hopes the bill is presented again and passed by the SA Senate, but she said it could be used as a platform for candidates during the March SA elections.

"No matter what happens, I want the administration to see that this is a good idea," Brady said.

Brady is aiming for 1,000 signatures on the student petition and hopes to get 50 signatures on a separate petition circulated among faculty and staff.

"In my opinion, it doesn't stand a chance of succeeding, and the majority of students don't support it in the first place," Berry said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

MANDELA VISITS TSU; STUDENTS' ROOTS' VITAL

BY ERICKA SCHICHE

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The struggle for equality in South Africa came to Houston this week.

Winnie Mandela, wife of South African social activist Nelson Mandela, spoke at the Texas Southern University campus Thursday, spreading a message of hope and peace for the people of South Africa.

She spoke at length about the current living conditions of many African people.

"We regard you as that golden investment which is priceless," Mandela said. "When your great-great-grandfathers were brought to the shores of this land, they were brought forcefully. Your roots are in Africa."

As director of the Social Welfare Department of the African National Congress, Mandela's mission is to improve the health, education, housing and general welfare of South Africans.

The fight for native rights is not new to South African soil.

"We were colonized from 1652, when rogues from Holland landed on the Cape soil," she said.

Battles for liberation of the South African people have been waged since then, Mandela said.

She drew applause and laughter when she likened the Boors to a Republican presidential candidate, calling them "the David Dukes of South Africa."

Mandela's speech also touched on negotiations between the current administration, headed by F.W. de Klerk, and the African National Congress. The two bodies recently began joint talks.

Mandela said the 1976 Soweto school riots were an example of how mass action proved to be the strongest weapon of the people. "That was the beginning of the ferocious struggle with the Afrikaners," she said.

Following her speech, she shouted "Amandla!," stepped away from the podium and introduced a former South African school teacher. The teacher spoke of the overcrowding and low morale of students in what she described as the inferior schools of South Africa.

Statistics compiled by the United Nations Center Against Apartheid in 1987 indicate South African pupil expenditures for whites to blacks is 8-to-1.

Local school-age children's cries of excitement echoed throughout TSU's Hannah Hall Auditorium when they first caught sight of Mandela.

Prior to and during the "Save the Children" program honoring Mandela, students responded to Houston Kuumba House Director Lindi Yeni's question "Who do we love?"

"Mrs. Winnie Mandela," they cried.

"Amandla!," said Yeni, using a South African phrase which translates to "the power."

In response, the students shouted "Ngawethu!" -- it's ours.

The children, who traveled from several Houston-area schools during her visit, also participated with enthusiasm when fellow students performed or took part in the ceremony. They cheered loudest when Ideal, a five-member a cappella group, sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the black national anthem.

The predominantly black audience of mostly elementary- and middle school-aged children stood in silence as Mandela sang the African national anthem with students from Blackshear Elementary.

As they did when her husband visited the campus in December, several audience members extended their right fist forward, a gesture symbolic of hope and power.

A native of Bizana, a part of the Cape Province area known as Pondoland, Mandela spent her childhood in the Madikizela household as one of nine children. She eventually became a

social worker, marrying Mandela in 1958 and they have two

daughters, Zenani and Zindziwa, Both husband and wife have served prison sentences for their activities as political and social activists.

Recently, Winnie Mandela stood trial for allegedly arranging the kidnapping and assault of four youths, a charge she has steadfastly denied. Her original sentence, of six years, is currently under appeal.

Mandela, described by Rev. James Dixon as "the voice of one who cries for freedom," left shortly before the program officially concluded. Others who participated in the program included Martin Luther King, III, Olympian Carl Lewis and Samuel Adams, a former U.S. diplomat who served in Southeast Asia and Africa. From the auditorium, Mandela proceeded to a reception held in her honor at the SHAPE Community Center, a lecture at the Houston Community College's Heinen Auditorium, and a fund-raising banquet at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Houston is one of the last stops on Mandela's tour that included Gainesville, Fla.; Atlanta; New Orleans and Los Angeles.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

ALBEE'S MARRIAGE PLAY: A TRAGEDY WITH A HAPPY ENDING

BY PEDRO GUTIERREZ

Marriage Play -- playing at the Alley Theatre through Feb. 2 -- is about a married couple who, paradoxically, fall in love after 30 years of matrimony and raising children.

The play opens with Jack arriving home as his wife, Gilliam, is reading a magazine. (We learn later that it is not a magazine.) He shouts in her face: "I'm leaving you!" Jack tells Gilliam he is leaving her because something terrible has happened to him at the office.

After years of working in the same place, he arrived at work in the morning and did not recognize his desk, his papers or his secretary. For a moment, he did not even recognize his own face in the mirror.

Jack, in his confusion, has made a forceful decision similar to the ones he has made for the past 30 years with contracts, legal documents, business deals, etc.

"I'm leaving you!" becomes the leitmotif of the play and implies an accusation on his wife for his confusion: "I'm leaving you because I don't know who I am." But more and more, the threat becomes a pathetic question he needs to answer to become himself again: "Who am I?" He doesn't know, but she does.

The rest of the play is about Gilliam using her wisdom and serenity -- acquired during 30 years of exemplary service to her family -- to explain to her confused husband who he is. In other words, she tries to explain to him who he has been for 30 years.

Up to now, everything has made sense for Jack -- his work, his image as a successful professional, his sporadic and "obligated" love affairs, his children and, especially, his wife, who has been just a nice image in the same mirror in which Jack has been looking at himself for three decades.

One day, when he is close to retirement, he looks at himself and he doesn't know who he is. The reflected image in the mirror was not an object of his control, but a subject also looking at him.

This professional hero is lost in a labyrinth of mirrors and new images, staring back at him. For a moment, the mirror doesn't reflect the comprehensive and complacent images that for 30 years have been supporting his own image as a successful man.

The mirror has cracked, and the object of his reflection has become the subjects looking, he thinks, aggressively at him. They look aggressively at him because he has ignored them for more than a score of years.

Having recognized the existence of others, he doesn't recognize himself. Upset with and confused by his empty life, he wants to break with his past -- symbolized by his wife -- by leaving her, but she knows that in not knowing himself, he has no place to go.

She also knows -- and this is Gilliam's wisdom -- that the time has finally arrived for her husband to know her and also to know himself better.

This is the paradoxically complex game of Marriage Play: at the end of their lives, the opportunity to start knowing and loving each other has arrived. She knows this and, because she loves him, she wants to make it come true. How is Gilliam to resolve successfully this complex paradox? The author has given his heroine three invaluable gifts: wisdom, serenity and determination. Gilliam, because of this, is a unique person. Like a Greek heroine, she is an example of honesty and self-sacrifice to her husband and children. Although she jokes about her dreams of extra-marital affairs, ironically involving her husband, she -- we can say -- is the symbol of the perfect bride. She becomes, then, the heroine of Albee's play, a victim of 30 years of imprisonment in a golden cage, who is going to tell her victimizer who he is. And, because she loves him, she is going to help him pass successfully through this rite of passage into self-awareness.

After three decades, life has given her the opportunity to do so, and she is determined to do it. She knows first that it is her last and only chance to defend -- whatever the cost -- her right to be listened to. This is her last chance to express her feelings, her alienation and her self-sacrifice for 30 years. And because she has been waiting for years for this moment, she knows how and what to do.

She is so determined in her course, that once, when her surrounded husband cowardly tries to escape, she confronts and physically stops him. But Gilliam's power lies not in physical confrontation. Her wisdom and serenity are founded in her knowledge of all the facts from 30 years.

She has the memory and the words recorded in The Book of Days, an unpublished manuscript that Gilliam has been writing during marriage. The book -- a Kama Sutra of their lives -- contains one by one all the details of lovemaking experienced by the couple.

The angry husband has been unaware of its existence and considers himself compromised.

The audience should not expect the answers from him. She has the answers, because she has the book: The Book of Love, the language of both, during their most intimate moments. The Book of Days, then, is not a book about one but is a book about two.

While Jack has been thinking only of himself during their marriage, Gilliam has been thinking, writing and dreaming about both. Her mirror -- the book -- has been reflecting not only her own image but the image of their lives together. She has all the proof. When her confused husband becomes aware the book also reflects himself, he takes the bait.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

PLASTIC BARRIER MAY BE ERECTED BETWEEN STUDENTS AND LOANS

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Many students may receive a rude awakening when they apply for a Stafford loan in the fall. If some rules are changed, students over 20-years-old will undergo credit checks before they become eligible for the program.

Defaulting students will also feel Uncle Sam's grip. If they become gainfully employed, the government will garnish their wages. Although technically illegal in Texas, garnishment can be used when federal law takes precedence.

Rounding out the changes is a new policy requiring universities to give financial data about borrowers to their banks.

The new rule changes, passed by Congress in November, have been suspended by the Department of Education pending further study. Robert Sheridan, director of UH Scholarships and Financial Aid, said the USDE needs to understand the ramifications of the rules before further action.

Congressmen attached the changes to a bill extending employment benefits after President Bush vetoed it. Serving as offsetting savings to equal costs derived by the bill, the changes went virtually unnoticed until recent objections by colleges caused the rules' suspension.

Stafford loans, formerly called guaranteed student loans, help 4,644 UH students. The sum of these funds totals nearly $16 million.

Sheridan said that since the average age of a UH student is 27 or 28, most applicants would be subjected to a credit check, and he estimated that more than 10 percent of those would fail it.

"We probably are going be hit a lot harder, being a large, urban university," he said, "than someone in a small liberal arts college."

Sheridan said disqualified students have few options for financial aid since the Stafford loan program is by far the largest at the university. He said the only other route available to rejected students is to find a co-signer.

"If you don't qualify for a Stafford loan, you're in deep trouble," he said.

Sheridan said the impact on graduate students will be most dramatic because they are not eligible for Pell grants. He said some students may have to switch to part-time attendance if the rules are changed.

But he said the new rules are not yet a reality.

"If I had to gaze into a crystal ball," Sheridan said, "the issue of credit checks will die -- it won't happen. I say that because many people in Congress were appalled that (the changes) slipped through in the legislation."

The most recent default rate here is 7.2 percent in 1989. Sheridan said wage garnishing will probably happen, but the issue of schools providing banks with students' data has only a 50-50 chance of passing.

Joe McCormick, president of the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corp., said the new regulations would discriminate against poor students, making their lives more complicated.

"We've got to get back to serving students and getting rid of this damned legislation," he said.

For the program to be truly effective, it has to be judged on its performance, Sheridan said.

Larry Spencer, a 20-year-old political science student, showed some concern about the new rules, since he is currently fighting a bad credit rap with UH. He said he would have trouble paying for school without a Stafford loan next year.

"I would have to get a job," he said, "and school would be hard. I don't need another job."

He said few people like to co-sign for loans, so he would have to take classes on a part-time basis.

"But I don't want to go to school six years," he said.

 

Visit The Daily Cougar