UH NOT EXPECTING INCREASED STATE FUNDS

by Meagan McGovern

Daily Cougar Staff

Despite a rosier scenario for higher education than expected in the Texas Legislature's first proposed budget, UH administrators and state officials say state universities may still suffer funding cuts.

The state budget, proposed to the state Senate, puts higher education funding at zero percent. Although this means UH wouldn't have to absorb the 3 percent to 10 percent cuts that had been feared, zero percent means that UH has the same amount, in dollars, as last year to spend. That's it -- no adjustment for inflation, raises, cost of living or repairs.

And that's just the first bill introduced. Governor Ann Richards and the Texas House of Representatives both have bills yet to be introduced, and UH administrator Andrew Szilagyi said the next bills may not be as lenient.

"I don't think zero percent is what we're going to end up with," said Szilagyi, the associate vice president for planning and executive associate to the president.

"Nobody can say how UH will end up," said Roger Elliott, assistant commissioner for research, planning and finance at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The THECB outlines formulas to allocate funds to state schools, based on the decisions of the Legislature.

"There's no money for growth here," said Elliott, "but it's better to see level funding than huge cuts."

Jim Oliver, director of the legislative budget board, agrees. "The budget laid out last week had no cuts for higher education," he said. The budget board, using requests for funding from state agencies, wrote the bill that was proposed.

"The final bill hasn't been written yet," he said, adding that he was certain a lot of changes would be made before the end of the session on May 31. Several areas of the bill would directly affect UH. One of the effects is that more of the burden for funding will be shifted to the university, thus into tuition, instead of the state.

"It limits our options," said Szilagyi, who added that schools must now use their own money, generated by tuition, for funding and rely less on the state. He said state schools are becoming "state-assisted," rather than "state- funded."

UH is undergoing a reshaping project that will encompass all areas of the school. One reason mentioned repeatedly last year for the restructuring was the expected budget cuts.

Szilagyi, however, said the project is still necessary, perhaps now more than ever. There may be severe cuts by the time the bill is completed, he said. "This is our starting point in the Legislature."

Another reason for the reshaping is the quality of UH, he said. "The reshaping would go on, irrespective of budget constraints. If this bill works out, however, we may be more able to accommodate where the money goes."

One way UH has already cut back is in the form of a hiring freeze. When administrators looked at jobs within the school that had been vacant for over one year, they found 96 positions open with total salaries of over $3.5 million.

No one will be hired to fill these jobs, said Szilagyi, and the money will go back to the school. "It allows us some flexibility," he said.

 

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

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

 

DRIVERS MAY SOON PAY FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF RUSH HOUR

by Karen Snelling

Daily Cougar Staff

Imagine driving to school in the early mornings or late afternoons, passing through electronic gates and having a bank account debited for the privilege of driving on the freeways.

"Congestion pricing," or charging drivers to drive on certain freeways during heavy traffic times is one of the solutions that economists have come up with to solve Houston's traffic.

The UH Center for Public Policy and Citizens Advocating Responsible Transportation co-sponsored the Southwest Congestion Pricing Conference recently at the University Hilton Hotel. Houston economists, traffic engineers and political scientists discussed the pros and cons of congestion pricing.

With congestion pricing, drivers would pay full cost for using the freeway rather than the partial cost of maintaining a vehicle and having a gas tax, said Justin Bryan, a member of Citizens Advocating Responsible Transportation.

A highway fee will effect most of UH's 33,000 students because 93 percent commute to school.

The reasoning behind congestion pricing is that having drivers pay the full cost of using the freeway will cause them to drive less and cause traffic and air pollution to decrease, Bryan said.

Bryan said he personally chose the UH Center for Public Policy to co-sponsor the conference because of the center's past research and programs concerning Houston's economy and public policies. "I don't know of any other group that reaches out to the public with current issues like the Center for Public Policy does," he said.

Although Metro officials attended the conference and are examining the effects of congestion pricing, no definite steps are being taken, said Lloyd Smith, executive assistant to the chairman of Houston's Metro.

"Metro won't go full scale into an untested program like that," he said.

Smith said initiating congestion pricing in Houston will require the cooperation of local, state and federal government. No one agency can accomplish this type of project alone, he said.

At the conference, different methods of congestion pricing were considered. A spokesperson for the UH Center for Public Policy mentioned a pricing experiment where single occupants could drive in the High Occupancy Vehicle lane for a fee.

People both for and against congestion pricing presented their arguments at the conference, said Greg Weiher, director of the UH Center for Public Policy. "The possibility of congestion pricing in Houston is small but real," he said.

People would be charged only at areas and times when traffic is a serious problem, Weiher said.

Congestion pricing is geared to encourage people to not to drive at peak times if they don't have to, he said.

Weiher said he was aware that many drivers have to drive on certain roads at peak times because of their jobs. However, he said he believed many drivers are making non-work related trips at peak times.

Weiher mentioned a recent survey conducted in the San Francisco Bay area showing that 30 percent of morning rush hour drivers and 60 percent of evening rush hour drivers were not going to or from work.

This survey showed that most of these drivers were shopping and running errands, he said. Weiher said he did not know if this type of research has been conducted in Houston.

"I think, initially, congestion pricing implies such a change in driving habits that people are against it at first," Weiher said.

Charging to drive on the freeways is not only unfair to people driving to work but also unfair to students, said Francis Ten, a senior interior design major.

Most students have to drive to campus during morning rush hour because of early classes, she said.

Because UH offers certain required courses only at certain times, students don't have the ability to alter their schedules to avoid a traffic fee.

Amanda Doyle, a graduate student in the School of Music, said she would not like having to pay another fee just to drive to school.

Congestion pricing on the freeways will only make the service roads more crowded from people trying to avoid paying an extra fee, said Kimberly Tucker, a junior music major.

Although congestion pricing in Houston could be initiated quickly if it is accepted, not enough people have approved of this idea to make it a part of Houston's near future, Weiher said.

 

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

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

 

HISPANIC PROFESSOR BRINGS CULTURE TO UH

by Kristine Fahrenholz

Daily Cougar Staff

Arte Publico Press was created to expose UH to Hispanic culture through literature. One recently-honored professor wants to do just that.

"I plan to assist in making Hispanic culture part of the national identity," said Nicolas Kanellos, a professor of Hispanic literature.

There is a need to publish Hispanic writers because they're often overlooked, said Kanellos, who is originally from New York and was honored at the first-ever "American All-Stars" awards program Jan. 15 for his growing influence on Hispanics across the nation.

In 1988, President Reagan awarded Kanellos the Hispanic Heritage Award at the White House for his work in literature.

Arte Publico Press, established in 1979, grew out of a literary magazine Kanellos had published.

Approximately 20 to 25 books are published each year by Arte Publico Press. "Most of the works published are creative writing. However, many of the books become textbooks for college use," Kanellos said.

A line of children's and young adult literature is one of the new plans Kanellos has for Arte Publico Press, which also has a $2,000 scholarship fund donated by Southwestern Bell of Texas. The fund went into the Halpern-Kanellos Scholarship Fund at UH.

A former student of Kanellos, Les Halpern, set up the scholarship fund, which currently has approximately $3,000 to $4,000.

As a professor for more than 21 years, Kanellos said he teaches less because of Arte Publico Press, but, "the publishing company is a particular part of my mission that is very pressing at this time."

Rain of Gold, written by Victor Villa Señor, is one of the recently published books by Arte Publico Press.

Kanellos also heads up a project known as "Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage." The main goal of this project is to locate, preserve and make easily accessible three centuries of Hispanic fiction and non-fiction, poetry, periodicals and journals.

The estimated cost of the 10-year project is $20 million. The project is in its second year.

UH students are involved with Arte Publico Press as research assistants who trace works and compile bibliographies. Some are involved in a work-study program.

Kanellos has lived most of his life in Texas with his wife, Christiala Perez, and his son, Miguel, who is three-and-a-half years old.

The "American All-Stars," sponsored by Southwestern Bell Telephone of Texas and the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also recognized Eduardo Aguirre Jr., a senior vice president of Nations Bank.

The honorees are among 100 Hispanics nationally chosen by Hispanic Business Magazine because of their national interest in the Hispanic community and long-time influential merit.

 

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

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

 

NOTED AUTHORS GIVE GUIDANCE TO STUDENTS

by Amey Mazurek

Contributing Writer

The UH creative writing program provides graduate students with guidance and individual consultation from nationally renowned writers.

Widely-published authors and faculty members Daniel Stern and Rosellen Brown are two professors who provide feedback to graduate students in the writing program.

Despite time spent away from UH on literary tours and lecture circuits, graduate student Deborah Cummins said the professors always seem to be on hand when she needs help with a story.

According to Robert Phillips, creative writing program director, Brown is "careful" to schedule talk show appearances, readings and book signings around her classes.

"Part of what you pay for in the creative writing program, is the named author's feedback and criticism," Phillips said.

The authors teach only graduate classes. So undergrads who take beginning fiction classes might be disappointed to find a TA assigned to them rather than Stern or Brown.

Undergrads who persevere, however, and decide to pursue creative writing in graduate classes, may be awarded a spot for the individual instruction and attention of a published peer.

Brown, a veteran faculty member of the UH Creative Writing Program, recently published a novel, Before and After, which has made the New York Times bestseller list and been optioned by Columbia Pictures for a film featuring Meryl Streep.

Stern is teaching his second semester in the UH Creative Writing Program. Before coming to UH, he taught at Wesleyan University, Harvard University and Pace University.

Brown's novels include Autobiography of My Mother (1976), Tender Mercies (1978) and Civil Wars (1984). She also published an awards-winning poetry collection, Some Deaths in the Delta (1970).

Stern has published Twice Upon a Time (1992), Twice Told Tales (1989) and Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die (1963).

Brown and Stern will appear together for the Margarett Root Brown Houston Reading Series, 8 p.m., Jan. 26 in the Brown Auditorium of the MFA. Students and senior citizens will be admitted free of charge. For others, a $5 donation will be requested.

 

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

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

 

ENGINEERS MAKE THE GRADE

by Brett Lindsay

Contributing Writer

UH's Career Planning and Placement Center, which has a 78 percent success rate, aids students who are interested in finding a job after graduation.

The Career Center also helps students with career decisions, finding jobs while still in school and marketing their skills in the professional world successfully.

"The key is to start early," said David B. Small, assistant vice president for Student Services.

The rate of 78 percent is based on a survey taken three months after graduation. The survey only counted graduates who were looking for jobs in their major, and who had used the Career Center.

The success rate varied by major. Engineering topped the list with a 92 percent employment rate, while liberal arts majors only had a 25 percent employment rate.

"If I had the resources, I would very much like to do a study on all students who graduate," Small said. "I would like to do a comparison between those who used the center, and those who did not."

Students can also meet with advisors who can help with career decisions. They evaluate a students aptitudes, and show them their strong and weak points. "We teach them how to use the resources that are available to them," Small said.

The center also has a job bank that carries more than 5,500 listings per year, and is used by an estimated 20,000 students annually. The network is updated daily with 20 to 30 new listings, Small said.

About 450 corporations hold interviews and job fairs through the Career Center. The center also teaches students interviewing techniques, how to network and holds resume writing workshops. The center hosts over 300 workshops annually, Small said.

Although Houston's job market is better than most of Texas' right now, it is still a buyer's market, he said

To be a more competitive candidate, students should get involved early. Small suggests applying for internships, keeping a strong GPA and using electives wisely.

The Career Center is located on the first floor of the Counseling and Testing building.

 

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

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

 

NO BUYERS FOR MELCHER

Karen Snelling

Daily Cougar Staff

Although UH is offering people a chance to purchase President James Pickering's contemporary presidential house located near former president Bush's new home, no one is offering a high enough price. As a result, the UH system is seeking the help of private realtors.

Melcher House, available for use by the president of UH, was put on the market last October. The UH System intended to sell it through sealed bids.

All the bids the System has received so far have been less than the original appraisal $700,000 value of the house said Renee Block, assistant director of real estate and risk management for the UH System.

Block said she will be interviewing about five private real estate brokers, who are familiar with the Memorial area, to take over the sale of Melcher house.

Once the final broker is chosen, sealed bidding for Melcher House will end, she said.

"We (the UH System) hope that a private broker will attract a buyer that will give us a higher price than we've been offered so far," Block said.

After becoming president of UH last February, Pickering chose not to live at Melcher House.

Most UH presidents receive housing allowances instead of living in assigned housing, UH System Chancellor Alexander Schilt said.

However, presidents of other Texas universities, such as Texas A&M and the University of Texas, choose to live in a presidential house.

These universities also reimburse their presidents for some living expenses.

Schilt said the Melcher House is unneeded because official entertainment functions by Pickering are held at the Wortham House where Schilt lives.

The cost of maintaining the unoccupied house is one of the major reasons to put it up for sale, Schilt said.

 

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

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

 

CRIMES KEEP UHPD BUSY DURING HOLIDAYS

by Michica N. Guillory

Daily Cougar Staff

While students across the nation enjoyed their Christmas vacations, criminals were hard at work at UH.

A 23-year-old senior biology major was physically assaulted in M.D. Anderson Library on Dec. 14 after he told an unidentified man to be quiet, resulting in the man becoming louder, UHPD Lt. Helia Durant said.

The student and his female companion left the area and were subsequently followed by the man, who "then got in the student's face, making physical threats and (then) hit the student in the face . . . (He) sustained injuries to the left eye and cheek," Durant said.

The student received treatment at the UH Health Center and agreed to press charges if his assailant is caught.

In a separate incident early the next morning on Dec. 15, Charter Foods on Calhoun was robbed of $43 cash and 25 cartons of cigarettes valued at $562.50.

Robert Glen Davis, 38, has been arrested and charged with the robbery.

According to Durant, Davis paid for $2 worth of gas.

The suspect then went to the restroom, and upon returning, stepped behind the counter and told clerk Eustacio Andrade, "If you don't do what I tell you, I'll shoot you."

Davis was not visibly armed, Durant said.

The suspect then instructed Andrade to open the time-access cash controller, which allows the clerk to withdraw $10 every two minutes. Eventually, he told Andrade to open the safe, and upon learning that Andrade did not have access to the safe, kicked open the door to the storage room and instructed Andrade to lie on the floor before taking cigarettes and more money from the time-access controller and leaving the store.

An investigation led UHPD to a Roadrunner Motor Inn on the North freeway.

Davis was arrested without incident and placed in the Harris County Jail with no bond. He had been released from the Texas Department of Corrections five days before the robbery.

In another unrelated incident, a casual game of basketball turned into a trip to the doctor's office for Scott Smith, a sophomore business major.

"After the game, he was approached by two players of the team he played against," Durant said. "After exchanging words, one said, 'I'm going to go upside your head,' " Durant said.

Smith then allegedly said, "Well, go for it," Durant said.

Smith wound up with a broken nose and several cuts on his face.

Houston Fire Department paramedics examined him initially, but he refused further treatment at that time and agreed to see a doctor the next day.

"The men were not caught, but Smith can identify his assailants and will press charges if they are apprehended," Durant said.

In national news, a language professor and a sophomore at Simon's Rock College in Mass. were killed last month by a gun-wielding student, according to a College Press Service report.

Wayne Lo, 18, allegedly purchased a semiautomatic rifle on the day of his shooting spree, which began at a security booth.

He critically wounded the guard and killed professor Nacunan Saez with a gunshot wound to the head during the Dec. 14 melee, the report stated.

Lo then killed 18-year-old sophomore Galen Gibson in the library with a shot to the chest and injured another student.

The spree ended in a dormitory, where he shot and wounded two more students.

According to students, Lo had become withdrawn for weeks prior to the shooting.

 

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

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

 

HOUSTON NIGHT LIFE A GAMBLE; GUYS AND DOLLS A SAFE BET

by Manuel Esparza

Daily Cougar Staff

Welcome to New York, not as it is, but as it should be. Where the locals shoot craps and not each other. The biggest crime here is not dressing fashionably, and the likes of John Gotti and Tony "Scarface" Montoya would never exist. It also just happens to be the backdrop for <I>Guys And Dolls<P> .

Aided by Tony Walton (sets) and William Ivey Long (costumes), director Jerry Zaks created Runyonland, after Damon Runyon, who wrote the story.

The visual success of the show comes from brilliant costumes, splashy sets and the busy, but tight, ensemble scenes. Zaks makes superlatives and hyperboles ordinary.

Zaks didn't just focus on the scenery -- he has taken a powerful cast and squeezed out their very best. The end result is a production that has won four Tony Awards, including best scenic design and best actress.

The story takes place in New York circa 1950. It is a tale of two types of love. The first is the love of Miss Adelaide and Nathan Detroit. He promises to change but doesn't, and she loves him despite his faults (which include both gambling and lying).

The second is that of two people from different worlds that are more alike than they think -- Sky Masterson, a gambler who'll bet on anything, and Sister Sarah Brown, a missionary maiden making a minor mark in life.

As the curtain drew, Runyonland was exposed in its full glory, with all cast members moving to their own beat, reminiscent of the Peanuts dance. Zaks took a typical New York street and intensified it. A sailor struts about with two young women while pickpockets play. Out of nowhere, a paperboy bounces into view then quickly leaves. As wheels within wheels, groups moved in and out of the main focus while the rest of the ensemble carried on.

The transition from the street to the sewers was a great onstage scene change. Sky asks a gambler where he can find Nathan Detroit; he just opens up a sewer lid. Down in the sewer, for the "Oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York," with no Ninja Turtles in sight, the gamblers get a little more hedonistic. Fortunes won and lost on the dice rolls are well conveyed as each dancer takes his turn.

When Sky comes down to make a bet of $1000 or attends a midnight prayer meeting in the spectacular "Luck Be A Lady Tonight," song, Richard Muenz, who portrays Sky, shook the hall with his voice.

At the prayer meeting, the gamblers took turns giving testimonials. Kevin Ligon, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, gave a more gentle but no-less-memorable show with "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat."

As the highlight of the performance, Ligon's voice held as true as an arrow in flight. He sang clearly, he sang loudly. He put the audience in his pocket and didn't let them out.

As Sarah Brown, Patricia Ben Peterson shone bright enough not to need a spotlight. Her several duets and one solo were consistently brilliant. Her performance warranted top billing.

Lorna Luft, Judy Garland's daughter, played Adelaide, complete with peeps and squeals that befit a showgirl. Her role was probably the most fun onstage, and she played it up as if she were to be judged solely on this performance.

The colorful costumes were louder than a Camaro with a bad muffler. The players made a chromatic cascade of cloth. Every outfit was distinctive and tailored to each player's role. Bright were the suits, and broad were the stripes. From their glossy wing-tip shoes to their flashy Fedoras, they danced around in a kaleidoscope 'vivant.'

Because it's a touring Broadway show, <I>Dolls<P> won't be in town for long. Treat yourselves to an evening in Jones Hall, and let these good-time gamblers take you to New York.

<I>Guys And Dolls<P> runs until Jan. 24, and tickets are available at Jones Hall and Ticketmaster.

 

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

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

 

STELLAR TALENTS SHINE IN USED PEOPLE

by Deborah Hensel

Daily Cougar Staff

Don't make the mistake of thinking that Used People is "just another women's movie" because it has a great ensemble cast playing strong female characters.

Think of it as a great screenplay about life and love that doesn't need car chases, exploding buildings and male superstars in trigger-happy buddy roles to succeed.

Young British director Beeban Kidron makes her feature film debut with a sure winner in the same vein as Moonstruck, Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias.

Used People, starring Academy Award Best Actress-winners Shirley MacLaine, Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, is a three-ring circus, romantic comedy about three generations of women in Queens in 1969.

Pearl Berman, played by MacLaine, is a woman who gets picked up at her husband's funeral by the very man who saved her marriage 23 years earlier.

Marcello Mastroianni is Joe, the smooth-talking suitor who glibly quotes Shakespeare and Charlie Chaplin to break down Pearl's reserve.

The story of a middle-aged widow getting a second chance at love hasn't been this comical since MacLaine went joyriding with Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment.

The film's fun starts at the funeral when Joe's overtures to Pearl cause shockwaves in her wildly dysfunctional Jewish family.

Senior-citizen comedy comes easily to Tandy in the role of Freida, Pearl's cantankerous mother. Watching her daughter learn to live again prompts her to do the same.

Bates plays Bibby, the overweight daughter who can't cut the apron strings that tie her to an emotionally-abusive mother. Bibby also learns that "it's never too late to make your life like you see it in your head."

Norma, the other daughter, tries to force a fantasy life like she sees it in the movies.

By taking on a multitude of celebrity personas -- Streisand, Monroe, Jackie Kennedy -- she attempts to bury her grief for a child lost to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Her funniest moment comes in the guise of Anne Bancroft in her Mrs. Robinson role from The Graduate. With great material from screenwriter Todd Graff, newcomer Marcia Gay Harden just about steals the show from her Oscar-winning co-stars.

Although there may have been a lack of Best Actress contenders in 1992, Used People certainly offers some possibilities for 1993.

 

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

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

 

ORDINARY OBJECTS ARE EXTRAORDINARY WORKS OF ART

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

They work with simple forms and shapes, such materials as plaster, and even lampshades.

On the sculpture spectrum, they lean more towards the simplicity of Christo than the detail of Auguste Rodin.

Nevertheless, the Houston-based artists whose work is featured in the 3-D "Rupture" exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Museum have carved their own niche.

The four-person exhibit, which runs until March 7, includes the works of Dave Darraugh, Sharon Engelstein, Annette Lawrence and Joseph Havel.

One of the most striking works in the exhibit is Lawrence's Rock Writing. To create the work, she arranged lava rocks and limestone, spelling "They Must Don't Know Who We Are."

One of her friends uttered the grammatically incorrect phrase while waiting for a table in a restaurant. The phrase lessened the tension in the air and has remained etched in her memory. Although simple, the work is appealing because it -- like Ross Perot's "you people" remark -- could encourage a dialogue about the sameness and uniqueness of people.

Darraugh, whose five works make simpler statements, takes the minimalist approach by using as few materials as possible to achieve a desired effect.

He used such materials as hydrostone, rebar, plaster, and found objects including wood and straw. Decking Spikes is one of his best featured works in the show. He hung two spikes, one gray and one white, from the wall. The hanging spikes bear a resemblance to victims of lynching. It is simple, but effective.

Havel's works, two of which are placed on the floor, consist of bound objects. Spore of Silence, Germ of Gossip is a mixed media work that features connected lamp shades.

The work of Engelstein is like a magnet that draws the patron closer. At first glance, her untitled floor piece seems too simple in its rendering. Upon closer inspection, however, the viewer finds a more complicated work. The gray prosthetic eyes she attached to all of the pieces help her convey a strong message about inanimate objects that have human characteristics.

The exhibit would have been much stronger had more works been included. In terms of presentation, a darker background would have provided a nice contrast to the works, most of which are washed in such shades as white and ivory.

Nevertheless, the works of Havel, Lawrence, Engelstein, and Darraugh are strong because collectively, they make a statement about sculptors who aren't afraid to push the envelope. Their statement is simple: sculpture has no limits.

Visit The Daily Cougar