by Heather Wolk

Daily Cougar Staff

According to UH records, President James Pickering's former receptionist, Gwendolyn Mathis, owed $900 to the university in bounced checks before she resigned.

Students, deans, administrators and heads of departments are among those contributing to an $800,000 debt from bounced checks, according to UH records.

One student was able to write 43 bad checks at the university without being prosecuted.

Phyllis Bradley, the university's bursar, said it is possible to write dozens of consecutivebad checks and have them go unnoticed for weeks.

"We send the checks to the bank. If they bounce, they are redeposited. The debit memo can take 10 to 15 working days to get back to us," Bradley said.

Students can go to class for an entire semester before a bad check for tuition catches up with them because those checks are not considered debt until the end of the semester.

Students aren't penalized until they try to enroll again because they then have a delinquent debt record, Bradley said.

There are five check-cashing locations on campus where one check may be cashed per day. Students can cash up to $50, employees $100.

"I guess it's possible to go to each place and cash a number of checks. If someone cashed, say, five checks at each location, they could bounce 25 checks, and we wouldn't know it for up to two weeks," Bradley said.

Employees also have the option to pay for parking stickers on an installment plan, which can be paid for by check; that current debt is in excess of $1,500.

According to UH records, one former student owes $4,250, and six employees owe more than $1,000 for parking tickets alone.

Collecting the debt, regardless of its size, has been an ongoing effort, according to Dennis Boyd, senior vice president of administration and finance. When a student or employee bounces a check, he or she will receive phone calls, letters and a stop on their accounts.

If there is no response, an internal collection agency will attempt to collect.

If that fails, the delinquent debt is sent to an outside agency.

If there is still no response, the debt is referred to the university legal counsel to await legal action, Bradley said.

Joe Williams, the assistant university counsel for the UH system, said debt the university has failed to collect after two years is written off the receivable debts record, debts which will not be recovered unless the debtors attempt to enroll or become financially involved with the university again, Williams said.

"Most debtors will respond to legal notice, and those who do not will be taken to court," Williams said.

The UH administration has announced that as a cost-saving measure, it will begin to phase out the check-cashing service as more banking services become available on campus.






by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

UH System representatives met Tuesday at a Board of Regents meeting to determine what paths university communities can take to avoid further suffering as casualties of the higher education crisis.

The university will suffer a 3 percent decrease in general revenue appropriations made by the Texas Legislature, which represents a $3.8 million decrease based on annual, level-funding allocations.

"Obviously, what has happened is that this Legislature continues the trend of shifting responsibility for financing higher education back to the institutions themselves, including their students," said UH System Chancellor Alexander Schilt.

The Board of Regents met to discuss how the UH System's best interests should be considered.

Higher-education funding, the topic discussed most frequently and with fervor, dominated the first of eight parts of the agenda.

Students' Association President Russell Hruska mentioned the 65th anniversary of the university, but challenged regents and other officials to work closely with students to keep the institution away from the budget ax, which threatens to hack some programs away.

Hruska stressed the importance of equity in funding among state universities. Of the 19 members who sit on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, half have affiliations with the University of Texas and Texas A&M -- two schools that reap the benefits of having access to the Permanent University Fund (PUF).

"It's time for Austin to wake up and make a commitment to students," Hruska said. He also said performance-based funding should be based more on individual institutions' missions than on standard criteria.

Schilt reiterated the point in his address: "Regarding performance-funding, we have always favored a system that provided incentives for each institution to improve performance in light of its mission, rather than a system that simply used the status quo to distribute monies in a new way."

In his first report of 1993, Schilt expressed his concern about the state of higher education. "The fact that we are not educating enough of our people well enough is indisputable, but there is little agreement on how to improve performance. For years, educators have argued that improved performance hinges primarily on increased funding," he wrote.

"Lately, however, many people with a deep commitment to learning have become increasingly skeptical that money alone will produce higher achievement. It is increasingly apparent that both the means and the will to increase educational appropriations are diminishing."

Lee Hogan, executive chair of the Creative Partnerships Campaign, a project that has fund- raising for university departments as its main objective, said UH has reached $172 million of its $263 million goal. The six-year fund-raising drive for the entire system is $350 million.

The School of Music, which is being positioned as one of the premier programs to be offered by the university, stands to benefit the most from the campaign.

Construction will eventually begin on an $18.5 million facility, which will have been made possible in part by a $10.2 million gift by John and Rebecca Moores, who made a precedent-setting donation of $51 million during the first half of 1992.

Of the programs for which funds are being raised, the School of Music is the closest to reaching its goal, with 80 percent of its $20.2 million goal met. The period of solicitation extends until August 1995.

At the meeting, the regents also made official their approvals for an Intellectual Property Law degree that is to be offered by the UH Law Center. They also approved a compensation program for commissioned police personnel and a land-acquisition proposal.






by David Sikes

Daily Cougar Staff

Presidential candidate Eric DeBeer of the Vision party has dropped out of the Students' Association election, according to Chief Election Commissioner Ron Capehart.

However, DeBeer's running mate, Michelle Palmer, said she knows nothing about it.

"I don't know that Eric's not running. I don't know what's going on. I think he would have at least told me if he weren't running," Palmer said.

A withdrawal letter with DeBeer's name on it was found in the election commissioner's box late last week.

Jason Fuller, the SAIL party presidential candidate, said he saw DeBeer write the letter of withdrawal in Fuller's office Feb 11. According to Fuller, Mitch Rhodes, the SA student regent, also witnessed DeBeer write the letter.

Capehart said the letter looks authentic, and the signature looks like DeBeer's, but it is not certain who dropped off the letter.

DeBeer was under suspicion by the election commissioner and SAIL party candidates for allegedly filing a phony candidate application for SA president Feb. 10.

The application was a forgery, according to Daniel Roque-Jackson, whose name was on the form. Roque-Jackson says he knew nothing about the application or the election.

Capehart, unable to reach DeBeer, did reach Greg Wythe, DeBeer's official representative listed on DeBeer's candidate application.

After Wythe confirmed DeBeer's withdrawal over the phone, he was officially withdrawn.

"He decided to drop out because he thought he was in enough trouble over the phony SAIL application. Apparently, DeBeer is the one who forged it. That's what he told me," Wythe said.

Fuller said he was prepared to file an official complaint with the election commission against DeBeer and the Vision party about the phony application.






by Meagan McGovern

Daily Cougar Staff

AUSTIN -- Students, administrators, faculty and legislators chatted amiably at a reception for UH President James Pickering Tuesday night, but every conversation had distinct undercurrents of the critical state of higher-education funding.

UH System Chancellor Alexander Schilt, who spoke at the reception sponsored by the UH Alumni Organization, said he realizes the state has many financial priorities, but if people aren't being educated, "the future of the state of Texas is at risk."

Schilt said the jury is still out as to whether Texas will be considered first-rate or third-world.

Pickering, clearly addressing his remarks to the state legislators who will be making difficult budget decisions soon, hammered home UH's strong points.

He said UH is "special" and talked about its "important place in higher education" as well as the school's aspirations to be "a model in urban areas."

Pickering commended the 38 students who arrived as part of a bus trip sponsored by the Students' Association. "We have students who care about UH," he said.

Pickering also said the number of National Merit scholars at UH, for the seventh year in a row, was in the top 10 for public universities. "But if we had the money to accept every merit student who wanted to come to UH, we'd be in the top 15 in the country (public and private)," he said.






by Heather Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

It was Tony Barone's worst nightmare.

Barone's Aggies suffered a 27-point loss at the healthy hands of the Cougars, who solidly whipped the Aggies 78-51 at Hofheinz Pavilion Wednesday.

Charles "Bo" Outlaw scored his first triple-double ever, placing 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in the record books. David Diaz poured 29 points into the Cougars' basket -- 12 of those being treys.

Pat Foster, on the other hand, is having nothing but sweet dreams.

"We had our best game all year at Tech on Saturday." coach Pat Foster said. "I think we played just as well tonight. We were healthy, we had intensity and everybody was alive."

The Cougars, 15-6, improved their Southwest Conference record to 6-4, good enough for a third-place tie with Baylor, who lost to the Rice Owls at Autry Court 84-77 Wednesday.

With the exception of the last five minutes of the first half, in which the Houston defense sagged, the Cougars took control of the game.

Houston's swarming defense held the Aggies, 7-14 (2-7), to just 20 points at halftime and enabled the Cougars to head to the locker room with a six-point lead.

"Houston is playing like a NCAA team," Aggie coach Tony Barone said. "I'm impressed with their defense; it is excellent. They dominated us tonight."

When the teams trotted back onto the hardwood, the Cougars kept the Aggies from scoring more than seven points for the first six minutes of the second half.

Forward Lance Broderson, who had the Aggie high score of 21 points, was under the basket fighting for the ball with Rafael Carrasco with 10:03 remaining and the Aggies down 54-32.

Coach Barone saw a foul. The officials didn't.

Barone vehemently protested to the officials for not calling the foul and was subsequently called for a technical and ejected.

"There is absolutely no question our kid got smacked in the head, and it should have been called," Barone said. "I shouldn't have gotten mad at the officials.

Diaz went to the line for the Cougars and sank three out of four.

As it became apparent the Cougars were pulling farther away from the Aggies, Foster put in his bench players.

Lloyd Wiles, Jermaine Johnson and Angel Sanz saw significant action in the game, contributing eight points from the bench.

With three minutes left in the game, the Cougars slacked off on defense, but it certainly wasn't enough to give the Aggies a chance to catch up.






by Ryan Carssow

Daily Cougar Staff

From the opening tip to the final seconds of the game, Charles "Bo" Outlaw dominated Texas A&M Wednesday night.

The UH center recorded the first triple-double of his career and the first for a Cougar since Hakeem Olajuwon on March 11, 1984.

Outlaw finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. The rebounds and blocks are very similar to Olajuwon's statistics for his last college triple-double. Olajuwon had 20 points, 11 boards and 10 blocks against Arkansas nine years ago.

"It's an honor being compared to an NBA player," said a modest Outlaw, who also put his name in the record books with the 10 blocks, which set a career-high for Outlaw and put him in the all-time Cougar Top 10 for blocks in a single game.

Outlaw, who didn't realize either achievement until told by the media, attempted to downplay the accomplishment.

"I was in the right place," he said. "The ball was up, and it hit my hand. I guess I'll take credit for that."

A&M head coach Tony Barone had no problem with giving Outlaw the credit he earned with Wednesday's performance.

"Bo is as good as anybody in the country," Barone said. "He was a tremendous factor in the game."

Outlaw's six first-half blocks were a major factor in putting fear into the Aggies to start the second half. Head coach Pat Foster was also quick to point out the Cougars' exceptional team defense.

"They (the Aggies) obviously got disheartened to a point," Foster said of Outlaw's intimidation factor. "But we had very good defense. They couldn't get any good shots."

Foster compared Outlaw's performance against A&M with Saturday's Texas Tech game. Against the Red Raiders, Outlaw scored a career-high 28 points.

"He had equally as good a game or better as Saturday. He was really active."






by Jason Ramirez

Daily Cougar Staff

It is starting to become all too familiar for Lady Cougars coach Jessie Kenlaw: tough break -- tough loss. They seem to go hand- in-hand.

But after Wednesday's 73-72 loss to the Baylor Bears at Hofheinz Pavilion, Kenlaw was out of answers.

"I really don't know how this loss is going to affect us," she said. "We very well could have won this game, but we didn't make the plays when we had to in order to do that."

Trailing the Bears 63-46 with 9:20 left in the game, the Cougars, 10-11 (4-6), went on a 23-8 run that closed the gap to 71-69 with 10 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Houston fouled Baylor freshman Mary Lowery to stop the clock.

"During that time, we were playing our best basketball," said Cougar senior forward Andi Jackson, who led the way for Houston with 17 points on the night. "We were stopping them, but unfortunately, it was too little, too late."

After Lowery sank both charity shots, the Cougars' Antoinette Isaac threw up a desperation three-pointer that hit nothing but net at the buzzer.

"When we built up that (63-46) lead, I think we got a little laxed," said Baylor coach Pam Bowers. "We weren't playing our game, and it almost cost us."

However, during the first half, neither team was playing its game. Both teams shot a combined 30 percent from the field and committed a total of 29 turnovers as Baylor, 10-12 (5-5), settled for a 32-29 halftime lead.

"We were totally off during that first half," Kenlaw said. "We weren't ready to play, and our performance showed it."

Overall, Kenlaw felt her team's performance was "unacceptable" even though the Cougars did show some signs of life during the game's later moments.

"I felt the game as a whole was out of control for the most part," she said.






by Patti Warner

Daily Cougar Staff

Houston started another winning streak Wednesday as the Cougars (11-1) defeated Houston Baptist University (4-6) 10-3 at Cougar Field.

Wade Williams (2-0) made his third start for the Cougars, going five innings and giving up no runs and one hit. His seven strikeouts equalled a season-high for the Cougars.

"I had all my pitches working today," said Williams, who is recovering from elbow surgery he had last summer. "I still need a few more outings to be ready for conference (play)."

The Cougars got on the board early in the first inning when left fielder Brian Blair scored on a wild pitch by Huskie starter Jesse Kerr (1-3).

Kerr lasted 1 2/3 innings, giving up three hits, walking six, hitting two batters and giving up eight runs, six of them coming after first baseman John Ganz's error.

"We are still refining things," Houston coach Bragg Stockton said, referring to his team's three errors. "And that 6-7-8 slot in the pitching staff is still not there."

Houston reliever Greg Lewis came on in the sixth inning, pitching two innings and giving up three runs on two hits, three walks and one strikeout.

Freshman Brian Fojt pitched the final two innings for the Cougars, striking out two, giving up two hits and hitting a batter.

The Cougar hurlers set a new season-high in strikeouts with 11.

The Cougars added another run in the sixth inning as center fielder Chris Scott walked, then stole second base, scoring on pinch-hitter Kirk Taylor's single to left.

Houston added another unearned run in the eighth inning after Joe Betters doubled to right field, advancing to third on a groundout, then scoring on Huskie second baseman Craig Cegielski's error.

Houston hits the road Friday to play in the UT-Pan American Valley Tournament this weekend.

Cougar opponents in the tournament will be UT-Pan American and Prairie View A&M.

Houston returns home Tuesday to host the Lamar Cardinals.







by Joanna Davila

Contributing Writer

Galveston kicked off a huge Mardi Gras party last weekend and is getting ready to draw in an even bigger crowd this time around.

Using Broadway as this year's theme, Galveston's Mardi Gras festival keeps growing each year, attracting more and more visitors.

According to a Galveston Visitor's Bureau Representative, Mardi Gras drew almost 800,000 people in its second weekend last year and is expected to match that number this year.

Among the party-goers are UH students, including Tonja Jiga, a senior psychology major, who said she goes to Galveston almost every year.

"I try not to miss Mardi Gras because it gives me a chance to get away from the everyday grind of work and school," she said.

John Mohabbat, a junior finance major, enjoys going to Mardi Gras to meet new people.

"I like the fact that every time I go, I meet so many different people from different schools, and each year, the crowds seem to get larger," he said.

Along with the increase in attendance comes the increase in traffic and parking problems. Both KRBE and KZFX made it easier for some people to get to Mardi Gras by each sponsoring a bus trip to Galveston. Unfortunately, they both sold out within two weeks of their scheduled departures.

Nevertheless, parking and traffic problems will not stop students determined to find a good party, as UH students have found ways of getting around these problems by car-pooling and going in large groups.

"I plan on getting a large group of friends together, finding out who has the most spacious car and car-pooling to Galveston," said Ragnar Fleishmann, a freshman political science major.

"We try to take one car so we don't have to worry about losing any other cars with us. We also pitch in for gas and help out with the driving," Mohabbat said.

Students who have a place to stay in Galveston will be able to avoid Saturday traffic by leaving Friday.

"If you can find a place to spend the night, you don't have to sit in traffic all day Saturday, and you'll have more time to party," Jiga said.

As far as parking goes, Jiga suggests students bring along some comfortable walking shoes.

"It is very difficult to find a good parking space, so chances are you'll be walking quite a bit," she said.

For those unable to spend the night in Galveston, the City of Galveston Command Center said traffic will be heaviest on Saturday from about noon until 6 p.m. KGBC (1540 AM) in Galveston will be announcing traffic and parking updates Saturday.

Some students, unlike Mardi Gras veterans Jiga and Mohabbat, will be going to Mardi Gras for the first time.

Darral Watts, a junior computer science major, has never been to Mardi Gras.

"I am definitely looking forward to it. I am expecting it to be wild," Watts said.

For more information, call the Galveston Visitors Bureau at (800) 351-4236.




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