REGENTS APPROVE UHPD PAY RAISE

by Michica N. Guillory

Daily Cougar Staff

The Board of Regents approved a new salary plan Feb. 17 for UHPD which includes individual salary adjustments, incentives to remain on the force and higher starting salaries.

The new compensation program went into effect Monday, with entry-level annual salaries for officers increased to $23,500 from $20,693.

Based on a UHPD report, entry-level officers will now receive higher starting salaries than those with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro), Texas Medical Center, Rice University, UH-Clear Lake and UH-Downtown.

In the past, UHPD lost officers to these departments because it was unable to compete with their salary scales, but with the new compensation program, UH will be better equipped to compete for quality personnel, said UHPD Lt. Malcolm Davis.

By having commissioned officers more inclined to remain at the university, the annual turnover rate of at least eight officers will decrease, he added.

Before the raise, UH police officers received the lowest annual salaries of the 11 other college and university police departments studied by UHPD, which include UH-Downtown, UH-Clear Lake, Rice University, San Jacinto, Texas Southern, Alvin Community College, Texas A&M-Galveston, Houston Community College, Houston Baptist, College of the Mainland and the University of Texas Medical Center.

According to an executive summary presented to the Board of Regents, the plan requires $54,233 annually to fund implementation; the money is being derived from three vacant officer positions which have now been eliminated.

The original number of commissioned officers, set at 40, has now been reduced to 37, and not all of these positions received pay increases.

Nine positions will maintain their current annual salaries: four administrators, two supervisors, two corporals and one officer.

"No one was fired because of the raises," Davis said. "We kept the three positions vacant in anticipation of the raises so we are acclimated to working without them."

Some positions, including corporals, sergeants, lieutenants and chiefs, did not receive pay increases because their original pay levels were already above the new starting levels.

"We (UHPD) originally asked for across-the-board raises, but we decided it didn't address the retention issue," Davis said.

For commissioned police officer positions, there is a built-in step program based on longevity with UHPD.

"After the first six months, officers will be eligible for a raise and then so on for each year after that," Davis said. "Corporals start at a five-year officer's pay, and there are other starting rates for the other positions."

 

PLANNING COUNCIL PROPOSES FORCED EARLY RETIREMENT

by Kristine Fahrenholz

Daily Cougar Staff

The University Planning and Policy Council concluded reviewing academic component analyses Monday by tossing around the idea of mandatory early retirement.

"We need to force faculty to retire," said UH Law Center Dean Robert Knauss.

Dean Harrell Rodgers of the College of Social Sciences agreed. "We ought to think about early retirement. The issue of retirement is a psychological issue, but many faculty would be better off financially if they retired."

This and other proposals were made as part of the university-wide restructuring plan.

College of Pharmacy Dean Mustafa Lokhandwala said a new location in the Texas Medical Center would be a beneficial move for the college, currently located in Science and Research Building II.

Lokhandwala also said plans for a new professional pharmacy degree have started, and the new curriculum for the degree will be approved in May.

Integrating the UH Law Center into the university was also discussed by UPPC members.

"There should be more joint efforts to work on structural support," said UPPC member Judy Myers, who represents UH Libraries.

"We need more efforts in environmental law and internationalization," Knauss added.

"We need to improve the curriculum and research areas of environmentalism. We also need more environmental law faculty," he said.

Law Professor and UPPC Chairman Stephen Huber said Houston is a prime location for practicing environmental law.

Downsizing undergraduate enrollment by 35 to 40 students without expanding the center was another idea generated by UPPC.

"Things are going to be tight for quite awhile. The university will have to have a new workload policy on campus," Rodgers said. "If we suffer more cutbacks, then we'll have to teach the faculty to teach more students."

Glenn Aumann, the senior vice-president for Academic Affairs/Provost, who will be writing the UH plan from the UPPC reviews along with President James Pickering, sat in at the meeting.

The UPPC will start reviewing the university's administrative component in April.

 

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SUPERPOWER MISSION

U.S./RUSSIAN SHUTTLE-FLIGHT MEMBERS TRAIN AT UH

by Kristine Fahrenholz

Daily Cougar Staff

Two U.S. astronauts and two Russian cosmonauts met at the UH Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center Tuesday for a special training session geared toward experiments to be performed on NASA's November shuttle mission.

Astronauts Ronald M. Sega, Franklin R. Chang-Diaz and cosmonauts Col. Vladimir G.Titov and Sergei K. Krikalev attended SVEC's meeting to learn about the ultra-thin film materials to be grown on mission STS-60, which will carry five astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut to conduct experiments on ultra-pure thin film materials growth.

"There are no military secrets," said Mark Sterling, program manager of the Wake Shield Facility, a free-flying, 12-foot-in-diameter, stainless-steel disc, which will generate a vacuum environment in space for growing ultra-thin film materials. Researchers said these materials will contribute to advancing electronics technology such as computers, lasers and superconductivity.

Sterling said these astronauts and cosmonauts are the cream of the crop and are here to work. "They (the astronauts) are undergoing a crash course in learning about the experiments, and the cosmonauts are adjusting to culture shock," he said.

Titov and Krikalev have been in the United States since August working on the mission and will remain here until the completion of November's shuttle flight.

Only one cosmonaut will be aboard the shuttle mission. "But because of the ambitious schedule, it remains an option to send both cosmonauts up," Sterling said.

According to Swenson, there will be 14 additional training sessions for the crew.

Tuesday's training session included a general background of the experiments, safety procedures and actual work in the "clean rooms," which are areas unable to withstand microscopic particles due to the efforts of growing ultra- pure, thin-film crystals, said Bob Keith, laboratory manager at SVEC.

Sterling said the experiments will be done on the third day of the eight-day shuttle mission.

The funding is in place for SVEC's role in the mission -- under $13 million, Sterling said, which is remarkably cheaper than earlier project proposals at or around $100 million.

The project will not be impacted by any federal cuts; however, future plans could be threatened by proposed cuts in the space program, Sterling added.

With each of the five flights planned, more of the ultra-thin film materials will be produced.

The first mission is experimental, and if the materials are successfully grown, then with each flight, more materials will be grown, Sterling said.

Mass production of the thin- film materials is the goal, but won't happen until the fifth flight, he added.

Cuts could affect future flights because new facilities need to be constructed for longer periods of time in space, Sterling said.

SVEC Director Alex Ignatiev said, "This is a partnership between industry, government and academia, with NASA headquarters as the principal funding center."

Between 50 and 100 Johnson Space Center/NASA employees will assist as the payload operations working group.

At SVEC, there are 65 personnel -- half undergraduate and half graduate students -- working on the program, Ignatiev said.

The crew will also consist of Charles F. Bolden Jr., who will command mission STS-60, and pilot Kenneth S. Reightler Jr.

 

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NATIVE HOUSTONIAN WRITES FOR THE MASSES

by Sally Pouncy

Daily Cougar Staff

Houston playwright Thomas Meloncon visited UH Tuesday to discuss his work and the direction African-American theater is taking in this country.

Co-sponsored by the Houston Suitcase Theater (a UH student group) and the English Department, Meloncon addressed questions ranging from how to get a play published, to his opinion about the changes in black theater in the last three years.

A native Houstonian, Meloncon grew up in the Fifth Ward and began his writing career in the early '70s as a poet, but soon he began turning his poems into plays and producing them in local theaters. The theaters his plays ran in were community buildings that "were not even real theaters, if you could call folding chairs and a platform a theater," he said.

Meloncon claims he was one of the first playwrights to make his works available to the masses. He would walk out of the theater, grab people and ask them to come see the play. The plays were free, so people would come in and watch, he said. "Many of the people were redefining the black theater, and we (Meloncon and other playwrights) wanted to make plays accessible to everyone," Meloncon said.

Today, he is one of the people redefining black theater, and his plays can be seen by people all over the country. Currently, he has two shows touring the country, <i>Whatever Happened to Black Love<p> and his Broadway hit,<i> Diary of Black Men<p> .

His plays deal mostly with the problems and solutions to the relationship between African-American males and females. UH English Professor Elizabeth Brown-Guillory thinks Meloncon's desire to show the pain and how to heal it makes him a great playwright. "It is not enough to show how we've been battered, but how we heal and make sense of the chaos," she said.

Meloncon has a unique way of getting the audience involved with his plays; he literally puts them on stage. <i>Whatever Happened to Black Love<p> has audience members picked as jurors in a trial between African-American males and females. The audience literally decides the ending of the play.

He said the reason he writes plays with such extensive audience interaction stems from growing up in a black Baptist church. "It is part of our culture; the idea of participation stems from what I learned in church. You have got to say 'Amen' in a black Baptist church."

Meloncon wants people to learn something from his plays. The recent death of his sister from breast cancer spurred him to write a play about an African-American woman afraid to have a cancer examination. The purpose behind this play is to get minority women to be concerned about breast cancer and to have themselves examined for it, Meloncon said.

As for new plays, Meloncon has several in his head, and one will be opening in Austin in a few weeks.

 

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SAFEGUARDS TAKEN TO PREVENT ELECTION FRAUD

by David Sikes

Daily Cougar Staff

Thirty-five poll workers will be out in force at eight locations to ensure that today's Students' Association elections come off without a hitch.

Seventy candidates are vying for 36 SA positions today, and Election Commissioner Ron Capehart expects a good turnout.

"If all the poll workers show up, it should go pretty smoothly," Capehart said.

Polls will be open from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. Capehart's job will be to keep the polls supplied with ballots and to field complaints, he said.

Last year's elections were marred by election code violations, the most serious infraction being ballot-stuffing, which resulted in the president-elect being disqualified.

"This year, we've seen better, more organized and cleaner campaigns than last year," Capehart said.

As of Tuesday, 18 campaign complaints have been filed. Capehart said that about 26 complaints were filed during last year's campaigns.

Most of this year's complaints pertain to posting violations, he added, as several posters and fliers were found in undesignated areas. Capehart said some campaign material was illegally removed but that it was difficult to prove who was responsible.

"The way we're doing the balloting this year, it will be hard to violate the rules," he said.

The main difference voters will see is locked, metal ballot boxes. Last year, no locks were used on the cardboard boxes. The ballot holes in the boxes were large enough for someone's hand, and partisan poll workers were able to stuff the cardboard boxes with ballots, Capehart said.

This year's boxes are more secure with smaller holes. The poll workers were screened by Capehart and his staff to guard against any special interests.

 

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BOOKSTORES COMPETE FOR STUDENTS' CASH

by Kelechi Osuji

News Reporter

Two bookstores, one problem: finding the best prices.

Barnes and Noble is located on campus while Rothers Bookstore is located across the street from campus. There is a slight difference in the prices of their merchandise.

Rothers General Manager Cheryl Dunham said, "The publishers set the prices for the new books, and the prices should be standard."

Barnes and Noble General Manager Gerard Maloney said new books are sold to students for 20 percent more than the suggested list price, which is what the publishers charge the bookstore.

The two stores have different methods of pricing used books. "Used texts are priced at 25 percent less than the selling price of a new text," Maloney said.

Dunham said Rothers' pricing system was similar to Barnes and Noble, "but for the (high demand) books, we will price them the same as the semester before, even if the publisher goes up on their prices."

She also said when calculating text prices, Rothers employees can tell the computer to either round up or down the prices.

"When you look at the total program, there isn't a significant savings," Maloney said.

"We price according to our contract with UH. Rothers is an outside private (business). They can do whatever they want. They don't have total responsibility to the university; they don't pay rent."

Rothers can afford to play pricing games because they don't have nearly the overhead Barnes and Noble has, Maloney said.

"They react to our prices," he said.

Whether Rothers reacts or not, Dunham said, "They try to keep their prices fair."

Both bookstores participate in the 50 percent buy-back program. They both say this program is an effort to keep text prices down.

Maloney said Barnes and Noble has more volume than Rothers.

"Rothers can never order what we do. They don't have the space we do," he said.

The two bookstores also differ in their service. Barnes and Noble operates on a self-service basis while Rothers is a full-service business.

"Students like to stand there while you bring them everything they need," Dunham said. "We try to tell them what is required, and what is optional. If we make a mistake, we will give them their money back within the refund period," she said, adding that their system is good because students like to get their books and go.

Maloney disagreed. "A lot of students don't want someone else picking their books out for them, especially the used books. Students like looking around."

He said Barnes and Noble has a color-coded system which helps students find their way around.

"The white cards are for required books, the yellow cards are for recommended books and the blue cards are for optional books," he said.

Students have different opinions on which bookstore is better.

"In Barnes and Noble, you have to know where everything is to find a book. Rothers is somewhat easier because of their counter system," said Emem Akpaffiong, a sophomore chemistry major.

Mfon Ukpanah, a sophomore computer science major, said, " I think prices at Barnes and Noble are reasonable, and the store is convenient."

Both bookstores try to hire students. Maloney said, "In hiring students, we keep the money within the school community."

 

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FLYING HIGH

by Ryan Carssow

Daily Cougar Staff

Things they are a changin' in Southwest Conference baseball.

After years of being a doormat for the more prominent baseball programs in the SWC, the No. 22 Rice Owls have adopted a "No More Mr. Nice Guy" attitude.

"I think we have the talent to do something this year," Rice's second year head coach Wayne Graham said. "It's just a matter of everybody else seems to have the talent."

With four nationally-ranked teams, in what could be the strongest SWC baseball field in years, the Owls (14-2) are serious contenders this season.

"Right now it looks like the strongest conference in the country," Graham said.

Last season's 29-26 record and fifth place SWC finish was just a warm up for Graham (603-139 career record) who is used to success after five national championships in 11 seasons at San Jacinto Junior College.

Entering the season, Graham wanted to improve the team's hitting to complement a pitching staff that ranks second in the conference with a 3.18 team ERA.

Through the first 13 games of the season, the Owls have a team batting average of .354 (103 points higher than last year's .251 mark) and have already surpassed their 1992 total with 17 home runs.

A collection of newcomers and the holdovers' improved performance have fueled the Owls' offense.

The Owls' center fielder is a freshman from Bellaire, whose name should sound familiar to Houston baseball fans. Jose Cruz Jr., son of the former Astros All-star, is batting .385 with a team best 24 RBIs and four home runs (second best in the SWC).

Senior first baseman, Kennedy Glasscock is having his best season to date, batting .412 with 22 RBIs.

"He's come a long way as a hitter particularly, he's driving the ball pretty well," Graham said. "He's meant a great deal to our run production."

Returning corner outfielders, senior Jason Choate and junior Donald Aslaksen have significantly improved their offensive output since transferring from San Jac last year with Graham.

Sophomore, Chris Boni (team best .429) teams with Blinn JC transfer David Brooks (.354) to anchor the middle infield.

Rice quarterback Bert Emanuel (.371 six steals) takes the place of departed sport star Donald Allen. Allen's speed will be missed but Emanuel should help to replace his fleet feet.

One thing the Owls are not missing from last season is pitching. Rice returned seven pitchers from the third best staff (3.39 team ERA) in the SWC last year, including All-SWC junior, Darrell Richardson.

The undersized (5-9, 170 pounds) Richardson used his right arm with tremendous success last season, compiling a 2.92 ERA and 10-6 record.

"He's a very intense competitor. He's got good stuff," Graham said.

This season, Richardson again teams up with senior right-hander, Marcus Nalepa and junior southpaw, Bo Johnson in the starting rotation. Through the first 16 games, the group has amassed three wins each.

"It's hard to determine who's the best team in the conference right now," Graham said. "Who even the best three are."

With the pitching staff's return to their form of last year and improved run production, Rice is as good bet to be one of those top three or four teams.

 

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SERIOUS OWLS HOPE TO TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS AGAINST HOT COUGARS

by Adam King

Daily Cougar Staff

When Rice coach Willis Wilson talked about the Owls' game against Houston tonight at Autry Court, not a trace of emotion broke the surface of his face.

It's not that he's cold-hearted or doesn't care what happens on the court. Wilson is a man who projects a taking-care-of-business attitude and instills the same mentality in his players. Celebration can wait until the season has ended.

Rice's biggest game of the season took place Saturday when the Owls beat conference leader Southern Methodist in The Jungle. The Mustangs left 90-67 losers and in a tie for first with Rice.

Wilson described what the game meant to his team.

"It was an emotional game for SMU. It wasn't an emotional game for us," Wilson said. "It was an intense game, and there's a big difference between intensity and emotion. We've prided ourselves all year long on playing hard and competing. (The team) comes ready to play," he said.

Two games remain before the Southwest Conference regular season comes to a close. Rice's destiny is in its own hands, Houston's is not.

If the Owls, 16-7 (10-2), beat Houston tonight and Texas A&M Saturday, they will grab the SWC title. The Cougars, on the other hand, need some help. Rice and SMU must lose their remaining games. Baylor must beat Texas Tech for Houston, 18-6 (8-4), to have a shot at the title and the No. 1 seed in the SWC tournament.

Houston is riding a seven-game winning streak and has scored more than 75 points in each victory, a plateau it failed to reach during its four-game slide.

"Teams change from week to week," Houston coach Pat Foster said. "As the season goes on, we'd like to think we're getting better. That's based on recent past performances, of course."

Tonight's game will showcase two much-improved teams from when they last met.

Houston point guard Anthony Goldwire had barely recovered from the flu when Rice took a 65-61 victory in Hofheinz Pavilion. He had 11 points, one rebound and two assists in 31 minutes.

But during Houston's recent win streak, Goldwire has averaged 15.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, seven assists and 39 minutes.

When asked if Houston will enter Autry Court a different team from when Rice last saw them, Wilson said: "I'm sure they will be. They're very eager. Two good basketball teams going head to head; it's going to be a good match-up."

Rice is 8-0 and is averaging 82.4 points at Autry Court this season. In contrast, Houston has averaged 77.7 points on the road.

 

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WISE LADY COOGS TO TAKE ON OWLS

by Heather Ellis

Daily Cougar Staff

It ain't over 'til it's over.

To quote ex-Astro coach and philosopher Yogi Berra, this phrase of infinite wisdom is the Lady Cougars' motto.

After a week off, the Cougars hope to put an end to their five-game losing streak tonight against the Rice Lady Owls. Game time is set for 5 p.m. at Hofheinz Pavilion.

The Cougars enter the face off with a 10-14 overall record and a 4-8 mark in the Southwest Conference. They occupy the sixth place spot in the SWC.

If practice is any indication, the Cougars should be prepared for the Owls, who are in seventh place in the SWC.

"We seem to be pretty focused during practice," coach Jessie Kenlaw said. "We have to finish our next two games strong and play like we are capable of."

Capability wasn't a problem the first time the Owls and the Cougars faced off. The Cougars defeated the Owls, 63-56.

Since that game, the Owls record has declined. They have an even 12-12 overall record, but their SWC record is lopsided at 2-10.

The end is not quite in sight for the Cougars. Coach Kenlaw views the season in three parts, with each part of the season important in different ways.

"Our season consists of pre-season play conference, conference play and post-season play," coach Kenlaw said. "Our conference play isn't over yet, and we are going to take it one step at a time. The team knows what they are capable of."

With the SWC tournament right around the corner, post- season play could be the Cougars' bright spot in the season.

"Hopefully, it will all come together for us at the tournament," Kenlaw said.

With only two games remaining in the SWC, the Cougars will rely on the veteran experience of senior post Margo Graham, forward Andi Jackson and forward Stephanie Edwards to give the Cougars a push toward the tournament.

 

 

 

 

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