TEXAS AUDIT PRAISES UH SYSTEM'S PERFORMANCE

by Kevin Patton

Daily Cougar Staff

Amid the controversial fall '94 semester, which saw open dissension from some faculty, the Texas State Auditor's Office released an audit of the UH System's management controls, commending its improvement.

The October 1994 report indicates a much healthier System than many had anticipated, and when compared with the same audit of the Texas A&M System, UH looks like a 200-year-old system.

"Additionally, a financial analysis of the System components provided no indications that management was expending funds inappropriately," wrote state auditor Lawrence Alwin in a letter to the Legislative Audit Committee.

In fact, Alwin's letter praises the strengthened cohesiveness among System components, yet he does see areas for improvement, like assessing "processes and information within and among System components for consistency."

The audit itself refers to the 1992 strategic planning initiative, responsive reshaping, as that which "led the System to a more clearly defined and unified mission, and to a direction of standardization and centralization where possible."

However, responsive reshaping was met with heavy opposition at UH after it threatened to cut large amounts from academic programs, forcing some departments to dissolve majors and not hire new professors.

In 1993, when the System was hit with a crushing $8.5 million cut in state funding, even more cuts had to be considered.

But the tone of the audit, being just completed in October, signals that the UH System should continue with its efforts.

"The kudos had to do with the progress we have made," System Chancellor Alex Schilt said.

"The auditors had the entire scope of operations available to them. They conducted hundreds of interviews; they dealt with the deans; they asked to see previous reports; they read the papers.

"People on the outside were able to see that we perform in a high-quality manner," he added. "There are external certifications that indicate we have made progress."

Harrell Rodgers, former dean of the College of Social Sciences, whose firing last semester caused a veritable uprising against the administration, said that although the report was good, "our appearance of being able to handle the cuts and setbacks – instead of saying we're in trouble – actually hurts us.

"We struggle so hard to keep the basics running, it looked like we could absorb the cuts," he said.

 

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UH INSTITUTE TO FIGHT WORLD DISEASE

Cougar News Services

In helping to achieve the goals of the World Health Organization, the University of Houston Health Law and Policy Institute will help developing countries with prenatal care and assist in the battle against diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis.

The institute, based in the UH Law Center, has agreed to help 35 Western Pacific countries in drafting health laws, assisting countries in revising health care policies and identifying health problems.

"By helping to draft legislation involving issues such as AIDS, drug abuse, immunization, mental health, sanitation, and occupational and environmental health, we have the opportunity to improve the quality of life for literally millions of people," said Mark A. Rothstein, Health Law and Policy Institute director.

The institute will send a post-graduate law student to work at the WHO office in Manila, the Philippines, for six months.

The institute will identify law experts to work on specific health problems in specific areas of the world. It will also be in consultation with WHO to develop and draft health legislation and help organize a Health Law Conference in Australia set for later this year in addition to working with the U.S. State Department to plan visits for health officials from the Western Pacific.

"This agreement further solidifies our position as being one of the pre-eminent health law programs in the world," Rothstein said.

 

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UH HISTORY PROFESSOR FIRST RECIPIENT OF BIANNUAL H.L. MITCHELL AWARD

by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

UH associate history Professor Emilio Zamora has recently been awarded the H.L. Mitchell award for his book, <I>The World of the Mexican Worker in Texas<P>.

Zamora is the first recipient of the newly created award, named for a labor movement activist. The award is given biannually for books about the Southern working class.

The book studies the efforts of Mexican workers in Texas between the 1890s and 1930s to improve their living and working conditions through self-organization.

The book primarily deals with Mexican workers' "self-organization," Zamora said.

"Their impressive social movement of self-organization, ranging from informal unions and spontaneous strikes to (organized) mutual-aid societies and unions was partly in response to their difficult (living) conditions – discrimination, inequality and poverty.

"(The book) deals with various aspects of Mexican working-class life in Texas: where they worked, how much they earned, their problems and the influence on the political culture," Zamora said.

He added that when researching, he relied not only on the regular sources of information, like government documents and newspapers, but also on Spanish-language newspapers, union records, diplomatic records from Mexico and documents written in Spanish.

Zamora said the reason for his interest in the Mexican working class is that his own family lived during this period.

"I have traced my family on both sides to Mexican landowners," Zamora said. "Like many other Mexican landowners, they lost their lands. Thus, they were involved during this period.

"In fact, that's what made this book a personal quest for me. I am studying the experiences of my own relatives," he said.

Zamora has also received the T.R. Fehrenbach Book Award for the same book.

"Both awards are pretty prestigious," Zamora added. "I feel honored not only because they honor my personal work, but because they have acknowledged Mexican workers in Texas as an important subject."

Zamora is usually associated with two fields of history: the history of Mexicans in the United States, which he teaches on both graduate and undergraduate levels, and United States labor-class history, which he teaches on the graduate level.

Zamora is on a leave of absence for 1995. He was given a post-doctoral fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities. He now plans to work on his new book, which deals with the Mexican working class during World War II.

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SWC MEN'S, WOMEN'S RACES KNOTTED AT THE TOP

by William German

and Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

Those hoping for a preview of this year's Academy Award winners no doubt got some key questions answered this weekend at the Golden Globe ceremonies.

Basketball fans looking for answers to the Southwest Conference men's and women's races had no such luck.

Not to be rude, but assuming a Texas rout of Baylor Monday, the SWC men's standings will be governed by a four-headed beast, four different teams at 3-1, all with a crack at the title.

Texas and Texas Tech, the preseason favorites, enjoyed opposite fortunes Saturday. The Longhorns took it on the chin from Oklahoma 100-75 at the Sooners' place, while Tech blew out Southern Methodist at home 98-77.

Texas didn't lose any SWC ground with the loss, but missed a chance to crack the Top 25 and wow the NCAA selection committee. At one point in the first half, the Horns were up 32-19, but were badly in need of a Heimlich maneuver after UT point guard Roderick Anderson left the game with 6:45 left in the half.

Tech never let the Mustangs into their game, starting with an 18-0 burst and coasting from there. However, the victory over a weak team proved little for the Raiders, who are now 7-0 in Lubbock Memorial Coliseum, but a puny 1-6 away from the comforts of home.

The Rice-Texas Christian contest showcased the conference's two upstarts. Center Kurt Thomas again showed himself to be the key to TCU's success, hitting 15 of 25 shots and scoring 43 total points in the 102-93 Horned Frog triumph.

Rice has the worst overall record of the four first-place teams at 7-7, but has played a non-conference schedule rivaled only by Tech's. Their starting lineup appears to match up well against any other starting five in the conference.

Looking to climb out of the conference cellar, Houston dropped a close one to Texas A&M 73-68 to put the Cougars at 0-4 in the SWC. A&M is still in the race at 2-2.

On the women's side, No. 7 Tech continues to drive in cruise control. An 80-61 victory over Southern Methodist left the Raiders (4-0 in the SWC) as the only undefeated team in the conference.

The Raiders frontline trio of Michi Atkins, Connie Robinson and Tabitha Truesdale was once again the story as they combined for 43 points.

The Mustangs (1-3) held a 37-31 halftime lead, but, like the Cougars this weekend, they couldn't finish off their opposition.

Houston (1-3) held a 41-34 halftime lead over No. 22 Texas A&M (3-1) Saturday night only to fall 80-67 to forward Marianne Miller's 26 points and Lisa Branch's 17 second-half points.

Cougars' freshman forward Jennifer Jones led Houston with 17 points while center Rosheda Hopson pulled down 15 rebounds.

Texas has played three of its last four games without sophomore 3-point bomber Danielle Viglione, who is out of the Longhorn lineup with a bone stress injury in her right ankle.The top SWC scorer is to remain out of the lineup indefinitely.

However, UT welcomed back senior guard Nekeshia Henderson, who has been out all year with a thigh injury, Saturday. The Longhorns handedly defeated Baylor (1-3) 69-46 in Austin's Frank Erwin Center.

Henderson was rusty, as she was limited to 1-of-3 shooting and four points in just 11 minutes of action.

Nevertheless, the Longhorns are still 3-1 in the conference and have won four of five. They're tied for second in the SWC with Rice and A&M, who are both 3-1.

 

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UH GRAD STEERS HOUSTON INTO THE NEXT CENTURY

by Lady Oliver

Daily Cougar Staff

Imagine Houston, a group of prominent Houstonians met Saturday, Jan. 14 at the United Way Gulf Coast Building to create a vision statement and plan what will guide Houston into the next century.

"This is a city driven initiative. It affects where we live, work and play," Alysia Richards said. Richards is an Assistant Public Information Officer for the Planning and Development Department and a 1990 graduate from University of Houston's School of Communication. Richards said she was glad to see the citizens of Houston drive this project.

The 50 members of Imagine Houston Steering Committee began developing a document that will steer the city for the next 20 to 30 years.

"The people who are participating realize that shaping our community is the city's responsibility. These people are volunteers who care about this city and its future," Richards said.

The Planning and Development office facilitates the meetings and makes sure the volunteers have all they need. "The claim to fame belongs to the citizens who have volunteered countless hours," Richards said.

There are 10 citizen focus groups which consist of Learning for Life, Where We Work, Where We Live, Where We Meet, Community Safety, Taking Care of Ourselves, Fostering our Cultural Resources, Mining our Natural Resources, In Service to the Public and a youth focus group. These groups propose ideas as part of the city's long-range planning initiative launched by Mayor Bob Lanier in March of 1994.

In Saturday's meeting, the Steering Committee developed four themes to address Houston communities, neighborhoods, diversity, caring for each other and self-empowerment.

The theme of Urban Natural Resources will address the physical beauty of the city and the blending of the physical environment of an urban society with its natural resources.

Economic Competitiveness will address fostering cultural diversity, jobs, education and training. "I really like that this is drawn on a diverse group," Richards said.

The fourth theme looks toward the next generations' directing the youth, tomorrow's leaders.

The group is working to create a comprehensive plan that will be used for public policy and financial decision-making that will affect the public and private sectors.

The plan will be presented to the City Planning and Development Department, the City Council and the mayor this spring.

The committee's weekly meetings are open to the public and are equipped with facilities for the hearing impaired. They are also broadcast on a local municipal channel available through your cable company.

The meetings are held at 1801 Main St. in the annex building on the parking lot level.

For more information, call the 24-hour automated hot line at (713)754-9696.

 

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<I>MYSTERY<P> A HILARIOUS COMEDY

by Eric James

Daily Cougar Staff

The Alley Theatre's current production is a hilarious romp through Charles Ludlam's <I>The Mystery of Irma Vep<P>.

Full of corny one-liners, outrageous drag, and racy camp, <I>Irma Vep<P> is a joy to watch. The acting is superb, as are the sets and costumes. Nothing is too hammy or cheesy in this production.

Jeffrey Bean and John Feltch divide the seven characters in the play among themselves. Bean takes on the parts of Nicodemus Underwood, Lady Enid Hillcrest and Alcazar. John Feltch tackles the roles of Jane Twisden, the spunky housekeeper and Lord Edgar Hillcrest.

The plot is sheer madness. With quick costume changes and frantic entrances and exits, the two actors follow the mysteries that hide within the past of Mandacrest, the Hillcrests' grand estate upon the moors.

Lord Edgar Hillcrest cannot get over the death of his wife, Irma Vep, and enjoy his new marriage with Lady Enid. Enid tries to win over the friendship of Jane Twisden, then Mrs. Danvers of Mandacrest. Jane has trouble in the form of Nicodemus, a worker on the estate, who has a crush on her.

All the characters have intriguing secrets that lead the audience on a trip to Egypt and back to Mandacrest for a thrilling ending where all plots collide.The surprise in direction the play takes at each moment adds to the fun. You never know what the actors are going to say or do next.

The scenes in Egypt and the return to Mandacrest are a scream. The play's beginning is a bit slow, but the actors' changing constantly keeps your attention. The one-liners are endless, as is the camp. The play is full of hilarious antics and great physical humor. The two actors, playing multiple roles, add great fun, especially when one character asks to see another character played by the same actor.

Jeffrey Bean shines as Enid Hillcrest, but John Feltch steals the show as the icy Jane Twisden. The two actors perform beyond all expectations and never allow a dull moment. Each character is fresh and amusing, and Mr. Bean and Mr. Feltch allow themselves to run rampant in delightful no-holds-barred characters.

Director Michael Wilson does a superb job in his staging and in allowing the actors to go as far as they see fit, and believe me, they go far and beyond.

Caryn Neman's costumes are splendid fun. She keeps Jane looking grim, and Enid looking flaky. Each costume is true to the time period, and each uniquely befitting to each character. Newman should be commended for designing costumes that are so easily changeable, yet not blatantly so.

Jeff Cowie and Michael Lincoln round out this fine production with a set that allows plenty of open space for the actors to romp about, but gives a sense of realism without distracting from the performances.

<I>The Mystery of Irma Vep<P> is another splendid production put on by the Alley Theatre in a season that can seem to do no wrong. John Feltch and Jeffrey Bean are obviously two of the most gifted actors working in Houston today.

The play holds up the grand tradition that the author, Charles Ludlam, began in his <I>The Ridiculous Theatre in Greenwhich Village<P>. Michael Wilson sustains the author's desire for Gothic comedy and a campy production in which men play in drag and anything goes. It is a wonderful tribute to the playwright who died in 1987 of AIDS.

 

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INDUSTRIAL BAND RAPS, <I>AMIGOS<P>

 

by Frank San Miguel

Daily Cougar Staff

Once tagged England's most hated band, Pop Will Eat Itself forged a name as one of the first groups to blend hip-hop and industrial rock. On its return to recordingland, <I>Dos Dedos Mis Amigos<P>, the coupling continues.

In all honesty, PWEI is primarily a rock band which samples and tosses in raps. The samples come from television, old soul and clanging metal while the raps are done by PWEI members Clint Mansell and Graham Charles Crabb. When PWEI first started doing this sample and rap mixing, there was scorn galore.

Its ground-breaking recordings peaked in 1989, with <I>This is the Day, This is the Hour, This is This!<P>, and then the band sort of drifted. It was cut loose by its old label, RCA, after another record and a few singles.

The band-ahead-of-its-time-and-behind-in-payments story might have ended there if not for Nine Inch Nails' Trent Renzor, who tracked down the Brits and signed them to his own label, Nothing Records, for an American recording deal. The band stuck with a relative indie, Infectious, which is run by a former major-label honcho, for its European distribution.

On its new record, <I>Dos Dedos Mis Amigos<P>, PWEI seems to have lost shades of its former self, turning to overproduction and noise to maintain the music. Cuts like "Ich Bin Ein Auslander," about the current wave of far-right and neo-Nazi violence in Europe, are strong, but the remainder of the record is bloated by psuedo-industrial nuts and bolts. A strong band falls to the trance of the mixing board.

Of course, the high-tech hackings lend itself to bringing in elements of ambient and techno to the fold -- definitely potent considering PWEI's history -- but it never goes anywhere. The result is a record with lots of promise and even some new sounds, but nothing that matches its old work, and little that goes into the territory of adventurous.

It is great to see PWEI return on the scene with <I>Dos Dedos<P>. The band was among the forefathers of rap-rock-dance fusions so prevalent today. Perhaps the release is, like the band has been, ahead of its time, but it is doubtful.

 

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UPPC TACKLES SAFETY CONCERNS IN FLEMING

by Jennifer Smith

Daily Cougar Staff

The University Planning and Policy Council's first meeting of the semester included many proposals, one of which was a plea for a new science building by Don Elthon, chairman of the Chemistry Department, who questioned the Fleming Building's safety.

"I am deeply concerned about the safety of the Fleming Building. There are many problems associated with the storage of chemicals and gas cylinders ... We have had to send people home from work (because of an inadequate air-handling system),"

Elthon wrote of the need for a new science research building.

In other news, George Magner, director of the Self-Study program, said the recently revised Self-Study Plan is a guideline to reaffirm the basic mission and philosophy of UH.

"The purpose of the plan is to examine and assess the university against the criteria for accreditation as set forth by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools," Magner said.

Larry Kevan, head of the ad hoc committee on the Higher Education Assistance Funds, said there was some confusion as to how the funding of a proposed new classroom building is to be focused.

"It might be better to make existing rooms more high-tech, rather than build new ones," Kevan said.

He suggested that the UPPC's HEAF funding recommendation -- which includes additions to be made to M.D. Anderson Library, a Fine Arts Building renovation and a possible new Science Research Building -- be finalized to go before the administration next month.

According to the committee's report, the one new building project that may begin in 1996 is the new Music Building.

According to the working report on HEAF expenditures, consideration is being given to using about $18.5 million in HEAF funds for the building, freeing John Moores' gift to be placed in the UH endowment.

Robin Downes, director of UH Libraries, submitted a written plea for the oft-promised addition to M.D. Anderson Library.

"Students have complained for years about the serious shortage of space and facilities in M.D. Anderson Library. The normal expansion of book stacks during the next 10 years will eliminate all the study spaces," Downes wrote, regarding the oft-promised addition to M.D. Anderson Library.

A supportive report from the ad hoc committee on Research and Creative Activity said the UH library's shelf capacity will accommodate only one more year of acquisition, even on its present reduced budget.

The council approved a revised version of the university mission statement. UH President James Pickering, a member of the council, said the SACS will be concerned with the mission statement during the reaccreditation process, coming up in early 1997.

The next meeting of the UPPC will be Feb. 13 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom of the UH Hilton.

 

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