Category: Business & Technology

Moody Foundation donates $50 million to College of Communication

By: Sarah Foster, Lily Morris, Joshua Fechter

Students and faculty gathered outside of the Moody College of Communication on Nov. 7 to celebrate the $50 million donation granted by the Moody Foundation. This donation — the largest one ever to be received by the college — will further the college’s national leader status, university officials said.

President Powers (left) takes a moment to speak with Moody foundation Trustee, Ross Moody, before the ceremony begins.

President Powers (left) takes a moment to speak with Moody foundation trustee Ross Moody before the ceremony begins.

UT President William Powers Jr. spoke about how big of an impact the donation will make on future Texas students.

“This is going to be a gift that will transform how we do research, how we teach,” Powers said. “It will benefit students for years and years to come.”

The foundation, founded in Galveston in 1866, was “created for the perpetual benefit of present and future generations of Texans by William Lewis Moody, Jr. and his wife, Libbie Sheran Moody.” Some of its largest grants include the Moody Gardens in Galveston ($300 million), the Transitional Learning Center in Galveston, ($38.1 million), the Galveston Municipal Golf Course, which is a part of the Moody Gardens and currently undergoing a $17 million renovation, and now the Moody College of Communication at UT Austin. After introducing members of the Moody family present at the ceremony, one of which is a freshman at the University, Powers handed off the microphone to Moody Foundation Trustee and also UT alumnus, Ross Moody, who explained the reasoning behind the grant.

Ross Moody, one of the Moody Foundation Trustees, spoke mainly about the decision behind the donation.

Ross Moody, one of the Moody Foundation trustees, spoke mainly about their decision behind the generous donation.

“With a family with a history of dyslexia, the vision and mission of the department of communication sciences and disorders, to understand and treat the challenges of both the young and old with speech, hearing, and language impairments, and to develop new methodologies to broaden the minds ability to formulate, absorb, and express ideas was key in our decision to support the college,” Moody said. “Also, I’ve learned that 26 Pulitzer Prizes have been awarded to graduates and faculty of the college of communication. All of those Pulitzer Prize winners inspire today’s students – the ones you described in your speech Dean Hart – to pursue journalism.”

According to a university press release, the donation will provide “$13 million for graduate student recruitment, $10 million for research and outreach centers and $5 million in department endowments. It will also provide $10 million to establish an ‘idea fund,’ which Roderick Hart, dean of the college, said will act as venture capital for ideas in departmental development.”

Moody College of Communication Dean, Roderick Hart, began the ceremony by giving a bit of background history of the foundation, stating “The Moodys specialized in oil and cotton, as well as ranching banking and insurance…but today these two great institutions come together for the best of reasons: to help educate the young people of Texas among the exciting and sometimes bewildering world of modern communication technology.”

Moody College of Communication Dean, Roderick Hart, began the ceremony by giving a bit of background history of the foundation. He said, “The Moodys specialized in oil and cotton, as well as ranching banking and insurance…but today these two great institutions come together for the best of reasons: to help educate the young people of Texas among the exciting and sometimes bewildering world of modern communication technology.”

Gifts to the College of Communication have risen by about $1.5 million during the past two years — from about $6.5 million during the 2011-12 academic year to almost $8 million in academic year 2013-14, according to the UT Budget Office.

Source: The University of Texas at Austin Budget Office

Source: The University of Texas at Austin Budget Office

Source: University of Texas College of Communication

Source: University of Texas College of Communication

The School of Journalism is increasingly reliant on donations as funds from the state decrease, said Glenn Frankel, the school’s director. He said the donation would be used to foster innovative programs and techniques invented by faculty and students — something the school needs to ensure it produces students who are entering a changing media marketplace.

“I think this is the most exciting and innovative and challenging time to become a journalist,” Frankel said. “I think if you’re young and you’re not afraid of technology and you’re adventurous, you have the opportunity to help recreate journalism. Journalism isn’t going away.”

Video by Joshua Fechter

Some of those innovations will require students to acquire skills that are increasingly needed in a market that values web-based content and skills. UT journalism professor Robert Quigley — who teaches a class focusing on social media’s role in journalism — said students will need to be able to invent new storytelling techniques, not just existing tools.

“The journalism school is just as important now as it’s ever been, if not more important,” Quigley said. “Because, we’re not just teaching kids a simple skill that they need to learn to go get a job at the low end at a newspaper. We’re teaching them how to invent the future of communications.”

Video by Joshua Fechter:

 

Photos by Lily Morris:

Proud students of the class of 2013-14 gather around for a photo – some of the first to graduate from the Moody College of Communication.

Students of the class of 2013-14 gather around for a photo – some of the first to graduate from the Moody College of Communication.

The ceremony took place on the Walker Cronkite Plaza, outside of the newly renamed college.

The ceremony took place on the Walker Cronkite Plaza, outside of the newly renamed college.

Wanda Cash, head of the journalism school and also a professor of journalism at the University of Texas, at the Moody donation ceremony.

Wanda Garner Cash, associate director of the School of Journalism, is thrilled to be at the Moody donation ceremony.

Ashley Bigham, Communication Council President and public relations senior, spoke on behalf of all communication students. She said, "As students, we have put our sweat and tears into this school. We have put our best efforts into our tests, our projects, and other challenges that we have been faced with…We already go to one of the best communication schools in the world – in fact, we are number two in the world – but now we have the privilege of saying that we attend the Moody College of Communication.

Ashley Bigham, Communication Council President and public relations senior, spoke on behalf of all communication students. She said, “As students, we have put our sweat and tears into this school. We have put our best efforts into our tests, our projects, and other challenges that we have been faced with…We already go to one of the best communication schools in the world – in fact, we are number two in the world – but now we have the privilege of saying that we attend the Moody College of Communication.”

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The ceremony ended with Dean Roderick Hart asking the crowd to join him in singing the Eyes of Texas.

 

Barbecue: A Texas Obsession

By Emily Alleman, Frances Bello, Kelly Eisenbarger, and Kelly Fine

Texas may be the home to a number of Southern charms – including the Dallas Cowboys, the world’s largest rodeo, and Blue Bell Ice Cream – but nothing says Texas more than good ol’ southern barbecue. Fatty brisket and smoked sausages are such popular staples in the Texan’s diet that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to locals and non-locals alike that there exists in Austin an annual celebration dedicated solely to the glorified meat.

Alex Wolfe and his daughter enjoy some deliciously messy ribs at the Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival

Alex Wolfe and his daughter enjoy some deliciously messy ribs at the Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival

November 3, 2013 marked the 4th annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest. Hosted by the award-winning magazine, Texas Monthly, the festival welcomed carnivores from all over the state to sample 21 of the “Top 50” barbecue joints in Texas, including some of the hardest to get your hands on, like Austin’s Franklin Barbecue and Snow’s BBQ in Lexington.

But even the barbecue houses that didn’t earn a spot in Texas Monthly’s Top 50 still hold a special place in the hearts of its surrounding meat lovers. One of Austin’s most beloved spots to chow down is Ruby’s BBQ, located just north of the University of Texas. Known as the city’s only barbecue restaurant that uses all natural beef, Ruby’s was founded in 1988 by married couple Pat and Luke Zimmermann.

“Pat and Luke have always kind of run the place,” General Manager Amy Marsh said. It’s real family style. Lots of college kids have come through here, and that’s really been their family.” To celebrate their 25th anniversary in December, the couple is having live music and a possible showing of The Fugitive, the film that gave Ruby’s its name.

Another local favorite is Blue Ox, which hit the ground running in January of this year under the direction of former UT student Chase Palmer. Blending Austin’s food truck culture and Texas’s love for barbecue, Blue Ox has made a name for itself as a stationary food truck located in the The Buzz Mill coffeehouse. As young as it is, the local joint is already famous for its mouth-watering brisket and espresso-rubbed pork tenderloin. The quality of the barbecue no doubt has to do with the fact that Palmer is dedicated to using wood to cook his meat instead of propane gas – a traditional method that many larger barbecue companies have given up on because of the time and effort it requires.

“There’s a lot of problems you get from doing barbecue the “right way,” but we do it because there is enough quality difference to make it worth it,” Palmer said.

Also fixated on handling meat the right way is the Central Texas Barbecue Association, an organization formed 20 years ago in order to judge Texas grillers based on a set of “fair and consistent rules.”

Brisket by Black's Barbecue of Lockhart, Texas.

Brisket by Black’s Barbecue of Lockhart, Texas. Taken at Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival.

Among these rules are the following: Cooking must be done using wood or wood substance. No propane can be used. No garnishes can be added to the meat, and sauce has to be cooked in, which means that it cannot be added once the meat comes off the pit. If sauce is detected, the entry is disqualified.

The members of the association cook for points throughout the year, and the team with the most points at the end of the year wins the title “Cook of the Year.” If bragging rights aren’t enough to motivate the contestants, the prize money offered to the winner might be.

“It’s fun because the whole family can be involved,” said Joe Medrano, the secretary of CTBA. “My wife likes cooking our bean entries. My brother is our margarita man. He prepares our jack pot margarita entries. Other members of our team have specialties. My specialty is chicken. One does ribs and one does brisket.”

In order to live in Texas, however, you don’t have to be an award-winning griller. You just have to know the taste of good barbecue. One such Texan is Jon Chapman, who frequents East Austin’s Live Oak Barbecue and knows the owner, Thomas Spaulding.

“Somehow, meat is so afraid of him, it falls apart right off the bone when he cooks it,” Chapman said about Spaulding. He obviously knows the first sign of a Texas pit master.BBQInfographic

It’s no secret that Texans love their smoked meat. The TMBBQ Fest, which was held in the lawn of Austin’s Long Center, sold completely out of tickets (for both VIP and General Admission) within a short span of 30 hours of being made available. But when did barbecue become integral to Texas culture? According to Daniel Vaughn, the country’s only full-time barbecue editor, barbecue has been around since the days following the Civil War.

“During this time the economy was in shambles throughout the South, including Texas, but the one thing we still had here was beef. A lot of it. And butcher shops sprouted up in towns all over the state,” Vaughn wrote in his recent article for the Texas Monthly blog titled “The Genesis of the Barbecue Joint.”

Based on his own findings from old Texas newspapers, Vaughn has reason to believe that the state’s first commercially sold barbecue began in Bastrop in August 1886. Alexander & Gill competed with John Kohler in the quest to sell the most meat, and it didn’t take long for the trend to catch on with other Texas grillers. Southside Market, an Elgin hotspot, would become the first official barbecue joint to open in Texas in the same year.

Nowadays, barbecue establishments from all over the Lone Star State are still striving for the highest place of honor in the hearts of brisket-obsessed Texans, if for nothing else than the satisfaction of housing the best. But as fundamental as this cuisine is to Texas culture, the state is too big for all of its inhabitants to agree on the best type of barbecue. Each region puts a unique spin on what Texas Monthly has deemed the “classic” version: Central Texas’s plain hunk of beef prepared “meat market style,” with a little sauce on the side. But whether we’re talking about the tangy sauce-soaked ribs of East Texas or the smoky mesquite-cooked beef of West Texas, most barbecue fiends can agree on one thing: there is no barbecue in the world like Texas BBQ.

Not a meat eater? Read our reporter’s look into Austin’s vegetarian “BBQ.”

Tapped Out: The Explosion of Craft Beer in Austin

By: Jeffrey Kahn, Austin Powell, Joshua Fechter

Craft Pride is an example of the growing craft beer industry in not only, Austin, but the state.  The bar has 54 beers on tap that are produced in microbreweries throughout Texas. (Photo by: Austin Powell)

Craft Pride is an example of the growing craft beer industry in not only, Austin, but the state. The bar has 54 beers on tap that are produced in microbreweries throughout Texas. (Photo by: Austin Powell)

 

         Everything is not bigger in Texas, this according to a study by the New Yorker showing the number of craft breweries in the country.  However, the Lone Star State does crack the top ten by coming in eight.  Thanks to legislation passed by the state legislature in June 2013, craft brewers, or microbreweries, now have easier access to distributing their product to a larger audience.  Craft breweries currently contribute $608 million to the states economy, however, that number is expected to $5.6 billion, according to a study by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild.  Austin and its surrounding areas currently have 15 microbreweries.  Austin is also celebrating its fourth annual Austin Beer Week this week with many bars across the city holding events to recognize craft beers in Austin.

 

 

 

       Uncle Billy’s Brew and Que is one of Austin’s finest hybrid brewery-restaurants in town. Located off of Barton Springs in South Austin, Uncle Billy’s brings locals home-brewed craft beer. Michael Waters, head brewer, has been brewing professionally since 2009 and takes huge pride in brewing consistent, great craft beer. Waters believes Austin has a great craft beer community with a lot of growing left to do. Check out more on Waters, Uncle Billy’s, and craft beer in the videos embedded below.

 

 

Craft Beer Infographic