College of Communication

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

Pizzabelli, a new East Austin pizzeria,  is accepting employment applications exclusively through Snapchat.

Earlier this month, Pizzabelli posted an ad on Craigslist, encouraging people to send a Snapchat to the username “hiredinasnap” to apply for a position as a host or bartender. The company said it will use the Snapchats to screen for candidates who create “a great first impression.”

Claudia Giliberti, career services advisor for the College of Communication, said a Snapchat-based hiring process makes more sense for some business than others.

“Probably for this type of job it would be acceptable [to apply through Snapchat],” said Giliberti. “I don’t think it’s bad, honestly. It would allow students or applicants to give an animated version of themselves, you know. They can actually say something and can decide what to share.”

Giliberti said the pizzeria targeted the appropriate age demographic by using Snapchat videos.  

“Considering the age and the salary employees are going to make, it’s a decent tool, because you also want to see the person and see how the person interacts with potential customers,” Gillberti said.

Gilberti said accepting applications through Snapchat videos is part of a new trend of employer involvement on social media.

“Tools like Twitter and LinkedIn...are considered normal nowadays,” Gilberti said. “This is basically following that wave of social media interactions where employers are going to check on candidates, and look at their profiles and read what they post.”

Maria Malibiran, English and public relations junior, said using Snapchat as a hiring tool might create a barrier for would-be applicants who aren’t college students.

“There’s a very specific target demographic [for Snapchat],” Malibiran said. “The pizzeria [is] trying to make it easier for college students to work there.”

Public relations sophomore Abby Bollinger said she thinks Pizzabelli is likely also trying to spread awareness about their brand.

“If I was them, I would also be doing it because I would like want people who are using social media,” Bollinger said. “A lot of professions are looking for young people who are in touch and know how to use social media really well, so they can help them out with that when they’re hired.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rosales and Partners

For Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, the sky bridge that will connect the Belo Center for New Media to the Jones Communication Center will serve both functional and symbolic purposes. 

The funding for the pedestrian bridge came as part of the Moody Foundation of Galveston’s $50 million donation to the college in October 2013, when the college became its namesake. Slated for completion by December 2015, the bridge will stretch across Dean Keeton Street, connecting the second floor of the Belo Center to the fourth floor of Communication Buildings A and B. Hart said the structure will serve as a gateway to the campus and as a visual connector for the college.

“The bridge has always been important to me,” Hart said. “My main concern was to kind of pull the College of Communication back together physically and visually.”

Before the Belo Center opened in November 2012, the college’s faculty shared cramped quarters in the two Jones Communication Center buildings, known as the CMA and CMB. Since the college expanded across Dean Keeton Street — creating a physical division — Hart said his goal has been to maintain the collegial bond between the college’s various departments.

“My concern was that we would lose that sense of connection with one another,” Hart said. “The departments have always gotten along really well.”

Of the $50 million donated by the Moody Foundation, $3 million is going toward construction of the sky bridge and other renovations.

The $3 million budget was a challenge for both Hart and bridge architect Miguel Rosales, who was selected by the Faculty Building Advisory Committee to design the structure.

“I frankly didn’t think we could get something this beautiful for that amount of money, so I’m delighted,” Hart said. “That’s the great value of having someone like Miguel, who can make something look quite elegant and grand yet not have it cost an excessive amount of money.”

Rosales, based in Boston, said the bridge is his first project located in Austin. A main feature of the bridge is its towering center columns, which will serve as the primary support for the walkway.

“I had to try to work within the budget, and I did my best to balance the engineering and aesthetic concerns with the cost,” Rosales said. “I think we achieved a good balance in designing something the school can afford, but, in the same way, something that’s going to be an exciting structure that the students will like to see and cross.”

In August, Hart announced that he will resign from his post in May 2015 after a decade as dean. Hart said securing funding for the sky bridge, along with the construction of the Belo Center, have been high points of his tenure as dean. Hart’s push for funding took nearly seven years to come to fruition. The sky bridge idea bloomed in 2007, when Hart secured funding for the Belo Center, and the Board of Regents approved the project.

“The bridge has always been something that’s been in the back of my head, and we would’ve built it if we had had an extra $3 million when we built Belo,” Hart said.

Severine Halls, senior project manager in UT System’s Office of Facilities Planning & Construction, said the original building plans incorporated the sky bridge.

“We completed design for the Belo Center and the KUT facility with the engineering necessary to ensure that if the dean was successful in securing funding, we knew exactly where the bridge would connect the two complexes of buildings as was his original intent,” Halls said.

It took several months for Hart to negotiate the Moody Foundation donation, beginning with a February 2013 conversation over dinner with foundation trustee Ross Moody. The college received the funds for the bridge, scholarships and renovations to the Jones Communication Center.

Completed in 1972, the Jones Communication Center is marked by the prominent cement grid design of CMA. Nearly 40 years later, the Belo Center architects aimed to construct a complementary structure, according to architecture professor Larry Speck.

“In the design of the new building, they did a good job of having some dialogue back with the old one but not feeling that they had to slavishly replicate something from before,” Speck said. “Dean Keeton [Street] is a big street, and it’s kind of a divider, but I think the bridge will be helpful in knitting the two buildings together both functionally and visually.”

Speck said the bridge might help alleviate both vehicular and pedestrian traffic at Dean Keeton Street and Guadalupe, as well as Dean Keeton Street and Whitis Avenue, two of the busiest intersections on campus.

“Hart would like to make it as easy and convenient as possible for people within those two separate complexes to interact with each other, and he’s smart to do that,” Speck said.

Bridge construction will result in detours for both drivers and pedestrians on Dean Keeton Street. For street closures, Christopher Johnson, development assistance center manager for the City of Austin, said the city requires project engineers to provide a detailed traffic control plan that is then reviewed by the Texas Department of Transportation.

“Obviously, they’d want to minimize the construction to either as few lanes or as short a time as possible,” Johnson said. “But for something like that, there’s no way around it. You cannot safely build something like this and still have a road functioning.”

With a semester left as dean and a year until the bridge is to be completed, Hart said he looks forward to using the bridge as a member of the faculty.

“I will love walking across it and looking at it, even though I won’t be the dean at that time,” Hart said.

Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version. 

Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, announced Monday that he will resign from his post in May 2015. Hart has served as dean for 10 years and will return to teach at the university after a year of writing and researching.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

After a decade of administrative service, Roderick Hart, Moody College of Communication dean, announced that he will resign from his post in May 2015, in an email sent to faculty Monday.

Hart said after he completes his tenure as dean, he would most likely spend a year researching and writing before returning to teach at the University.

“I think it’s time for me personally,” Hart said. “I have not been able to teach as much [as dean], and I love teaching.”

Stephen Reese, associate dean of academic affairs at Moody, said serving 10 years in an administrative position is a lot for any dean.

“We’re thankful to have gotten him for more than one [year],” Reese said. “It’s a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of difficult decisions to make. He’s probably been our most successful dean to date.”

Hart has worked at the University since 1979, after serving as a professor at Purdue University for nine years.

During Hart’s tenure as dean, The Moody Foundation donated $50 million to the college in 2013, placing its name on the college. In Hart’s email that announced his resignation, he listed the opening of the Belo Center for New Media in 2012 and the college launching UT3D, the nation’s first comprehensive 3-D production program, as other highlights during his deanship.

After Texas Student Media moved from the Division of Student Affairs to the communication college in the spring, Hart worked to keep The Daily Texan on its five-day-a-week print schedule by requesting transitional funding from President William Powers Jr. to prevent TSM bankruptcy.

Hart said when he took the position of dean of the College of Communication in 2005, the college was lacking in discretionary income to create new programs and construct a new building to provide enough space for the large amount of communication students.

“I set my mind on trying to raise money for a new building, which we were able to do, and to refurbish the Jesse Jones Complex,” Hart said. “It’s just really satisfying that we were able to get all that work done.”

In a joint statement, Powers and Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, said Hart will go down in the college’s history as a pivotal leader and as a favorite with students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“[Hart] has been not only a steady hand in a time of rapidly changing media environments and economic challenge but an active leader who has transformed the college for the better,” Powers and Fenves said.

Hart said he plans to spend his last year as dean teaching a communication and government course, “Voices of Citizenship,” in the fall and continuing to raise money for new programs, such as the Texas Program in Sports and Media and the new Center for Health Communication.

“They’ve gotten started, but they still need more help in raising the sails,” Hart said.

Hart also said he intends to take up men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes on an offer made 10 years ago, when Barnes personally invited Hart to play point guard in a Longhorns basketball game. Barnes issued the invitation after Hart announced that the only thing that would make him happier than being dean was playing for the University’s basketball team.

“In spite of your lack of speed and agility, we believe you still possess qualities that may be an asset to us,” Barnes wrote to Hart in 2005. “Our players have a lot of pride in what they do, and we are confident that your presence on the team will increase that spirit and energy.”

In an interview with the Texan, Fenves said the University will start looking for the Moody college’s new dean in the next month. According to Fenves, the University will establish a search committee of faculty, staff, alumni, students and members of the UT community to conduct the search.

“It’s an exciting time in communications and [for] so many successful programs,” Fenves said. “I know we’ll be able to identify a great leader for the school.”

This story has been updated since its original publication.

Breaking the news on Texas Student Media

The Daily Texan news team chases a scoop on the future of student media.
The Daily Texan news team chases a scoop on the future of student media.

     Set aside, for a moment, all the important questions about the significance of the university’s nascent plan to place its quasi-independent student media under the quasi-control of the College of Communication.

     Instead, consider how the news broke.

     For nearly a year, Texas Student Media, the organization that manages The Daily Texan, KVRX radio, TSTV, The Cactus yearbook and the humor publication Texas Travesty, has operated under a shroud of speculation. More so than usual, which is saying something.

     Last spring, after several years of declining revenues and turnover in the director’s office, the board of trustees that governs TSM’s operations considered a proposal to reduce the newspaper’s print publication schedule. All hell broke loose, relatively speaking. Generations of alumni, including me, rallied to support the paper, with varying ideas of how to go about it. Having already eliminated much of the professional staff, the trustees cut the wages of student journalists, declining to make other substantive changes without more information. The paper’s journalism advisor quit in disgust (but not before urging me to take the job).

     As we’ve proceeded through the 2013-’14 school year, the move to the communication school has taken on the air of fait accompli. Last month, TSM’s director suddenly resigned with little explanation. That stirred the pot. But the substantive discussions continued to take place at a high level behind closed doors.

     For journalists, of course, high-level discussions of public consequence kept behind closed doors are the reason we get up in the morning. Over the past few months, in addition to the new digital initiatives I’ve described in previous posts on this blog, we’ve focused on ramping up our competitive metabolism at The Daily Texan.

     So when the student journalists at The Texan received notification of a meeting this coming Friday concerning the future of TSM, they flooded the zone. Texts went out. Senior reporters and assistant news editors came crashing down the stairs. Though the full issue staff has not even been hired yet for the semester, news editor Jordan Rudner got a team of four reporters and two editors working the phones. After two hours of stops and starts, playing their best hardball to press journalism professors and other potential sources onto the record (consider the irony), they got confirmation.

     Managing editor Shabab Siddiqui moved ahead quickly, editing the story with an eye for balance and context. Editor-in-chief Laura Wright composed an intellectually rigorous piece defining the stakes of the decisions to come, illustrated by a fine editorial cartoon. And the rest of the staff, never losing sight of all the other things that need to happen to produce our daily miracle, covered the new football coach’s presser, introduced students to new facilities set to open at the business school, reported out a knife fight on the drag, shot wild art on East Sixth, edited a feech on native plants, planned video coverage, designed pages, promoted the work on social media, monitored online metrics and sold advertisements.

     All in a day’s work. Impossible without editorial independence. Equally impossible without financial stability. Will The Daily Texan find the right balance at the College of Communication? I know where you’ll read the answers first.


Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

Over a dinner at a loud, high-end seafood restaurant in chilly February, Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, found himself in a conversation he didn’t expect to have that night.

Hart was speaking to Moody Foundation trustee Ross Moody about the college’s goals. Naming the college after a donor was the “big enchilada,” Hart said, which prompted Moody to ask how much it would cost to name UT’s College of Communication after his foundation. Leaning back in his chair with a glass of scotch, Hart disclosed the figure the UT System Board of Regents had set for all colleges.

“$50 million.”

As the University repeatedly recounts to alumni and donors that decreased state support means monetary gifts are needed more than ever before, fundraising still remains a discrete process. Stories behind donations, such as the Moody Foundation’s gift, offer rare insight into the fundraising process, the steps deans take in securing donations and their recent increased involvement in development.

The Moody Foundation’s $50 million donation to the University will be celebrated Thursday in a formal ceremony — more than two weeks after Hart told an upper-division communication class about the donation, forcing UT to announce it sooner than it hoped. The donation will help fund several endowments and the construction of a sky bridge connecting the Belo Center for New Media and the Jesse H. Jones Communications Building A. 

Even though the University has a central office dedicated to development and fundraising, individual University deans often play a crucial role in fundraising and raising money for their respective colleges — especially since fundraising has become a more essential element of the University’s budget. State support made up almost half of UT’s budget in 1984, while it makes up only 13 percent of UT’s $2.48 billion budget today. Meanwhile, gifts and endowments have gone up from 3 percent of UT’s budget in 1984 to 10 percent. 

“In the last couple of decades, I think fundraising at the public university domain has been elevated in importance quite significantly,” said former provost Steven Leslie, who oversaw the deans for more than six years before he stepped down from his position this fall.

Fundraising by deans occurs as they court donors, sometimes over an evening dinner and sometimes over a period of many months or even years. Hart called the dinner with the Moody Foundation a “stewardship” dinner — a thank-you for a prior $2 million gift and an effort to seek more support from the foundation.

Hart secured the Moody Foundation gift over a period of several months. After the February dinner, Hart had to seek approval from President William Powers Jr. to continue having official conversations with the foundation. The UT System Board of Regents also had to approve the agreement to attach the Moody name to the college, as the board has jurisdiction over the naming opportunities of buildings and colleges.

After Hart received approval to proceed, the Moody Foundation requested a proposal from him in May. He spent several weeks in the summer crafting a 50-page proposal that included a breakdown of what the college would do with the $50 million, letters of recommendation for the college from prominent donors and a photo of a sky bridge across Dean Keeton Street with the name Moody emblazoned across it. The Moody Foundation approved the request earlier this year.

Hart estimates he has spent a majority of his time in the past 10 years as dean on fundraising, because the college needed additional funds and raising money became the part of the job he enjoyed he most.

“In many ways, fundraising is helping people turn their beliefs into actions,” Hart said. “They say they love the University. They say they love the college. Here is a way of taking action in behalf of those beliefs that you’ve got.”

UT handles fundraising from multiple angles. While a call center works toward collecting small donations from the average alumni, a central development office works with the individual colleges to secure larger grants and donations throughout campus. Colleges have their own development teams that work with the dean. Many colleges have an associate dean who helps deans fundraise, especially when they want to expand a college’s programs or facilities. 

Former UT presidents William Cunningham and Larry Faulkner highlighted the importance of fundraising responsibilities and collaboration between the University’s president and deans. 

“Clearly, in my opinion, the deans and the presidents are the ones who raise the money,” Cunningham said. “If you didn’t enjoy fundraising, you wouldn’t enjoy the job.” 

While Hart said he is unaware if he’s ever been evaluated based on his fundraising capabilities, fundraising is an essential indication in evaluating and hiring deans, Faulkner said.

Postings announcing openings for deans commonly require candidates to have experience in fundraising and development. In a document outlining the expectations of the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, UT lists fundraising and developing relationships with the community and external stakeholders as a the dean’s responsibility.

The trend extends beyond UT. A job listing for an engineering dean at UT-San Antonio lists fundraising for endowments and other college activities as part of the dean’s responsibilities. Outside of Texas, job listings for colleges in California and Virginia, among others, indicate deans will be expected to implement a “strong fundraising strategy” and “play a leadership role in the college’s fundraising and external relationship-building.”

Cunningham, who was the dean of the McCombs School of Business before his promotion to president in 1985, said he believes it was his successful fundraising track record that led to his promotion.

“I was only dean for roughly two years, and we raised a million dollars a month for 24 months in a row,” Cunningham said. “Good deans do that. Good deans are out hitting the pavement, talking about the college and why they need external support. It’s just what good deans do.”

After relying on funding allocated from the System for many years, Cunningham said it was during his tenure as president that the University increased its use of using naming opportunities to entice donors.

Despite the importance UT places on development and obtaining large, philanthrophic gifts, the fundraising responsibilities of deans is still dependant on a college’s reputation and academic success. 

“Academic leadership is, in the end, the most important thing,” Faulkner said. “People give gifts because they believe in what is being done in the institution. They’re not just going to give gifts because someone is silver-tongued. So, in the end, it’s what is happening at the colleges. The dean needs to create that reality.”

Hart compares his role to a lobbyist and said asking donors to invest in academic efforts is similar to lobbyists seeking support for policies.

“I don’t have any policies to advance, but I do have a college to advance,” Hart said. “I would go and talk to the devil himself, if necessary, to explain what a wonderful place we are to invest [in].”

In this week's The Daily Texan Podcast, Christine Ayala, Jordan Rudner and special guest Madlin Meckelburg discuss the long discussion at the Student Government meeting on undocumented students. They also discuss the $50 million donation from the Moody Foundation to the College of Communication, and the committee hearings on Wallace Hall.

Tune in every Friday on at 3:30 to join in on The Daily Texan Podcast live.


This rendering, obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act, illustrates the proposed skybridge between the Belo Center for New Media and the Communication A Building. The skybridge will be built as part of a larger renovation of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Complex funded by $5 million of the $50 million from the Moody Foundation and $5 million from the University.

The College of Communication will be getting a new name and a bridge.

The Moody Foundation announced a $50 million contribution to the college on Monday, which will rename the entity to the Moody College of Communication. 

About $5 million of the donation — combined with an additional $5 million from the University — will be used for renovations in the Jesse H. Jones Communication Complex, including the construction of a skybridge across Dean Keeton Street, connecting the fourth floor of the Communication A Building to the second floor of the Belo Center for New Media. 

The endowment, which is the largest given to a public university for the study of communication in the nation, will provide $13 million for graduate student recruitment, $10 million for research and outreach centers and $5 million in department endowments.

“This is a tremendous gift that will create tremendous opportunity for the University,” UT spokesman Gary Susswein said. “The Moody Foundation has been very generous with the gift to the University. It will support students, it will support faculty, it will support learning. With this gift, the College of Communication will probably be unparalleled to other communication colleges in the nation.”

The Moody Foundation 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.

“This really is an important time for the college, not to mention the gift is really, really cool,” Hart said. “For a number of years we’ve wanted to offer in-service training for media professionals, but we [historically] haven’t had the space or luxury of [implementing] it. This really is a transformational gift that will enhance the local and national visibly of the college.”

Mike Wilson, associate dean for external relations for the college, said what differentiates the endowment from others is the majority of the funds directly supporting members of the college. 

“The beauty of this gift, and this is what I think separates it [from other donations] is that the vast majority of the money is going to directly support faculty, students and the programs we have at UT,” Wilson said. “The money has been distributed carefully and with a lot of thought so that every department in the college receives the benefits of the Moody Foundation’s generosity.”

Wilson said discussions about the Moody Foundation’s contribution to the college began over a year ago when the foundation made its initial investment in UT3D — the college’s 3D production program for undergraduates. 

“Through that, I got to know the foundation very well and learned of their past philanthropic interests and found that they were closely related to our own college’s work,” Wilson said. “Ross Moody [trustee of the Moody Foundation] in particular was very interested in doing something of substance within the college and we ultimately talked about the gift that you’re reading about today.” 

The Moody Foundation is named after the late Galveston-based financial magnate, W.L. Moody Jr. and his late wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody. Moody Jr., who died in 1954, owned several businesses during his lifetime, including the Galveston News, which he bought in 1923 from Alfred H. Belo — the namesake of the Belo Center for New Media.

Wilson, a journalism graduate of the college, said the donation from the Moody Foundation will greatly affect the college going forward. He said he views the endowment as a legacy that people 100 years from now can benefit from. 

“This is going to be a stellar, stellar shot in the arm for the international positioning of the college that will help us undoubtably recruit the kind of students and faculty and get the kind of notoriety that a publicly-held university wants to achieve,” Wilson said. “I’ve been on the dean’s advisory council for close to a decade and no time in the history of my association with the college have I been prouder or more challenged by what’s going to transpire with this gift.”

Editor’s Note: This is one story in a series of features on external UT foundations running through Wednesday.

When UT set out to offer students a way into Austin’s independent film scene in 2003, it was easy for administrators to get swept up in Hollywood ambition. They formed a public-private partnership that resulted in four feature films that flopped financially, but offered students a glimpse into how a traditionally funded project operates.  

Creating a financial and legal framework to allow private investment in UT-affiliated films meant forming the UT Communication Foundation, said Jeff Graves, UT associate vice president for legal affairs. Since UT cannot legally own a for-profit company, the foundation was formed and owned nine corporations that produced the movies, Graves said. The parent production corporation was called Burnt Orange Productions, LLC

When it comes to measuring the success of the company’s four years of filmmaking, opinions vary depending on who is asked and what metric is used.

University officials, investors, students and filmmakers agree that establishing the foundation to fund feature films — possibly a first by a public university — provided opportunities to work in a professional environment that otherwise would have been inaccessible to students.

Hart said it was also a learning experience for the administrators. 

“It’s like taking a course, you know,” he said. “You got a C on that first exam, but you’re hoping on getting a B on the second exam. We always had hope. Now we weren’t stupid. After a while we said, ‘I’ve had enough. Thank you very much.’ We’re not going to invest any more college money even though it was modest.”

The endeavor was a sinkhole for public and private money. 

The foundation’s company received $3.35 million from 14 private investors, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents. The University also contributed money for the company’s buildings and University staff that worked on the projects, said radio-television-film professor Thomas Schatz. 

The University was unable to provide records of expenditures related to Burnt Orange Productions although The Daily Texan submitted a public information request for that information in February. Since none of the films turned a profit, the foundation registered a consistent negative balance of more than $760,000 on its tax forms since filmmaking ended in 2007.

By writing off its losses, the foundation registered a positive balance on its 2012 tax return of $22,000, but how those funds will be spent and whether or not the organization has any potential as a vehicle for funding at the University of Texas remains to be seen, Graves said. 

“The foundation is a non-profit set up to support the University, just as all the other foundations are,” Graves said. “So it could be used for other purposes, although I don’t think that was ever contemplated.”  

While the foundation has been inactive since 2007, College of Communication dean Roderick Hart said he still spends $15,000 each year from his dean’s discretionary fund to cover insurance costs related to the project.

“I don’t like paying that, but if there were any lawsuits to come at us, we’d need it,” Hart said. Hart inherited the foundation from his predecessor Ellen Wartella in 2004. 

Wartella said she spent part of her time as dean soliciting investments for the project and she had hoped it would make enough money to continue production with the college.  

It may not have taken a blockbuster, but some commercial success would have been necessary to keep Burnt Orange Productions going, Hart said. 

Investor Eddie Safady said he and the others who invested in the project had more philanthropic goals in mind than profits.

“It wasn’t a good financial investment because everyone lost money, but most of the investors, including myself, went into it not ever thinking they were going to make money,” Safady said. “I think it was a great exercise for those who got to participate. We shouldn’t have started without having a lot more money dedicated to the project up front.”

Documents filed with the SEC indicate the organization had an $8 million fundraising goal, but Hart said raising that much money proved more difficult and time consuming than anticipated. 

Making the Films

Once the company formed, the University hired Carolyn Pfeiffer, an established independent-film producer, as CEO and rented a warehouse downtown on Fifth Street for the project. 

Scripts for films that could be made on budgets ranging from $500,000 to more than $2 million poured in, said Gregory Kirr, development director for the movies. Kirr said he cataloged and read between 400 and 500 scripts, chose the best ones and forwarded them to Pfeiffer. 

UT administrators on the foundation’s board of directors had final approval on content, Hart said. Vice president for legal affairs Patricia Ohlendorf and vice president and chief financial officer Kevin Hegarty and Hart were on the board of directors.

“We would listen to them, and I think if anybody had suggested something crazy, people like Patti and I would listen and step in if we had to,” Hart said. “We wouldn’t have wanted anything that was too risque. We wouldn’t want that associated with the college.” 

Ultimately, administrators decided to cease production after the films generated little financial or critical success, Hart said. 

Each film had a crew of students and professionals and more than 200 students, including 2005 radio-television-film alumnae Kate Ridgway, worked on the films. Ridgway, who has built a career in television and film in Los Angeles, said her experience working for Burnt Orange on the set of “The Quiet” as a post-production assistant jump-started her Hollywood career. 

“Actually working on a film that wasn’t just a school thing was a really important experience,” Ridgway said. “To be able to cope with some of those real-world issues like data security and to have a budget — I’ve never seen a student system like the one we worked on at Burnt Orange. Man, it was crazy.”

Librado Lozano, another 2005 alumnus who worked for Burnt Orange, said he still uses some of the work he produced with the company when meeting with
potential employers. 

“The main long-term benefit I received was working with high quality material,” Lozano said. “Some of my Burnt Orange stuff is still on my demo that I still use.”

Overall, Lozano said his time at Burnt Orange met expectations. 

“I didn’t go into it thinking I was going to work on a really big blockbuster,” Lozano said. “I did go into it thinking I was going to get hands-on experience in films.” 

The most financially successful film the company had any involvement in was not one that students worked on or that was produced by the company. Schatz said the company likely received a “couple thousand dollars” for allowing the crew of the 2006 film “A Mighty Heart” to use its offices for a couple of days to film in Austin. By using Burnt Orange, the film could bypass the process of filing more paperwork to get tax incentives for filming in Austin, Schatz said. The film starred Angelina Jolie and was produced by Brad Pitt. It grossed more than $9 million domestically.

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Kathleen Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses political advertising at the Belo Center for New Media on Monday afternoon. Jamieson, a former professor at UT, recently won the DeWitt Carter Reddick award for excellence in the field of communication. 

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Kathleen Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said political advertising is warping the way politicians make decisions.

“We are now affecting governance without having a policy debate about the underlying information,” Jamieson said in a lecture on Monday, which was sponsored by the College of Communication.

Jamieson, who has spent years studying the subject and who recently won the DeWitt Carter Reddick Award for excellence in the field of communication, said politicians are making important national decisions based on sound bites. She pointed to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s campaign, in which he attacked proposed “welfare work waivers” for stripping the federal work requirement from welfare, supposedly turning it into a free ride for recipients. In fact, she said, the waivers were only requested by Republican governors, because they could then implement other work requirements of their own.

“Here’s the rationale: States are different ... you might in those circumstances administer differently,” Jamieson said. “You might have different populations.”

These, Jamieson said, were the programs President Obama granted welfare work waivers to. However, explaining this to voters takes too long, she said.

“Imagine we’re Republican governors who just wanted the waiver,” Jamieson said. “[Republicans will say] I don’t want the waiver ... because I don’t want this ad from the Democrats next time I’m running for governor.”

Jamieson said this effect of political ads is too often ignored, because it is assumed that political campaigns and actual governance operate separately.

“What would Romney have done as president had he been restrained by his own advertising?” Jamieson said. “This is a broken system.”

Jamieson said it is even harder to discover how to fix the system, because correcting false advertising takes 1,000 words, while the advertisements themselves take only 30 seconds.

“They’ve created a collusion between misstatements of fact tied to basic human fallacies, moves that we make almost viscerally,” Jamieson said. “We ought to worry about that...if not we’re not going to get the kind of governance we need at a very difficult time for our country.”

Communication studies junior Heather Lorenzen attended the talk and said she has witnessed the effect of negative advertising first-hand.

“My ... parents still swear Obama’s not American,” Lorenzen said.

Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, said there are important ways communication students can implement lessons from Jamieson’s lecture.

“I think the great journalism question is ‘How do you know [what you think you know]?’” Hart said. “Very few people are saying ‘Given the deluge of advertising, what’s the effect of advertising?’”

Printed on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 as Political advertising dictates public policy, speaker says 

Students attend a tour at the renovated Behavioral Science Laboratory on Thursday afternoon. The laboratory is open to communication faculty and students for analyzing human behavior and interactions.

Photo Credit: Yamel Thompson | Daily Texan Staff

Newly renovated state-of-the-art experimental and laboratory rooms now fill the first floor of Communication Building B of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. 

The Behavioral Science Laboratory opened April 1 for College of Communication faculty and student research within the communication realm. Since the opening, two researchers are currently conducting experiments.

According to Nick Hundley, the College of Communication director of communications, the renovation created five experimental rooms for conducting research, a control room to monitor the research being conducted, a survey stimulus room, focus group suite, a natural viewing room and a waiting room for participants. Every research room is equipped with audio and video monitoring capability.

Hundley said College of Communication graduate and undergraduate students working with a faculty advisor may use the lab to conduct research.

“The lab enables the scientific study of human behavior and will be used for the study of human interaction, person-to-person conversation and group interaction,” Hundley said. “Researchers are able to capture digital feeds from cameras and microphones to later code and analyze.”

The laboratory is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations for spaces in the lab can be made as early as 60 days in advance but no less than 14 days before the the research begins. Researchers must reserve online and are only allowed to schedule a maximum of 24 hours a week.

Veronica Inchauste, program coordinator of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, led a tour of the Behavioral Science Lab on Thursday. During the tour she said groups trying to use the space must provide their Institutional Review Board number and researchers must attend a mandatory orientation to learn about laboratory usage. She said these policies will allow for maximum efficiency.

“Before we created any of the policies, I did a lot of research on the use of research labs around the country so that we would make sure there is an efficient use of the space,” Inchauste said. “We want to make sure it is being used efficiently and not used sitting there without anyone using it. This laboratory allows for flexibility for any kind of research.”

Communication Studies professor Brenda Berkelaar said she is hopeful that in the next couple of years she will conduct research in the laboratory.

“I am excited that we have space available that’s flexible that can account for a lot of different research questions and opportunities that the faculty and students here have,” Berkelaar said. “I believe the lab will give students an opportunity to have a richer understanding of some of the research process and how what we do can actually have impact.”