Tara Doolittle

David Bergeron, David Laude and Tom Melecki participate in a financial panel to discuss student duel enrollment in both ACC and UT Austin.  Starting in the fall, students will allowed to be similtaneously enrolled in hopes of saving thousands of dollars in student loans.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Following a new deal between Austin Community College and UT, students will automatically gain admission to the University after meeting minimum eligibility requirements at ACC starting fall 2013. In an effort to reduce tuition costs and increase graduation rates, ACC and UT established a program called Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment, which will give students the opportunity to earn transferable credits off campus.

At a financial aid panel Thursday, David Laude, chemistry professor and senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said he hopes the policy will save students thousands of dollars while giving them a UT-quality education at the ACC Rio Grande campus. 

Students admitted to the new program will take four core classes at ACC, and an undergraduate studies signature course on the UT campus. Laude said the core classes offered at ACC will be comparable to UT courses.  

“There won’t be much of a difference between a chemistry class here and at ACC,” Laude said. “The syllabi and the level of difficulty will be similar.” 

UT spokesperson Tara Doolittle said ACC and UT faculty are working together to make sure the core curriculum at ACC lines up with classes at UT. 

Doolittle said unlike other UT system-wide coordinated admissions programs, which offer automatic admission to students completing eligibility requirements at other UT schools, the new program allows students to take classes taught by faculty from the main campus and be classified as UT students while also fulfilling requirements at ACC. 

“It is an extension of an existing relationship between ACC and UT announced last month that would allow students to get an associates, before going to UT,” Doolittle said. “Those who are in the top nine and 10 percent of their class, who would get automatic admission anywhere else, would qualify for this program.” 

Upon completion of core courses at ACC and meeting a minimum GPA of 2.5, students will be automatically admitted into UT, Doolittle said.

Richard Rhodes, president of ACC, said the program is a collaborative effort to improve access to higher education.

“[The program] represents two sectors of higher education working together to create better pathways for students to achieve their dreams,” Rhodes said. “In this case, that dream is to achieve a bachelor’s degree from UT Austin.”

The announcement was made during a discussion on financial aid solutions and initiatives to increase four-year graduation rates. 

Published on March1, 2013 as "Program to ease tranfers from ACC". 

 

Institutions of higher education with relatively low competition for admissions are more likely to increase their application rates by investing in commodities such as athletics and facilities, according to a report released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study examined the impact of various investments on the application rates at approximately 1,300 universities. Universities that are more competitive in admissions are more likely to see their application rates rise if they invest in academics, while universities that are less competitive are not affected as much by investing in the academics.

The University of Texas tends to be a more competitive university in terms of admissions, according to enrollment data in recent years. All public higher education institutions in Texas are required to automatically admit the top 10 percent of public high school seniors, but UT is the exception. Currently the University automatically admits the top 8 percent, but in 2014 the University will automatically admit the top 7 percent according to UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle.

Kimberly Beckwith, a kinesiology and health education lecturer, said some of the non-academic commodities that attract students might not be a distraction but rather a benefit to the academic aspects of a university.

“Sports and physical education have actually gained a little more respect in academics and there is a growing amount of interest in our department,” Beckwith said.

Beckwith said recreational sports themselves are popular and different levels of sports have become new areas of research interests and study interests.

Doolittle said the admissions staff is reviewing a record number of applications this year and several factors influence the competition. 

“When you consider that a large proportion of our enrollment is reserved for our automatic admission students, we are one of the most competitive public colleges in the nation,” Doolittle said. “Athletics does contribute to the institution as does a number of our other self-supporting auxiliary functions. That support helps insure that we have academic offerings of the highest caliber.”

While students at UT can reap the benefits of a world-class stadium and enjoy convenient access to fast food and coffee shops alike, it does not seem to be the only thing attracting students to the University. Biology freshman Michael Walker said he found the academics of the University the most compelling while considering which college to attend.

“I definitely feel I was more attracted to the academics of UT than the sports and facilities,” Walker said. “I mean people get hyped up from the football games and the giant stadium, and they’re nice and all but unless you are actually aspiring to be a professional athlete, I think UT is better off spending more money on academics because that’s more of a realistic goal.”

Projected budgets for UT-Austin medical school lend insight on potential salaries

Administrators are taking the first steps to get a UT-Austin medical school off the ground with estimates of first-year expenses for hiring and construction.

Budget projections for the new medical school, obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act, show $1.2 million set aside for medical or surgery faculty salaries this year. The University announced plans to hire a dean in 2013 before hiring a teaching faculty.

UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle said she was unable to confirm how much will be spent to hire faculty this year. 

“The April 2012 [budget projections] document is an estimate rather than an approved budget,” Doolittle said. “We and our partners are working very quickly to build a budget out and fine-tune those estimates.”

The projected budget also includes $47 million set aside for the construction of a research building, an educational and administrative building and a vivarium, which will be built near University Medical Center Brackenridge. The vivarium will house live animals maintained for research. Funds to establish a resident program are listed as $21.8 million for the first year. 

Doolittle said Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost, and his office will oversee any funding that will go toward the new medical school, including the new dean’s salary, until the infrastructure of a dean’s office is put into place following the hiring of the dean. 

The UT System Board of Regents voted last May to provide $25 million annually toward the medical school and an additional $5 million for the first eight years for equipment. The $30 million will flow through the provost’s office when funding is released in August. 

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said a hiring committee, under Leslie’s leadership, will decide the new dean’s salary.

Leslie oversees compensation of the University’s 17 deans whose salaries range from $183,333 to $541,500, according to a salary database published by The Texas Tribune.

“The first step is finding a dean,” Susswein said. “The hiring committee would then determine appropriate compensation.”

Doolittle said it is too early in the process to discuss a possible salary.

The UT System currently has six health institutions and all of them operate independently from the system’s nine academic institutions. UT’s medical school will be the first to be developed as part of an academic institution rather than standing independently. 

This raises questions about what the new medical school’s dean could receive as compensation. 

It is unclear if the new dean’s salary will rival the salaries of presidents of the System’s other health institutions or will be similar to UT’s other deans. Deans at UT make significantly less than health institution presidents. For example, Ronald DePinho, president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, receives a base salary of $1.4 million per year, making him the fourth highest paid state employee and the highest paid president in the UT System. 

In comparison, President William Powers Jr. received a base salary of $613,612 last year, which makes him the highest paid UT-Austin employee, behind a few UT-Austin coaches.

Additionally, faculty members of the new medical school could receive salaries that surpass the compensation levels of Powers and the new dean. Most health institutions compensate a few professors more than the school’s president. For example, Rodney Rohrich, a professor at UT-Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, makes $1.75 million, which surpasses school president Daniel Podolsky’s base salary of $921,284. Rohrich is the third highest paid state employee.

Overall, professors and administrators at UT System health institutions made up 21 of the state’s top 25 salaries for government employees last year.

Susswein said the hiring committee will be put in place soon. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Messing, the recently appointed vice provost for biomedical sciences, will co-chair a steering committee with Dr. Susan Cox, the Austin regional dean for UT-Southwestern, that will oversee the establishment of a curriculum and residency, research and training programs.

“Messing will help with a number of steps that need to happen in addition to locating an inaugural dean,” Doolittle said. “We are already working on getting accreditation and set up a curriculum to get the M.D. degree approved. Messing will help coordinate those introductory steps as we set up agreements to pull academic units together.”

Susswein said the new dean will be charged with hiring faculty members, establishing future budgetary procedures and leading fundraising efforts for the medical school.

The University expects to enroll 50 students in the medical school’s inaugural class in 2015 or 2016.

Administrators are taking the first steps to get a UT-Austin medical school off the ground with estimates of first-year expenses for hiring and construction.

Budget projections for the new medical school, obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act, show $1.2 million set aside for medical or surgery faculty salaries this year. The University announced plans to hire a dean in 2013 before hiring a teaching faculty.

UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle said she was unable to confirm how much will be spent to hire faculty this year. 

“The April 2012 [budget projections] document is an estimate rather than an approved budget,” Doolittle said. “We and our partners are working very quickly to build a budget out and fine-tune those estimates.”

The projected budget also includes $47 million set aside for the construction of a research building, an educational and administrative building and a vivarium, which will be built near University Medical Center Brackenridge. The vivarium will house live animals maintained for research. Funds to establish a resident program are listed as $21.8 million for the first year. 

Doolittle said Steven Leslie, executive vice president and provost, and his office will oversee any funding that will go toward the new medical school, including the new dean’s salary, until the infrastructure of a dean’s office is put into place following the hiring of the dean. 

The UT System Board of Regents voted last May to provide $25 million annually toward the medical school and an additional $5 million for the first eight years for equipment. The $30 million will flow through the provost’s office when funding is released in August. 

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said a hiring committee, under Leslie’s leadership, will decide the new dean’s salary.

Leslie oversees compensation of the University’s 17 deans whose salaries range from $183,333 to $541,500, according to a salary database published by The Texas Tribune.

“The first step is finding a dean,” Susswein said. “The hiring committee would then determine appropriate compensation.”

Doolittle said it is too early in the process to discuss a possible salary.

The UT System currently has six health institutions and all of them operate independently from the system’s nine academic institutions. UT’s medical school will be the first to be developed as part of an academic institution rather than standing independently. 

This raises questions about what the new medical school’s dean could receive as compensation. 

It is unclear if the new dean’s salary will rival the salaries of presidents of the System’s other health institutions or will be similar to UT’s other deans. Deans at UT make significantly less than health institution presidents. For example, Ronald DePinho, president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, receives a base salary of $1.4 million per year, making him the fourth highest paid state employee and the highest paid president in the UT System. 

In comparison, President William Powers Jr. received a base salary of $613,612 last year, which makes him the highest paid UT-Austin employee, behind a few UT-Austin coaches.

Additionally, faculty members of the new medical school could receive salaries that surpass the compensation levels of Powers and the new dean. Most health institutions compensate a few professors more than the school’s president. For example, Rodney Rohrich, a professor at UT-Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, makes $1.75 million, which surpasses school president Daniel Podolsky’s base salary of $921,284. Rohrich is the third highest paid state employee.

Overall, professors and administrators at UT System health institutions made up 21 of the state’s top 25 salaries for government employees last year.

Susswein said the hiring committee will be put in place soon. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Messing, the recently appointed vice provost for biomedical sciences, will co-chair a steering committee with Dr. Susan Cox, the Austin regional dean for UT-Southwestern, that will oversee the establishment of a curriculum and residency, research and training programs.

“Messing will help with a number of steps that need to happen in addition to locating an inaugural dean,” Doolittle said. “We are already working on getting accreditation and set up a curriculum to get the M.D. degree approved. Messing will help coordinate those introductory steps as we set up agreements to pull academic units together.”

Susswein said the new dean will be charged with hiring faculty members, establishing future budgetary procedures and leading fundraising efforts for the medical school.

The University expects to enroll 50 students in the medical school’s inaugural class in 2015 or 2016.

Printed on Thursday, January 24, 2013 as: Medical school budget projections released 

Photo Credit: Natasha Smith | Daily Texan Staff

After admitting the largest freshman class in UT’s history, 8,092 students, the University’s administration is saying they expect to enroll almost 1,000 fewer students next year.

This year’s freshman class has put a strain on both the University’s resources and Austin’s housing availability, an issue the University took action on and addressed multiple times during the summer. UT, which accepts students with the assumption that a certain number of students will decline admission offers, had a 2.2 percent increase in the number of students who accepted its admission offer. UT has a total enrollment this year of 52,213, the second largest in UT’s history. UT released its preliminary enrollment numbers Wednesday afternoon.

UT spokesperson Tara Doolittle said the University plans to change the formula it uses to decide how many students to accept. She said implementing some of these changes will be a year-long process, so the University cannot guarantee next year’s incoming class will be smaller. But Doolittle said the admissions formula is changed every year to account for various factors including the economy. She said some of the changes to the admissions process will be implemented immediately. Doolittle said a larger than normal freshman class is not desirable.

"This is not our goal or intent to admit a class this large,” Doolittle said. “It is our hope that our class will not be as large next year. Unchecked growth is not profitable. It is a strain on many of our resources.”

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions, said the University expects to enroll 7,200 students next year. She said the percentage of students accepting admission offers has decreased since 2004. Because of this, the University made additional recruitment efforts last year, which contributed to a much larger than expected number of students accepting admission.

“It is good news to see that those efforts are paying off,” Ishop said in an email. “We are excited to see that increase because it indicates that more students are recognizing the value of a UT-Austin education.”

The School of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Natural Sciences are the two entities at UT affected the most by this freshman class. They both increased their number of available spots, or seats, for students this fall.

Larry Abraham, interim dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies, said there are 7,500 students enrolled in Undergraduate Studies signature courses this fall. Every UT undergraduate student is required to take a signature course at some point in their college education, and UT recommends students take it their first year. The School of Undergraduate Studies added an additional 1,300 UGS seats for this fall and upcoming spring and summer semesters.

Abraham also said the School of Undergraduate Studies is providing academic advising and major exploration support to students in the School of Undergraduate Studies who will have to transfer to another college.

Sacha Kopp, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences, said the college is experiencing its biggest freshman class, more than 2,000 freshmen.

Kopp said students have not faced more difficulties than usual when it comes to registering for the classes they need.

“Our next project is to really worry about spring semester,” Kopp said. “For a lot of our majors, students move from taking a lot of lecture classes into taking a lot of labs. So we need to figure out what our enrollment numbers will be in the spring.”

The College of Liberal Arts added almost 5,000 seats across the college this semester, said Richard Flores, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts. Although the college did not see an excessive increase in enrollment, the College of Liberal Arts offers numerous core classes to students across the entire campus.

Flores said the College of Liberal Arts is looking at what classes they will need to increase seats in next year.

Printed on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as: Large freshman class causes problems

Clarification: The formula for admissions is changed every year to account for various factors including the economy. The University will immediately implement some changes to the admissions forumla. The story initially did not make this clear and implied no changes would be made for the admissions forumla to be used for the next class.

UT fell one spot to No. 46 on U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 national university rankings.

University spokesperson Tara Doolittle said the publication gave UT a lower score partially based on decreased faculty resources and increased class sizes compared to last year.

UT remained in the No. 13 spot for public universities, despite recent budget cuts by the state Legislature.

“We have a long history of making do with what we’ve got and putting priorities in places that have the most impact on student success,” Doolittle said. “We are pleased with the rankings.”

Doolittle said UT will continue to make ends meet with whatever resources are available, but budget changes can impact metrics used to rank UT, including class size and financial aid.

“If there are areas where we receive more money or areas where we see cutbacks, there are likely to be trickle-down effects,” Doolittle said. “But remember this is not in isolation.

There are other public universities going through many of the same things we are.”

The methods U.S. News and World Report uses to rank schools are often the subject of debate. Doolittle said U.S.

News and World Report left out an important measure: efficiency.

“We do not have the same resources that Yale has, or a lot of the [resources] privates have,” she said. “If there would be a way to include that in the metrics, that would be something we would be interested in seeing and give people an even better picture of what the University of Texas at Austin has to offer.”

Electrical engineering freshman Hanpei Zhang said the rankings drop does not concern him.

“I have never really been worried about UT’s ranking in general,” Zhang said. “To me, all the top tier schools are about the same.”

Journalism graduate student Dagny Asase said she is not worried about the rankings as long as UT does not cut programs or departments to make ends meet.

“If UT can maintain the courses or department in some way regardless of what is happening to the budget, it shouldn’t be too much of a concern,” Asase said. “But it’s definitely something everybody should be knowledgeable of.”

Printed on Thursday, September 13, 2012 as: UT slips one spot in college rankings

Members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition are preparing to go to court next week for criminal charges filed against them by UT.

A group of 18 UT students was arrested last spring during a sit-in meant to force UT to join the Worker Rights Consortium, an organization that monitors working conditions of factory employees internationally. Although UT announced plans to join the consortium in July, the 18 students will appear in court Friday facing charges for criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.

They must, at that time, either take one of two plea options offered to them earlier this summer or continue to fight the charges against them.

According to Lucian Villasenor, Mexican-American studies senior and arrested student, the plea options offered are as follows:

The first plea would immediately dismiss the charge and force the students to sign an admission of guilt to a class B misdemeanor criminal trespass charge.

The case would remain dismissed as long as the students completed 20 hours of community service and did not get arrested for anything above a class C misdemeanor traffic ticket over a subsequent six-month period. If successful in meeting those conditions, the students could then apply for expungement of the charge, and if unsuccessful, the county could re-file the case and use the admission of guilt in court.

The second plea would defer the charge to a class C misdemeanor of failure to obey a lawful order. Within a three-month period, the students would have to pay a $1 fine and relevant court costs, complete 15 hours of community service and remain arrest-free. If successful in meeting those conditions, the students could apply for expungement of the charge following a two-year waiting period subsequent to the arrest-free three months.

The coalition wanted UT to join the Worker Rights Consortium because they felt the organization overseeing production of UT apparel in foreign countries, Fair Labor Association, wasn’t adequately monitoring working conditions. UT is currently part of both organizations.

In a statement released last month, UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle said the University administration is not taking further action in this case because they feel it is simply out of their hands.

Doolittle said the students were arrested for trespassing, not for expressing their opinions.

“The legal process for the trespassing charges is out of the University’s hands and lies with the [Travis] County Attorney’s Office,” she said.

Corby Holcomb, assistant trial director for the Travis County Attorney’s Office, said while his office does have the final say in the matter with cases involving criminal trespassing, input from the victim or entity in the case is normally taken into consideration when making charging and sentencing decisions.

“Normally, on a criminal trespass case, say, the property owner where the person was trespassing, they would definitely have input,” he said.

Holcomb declined specific comment on the University’s ability to influence this case, as it is still ongoing.

Bianca Hinz-Foley, a Plan II Honors sophomore arrested in the sit-in last spring, said she and other students arrested hope the UT administration will make an effort to have the charges dropped now that they have realized the importance of joining the Workers Rights Consortium.

“We really do believe that UT will do the right thing and get the charges dropped,” she said.

Naomi Paik, assistant American studies professor, said she supports the actions of the arrested students and opposes their criminalization in this case.

“The representatives of United Students Against Sweatshops acted as thoughtful citizens of their community, which we should always encourage, exercised their rights to free speech, and, importantly, exhausted regular avenues of raising their concerns well before they organized a peaceful sit-in,” she said. “Instead of treating peaceful students as criminals, we have a responsibility to take seriously their ethical concerns.”

Villasenor said he hopes the UT community will come together to support the charged students as their trials approach, but he has not seen much support for them recently.

“Right now, it just does not seem like there is much energy behind it,” he said.

Villasenor said some members of the Make UT Sweatshop Free Coalition are in the planning stages of initiatives to raise community support before the trial.

While the independent review of UT’s fracking study is still ongoing, University officials said they do not intend to update the study with an acknowledgment that geology professor Charles Groat is a paid board member of Plains Exploration & Production Co., a company that performs hydraulic fracturing.

UT encountered criticism last week after the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit watchdog group, reported Groat, the fracking study’s lead author, and his involvement with the company. University officials said they do not plan to amend the study online.

“It would raise more questions if we began to edit the report that exists online before that review is complete,” UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle said. “It would also be inappropriate to remove a published report from the public view, particularly given the questions that have been raised about it.”

According to the watchdog group’s report released last Tuesday, Groat made $413,900 through Plains Exploration & Production Co. in 2011. Since then, the University has by criticized by the Public Accountability Initiative and various Internet blogs for not including Groat’s board position on his fracking report. The study concluded that fracking does not impose an environmental threat to groundwater.

Provost and executive vice president Steven Leslie announced Wednesday that the University would hire an external, independent team of experts to review the report. Doolittle said the panel has not yet been selected.

“We are still working on the panel,” Doolittle said. “Once the members are identified, I’m sure we’ll note that in some way on the Energy Institute site, but we will not alter the content of the report while the review is being conducted.”

Despite the plans to review, Doolittle said the University and Energy Institution do not think the report is flawed.

“Aside from the issue of disclosure, which has been widely reported, we have received no evidence that the research itself is flawed,” Doolittle said. “That will be for the independent review to decide.”

Groat has not returned The Daily Texan’s requests for comment.

A Washington Post reporter’s decision to share the rough draft of a story with UT media officials before publication has prompted the newspaper to revise its reporting policy to discourage such acts in the future.

The Texas Observer reported Tuesday that Post reporter Daniel de Vise allowed UT media officials to review his story and suggest critical edits — some of which he adopted — before its publication. Although some journalists called de Vise’s actions unethical when news of his actions hit the web, the Post stood behind him. Two days later, the Post is singing a different tune and announced Thursday that in response to the issues raised, it will enact new policies to discourage sharing stories with sources without editorial approval.

Published on the front page of The Washington Post March 14, de Vise’s story, titled “Trying to assess learning gives colleges their own test anxiety,” examined the trend of standardized testing in higher education and used UT as a prime example.

“Our current policy doesn’t prohibit a reporter from sharing a story draft with a source, but we intend to tighten it to ensure that such instances are rare without dispensation from a top editor,” said Marcus Brauchli, Washington Post executive editor, in an e-mail to the Poynter Institute school of journalism.

Brauchli detailed these policy changes in a memo to all Washington Post staffers Thursday afternoon, according to JimRomenesko.com. In the memo, Brauchli said while some reporters covering a specific topic may share sections of their story for accuracy, entire stories should never be sent to sources.

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Gene Burd, associate journalism professor and former Houston Chronicle reporter, said journalists do not share articles with sources.

“You just don’t do it,” Burd said.

It is always unethical to share a full draft of a story with a source prior to publication, Burd said, adding he was shocked to hear of a Washington Post reporter doing so.

“There’s nothing wrong with rechecking and checking and cross-checking, but to provide a story or a text and get the source’s approval before you submit it, or certainly publish it, is just verboten,” he said.

According to the Texas Observer, in a March 5 e-mail to Tara Doolittle, UT’s director of media outreach, de Vise wrote, “Everything here is negotiable. Help me out by not circulating this material very far and by stressing that it is an unpublished draft. If you or anyone at the university has any concerns about it, I implore you to direct them to me. I’m one of a very few reporters here who send drafts to sources!”

Doolittle, along with UT media relations director Gary Susswein, reviewed the story and sent it back to de Vise with their edits. In the e-mails, Susswein said the story was bad and told Doolittle both of them needed to go through it with a heavy red pen. Doolittle told the Texan she checked the draft because the reporter offered and it provided for an extra measure to ensure accuracy. Both Susswein and Doolittle worked as journalists before they assumed their current positions at UT.

Susswein was out of town and not available for comment.

David Bassine, advertising junior and marketing director for Texas New Media, an organization promoting multimedia use in journalism, said the sharing of an article with its source seems unethical because it could inadvertently compromise the integrity of the piece.

“I‘m sure that it could influence something,” he said.

Wanda Cash, associate director of the school of journalism, agreed, telling the Texan she would only condone sharing even a portion of an article with a source in extreme cases to ensure technical accuracy.

“I was in the journalism business for 25 years before I came to UT to teach journalism and I’ve never, in my professional career and now in my academic career, condoned any kind of prior review of stories by news sources,” she said.

Kelly McBride, Poynter Institute journalism professor, said while the practice of sharing an article with a source is controversial, it is not unheard of, and helpful in certain cases.

“It’s best to do it in a way that the source understands that you are doing it simply for accuracy sake and that you’re not turning over editing to the source,” she said in an interview.

McBride said in this case the reporter’s e-mails do seem inappropriate, however, but she believes his intentions were fair.

“If I had been his editor, I would have instructed him to word his e-mails in a way so that he could have articulated his desire for independence as well as his desire for accuracy,” she said.

The University will hire an outside group of experts to review a UT professor’s now controversial study regarding the effects of fracking, a method used by many companies to extract natural gas, on the environment.

Provost and Executive Vice President Steven Leslie announced UT’s intent to review geology professor Charles Groat’s fracking study Tuesday after media reports surfaced that Groat received compensation from an oil company during his research, which turned out to be false. Last week, the Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit public interest research watchdog group, reported Groat has been a member of the Plains Exploration & Production Company’s board for several years. The company does hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Texas and other places around the country. Since the report came out, critics have claimed Groat’s financial ties to the company present a conflict of interest.

Environmentalists have opposed fracking because of concerns to its impact on groundwater. Groat’s report on fracking, which was published by UT’s Energy Institute, claims that fracking has a minimal effect on groundwater contamination.

“The most important asset we have as an institution is the public’s trust,” Leslie said in his statement. “If that is in question, then that is something we need to address.”

UT spokeswoman Tara Doolittle said the team of experts to review Groat’s research has not been selected yet.

“We are working on that now, but we have not identified who they will be yet,” Doolittle said. “We hope it will be soon.”

Doolittle said she did not have an exact timeline for the selection of the team of experts. In his statement, Leslie said UT hopes to have an evaluation on Groat’s study within a few weeks.

Since the Public Accountability Initiative’s report on Groat’s ties came out last week, critics have said Groat should have disclosed his position on the Plains’ board in the study. Doolittle said employees are required to annually make requests for employment outside the University, and while Groat had done so in the past, he did not do so this year.

Leslie said in his statement that Groat was reminded of his obligations to report all outside employment.

“If the University had known about Dr. Groat’s board involvement, the Energy Institute would have included that information in the report,” Leslie said.

Groat did not immediately return The Daily Texan’s request for comment. He told the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday that he did not think revealing his role with the Plains Exploration & Production Company was necessary because he did not write the final report. Groat said he merely coordinated the work of other researchers who wrote the report.