Thanks to last Friday’s premiere of the new The Great Gatsby film, Gatsby fever is in full swing nationwide—and now it’s hit the Forty Acres.
No, that doesn’t mean that Leo DiCaprio is at Gregory Gym (sorry, ladies). The Harry Ransom Center’s latest display, entitled Gatsby’s Many Lives, opened last Friday—and while Leo-less, it provides an intriguing glimpse into the evolution of the novel.
The display follows the course of the novel through several iterations, complete with notes and letters from F. Scott Fitzgerald himself. In one letter to fellow novelist Joseph Hergesheimer, Fitzgerald lamented the book’s initial reception, writing “I’m afraid it’s a financial failure.” Little did he know that some 88 years later, that “financial failure” would become a glittering 3-D Baz Luhrmann adaptation that earned $51.1 million on its opening weekend.
In addition to some of Fitzgerald’s own writings, the display features Francis Cugat’s iconic first-edition dust jacket (pictured below). Cugat reportedly finished the cover before Fitzgerald finished the novel—and according to the display, Fitzgerald loved it so much that “he wrote it into his book.”
Whether you’re just now joining the Gatsby fan club or you’ve been a member since high school, Gatsby’s Many Lives promises to shed new light on an American classic. Visit the display at the Harry Ransom Center, on view through June 9.
Top: Original film still from the 1926 silent film (now lost) of The Great Gatsby. Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center.
Bottom: First edition (1925) of The Great Gatsby. Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center.
Guests at UT’s commencement ceremonies next week can expect some extra security, including bag checks and a ban on large bags.
“This is something we’ve been going toward for years, and the Boston bombings were the catalyst,” UTPD lieutenant and special events coordinator Dennis Chartier tells the Alcalde. “We want to keep everybody safe.”
Chartier calls the balance between security and freedom a “constant challenge” for campus police and administrators. “We certainly don’t want to make it a police state, and we want people to feel free to enjoy the event,” he explains. “If you want one event to go off perfectly, this is the one.”
The decision to tighten security was made by a committee of several University vice presidents, Chartier says. The new rules apply not only to the University-wide commencement ceremony on May 18, but also to all college and school commencement events.
Here’s what graduates and their guests can expect:
- Backpacks, tote bags, and other large bags are banned. Don’t bring a bag larger than 12 in. in any dimension to commencement—you won’t be allowed to bring it in.
- To skip the line, don’t bring a bag at all. Purses and other small bags—such as camera bags—are still permitted, but Chartier says there will be separate lines for bag checks and guests with no bags. “You’ll get in faster if you don’t bring any bag,” he says.
- Don’t bring a cooler, picnic basket, lawn chair, or large stroller. These items have been prohibited for several years.
- Don’t bring anything that can’t be opened and checked by security. Wrapped gifts are probably a bad idea.
- Show up early—but not too early. Guests have always needed to arrive about an hour and a half before the 8 p.m. ceremony to get a seat, Chartier says, and this year you might want to get there a little earlier. “But there’s no need to show up before about 4 p.m.,” he adds. “That’s when we’ll start seating people.”
- Expect a more visible security presence. More police officers and security cameras will be present than in years past.
UT is encouraging guests with questions about commencement to contact the University Events office.
Commencement 2005 (Texas Exes file photo).
Before Spike Lee became one of the United States’ most highly respected film directors, he was a Student Academy Award winner. So were Trey Parker (South Park), Pete Docter (Up), and Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future).
This month, three Longhorns are poised to follow in their footsteps. UT radio-television-film graduate student Deja Bernhardt and alumni Russell O. Bush, MFA ’12, and Brian Schwarz, MFA ’12, are among 38 national finalists in the 2013 Student Academy Awards. The awards are the student version of the Oscars, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Bernhardt, Bush, and Schwarz were selected from more than 500 entrants, and they had to win at a regional level earlier this spring before advancing to the national competition. Each entered a film they produced as part of their UT coursework toward an MFA in film and media production.
“It’s a big honor,” says Bernhardt, whose film The Midwife’s Husband is a finalist in the narrative category. “We’ve all started getting emails from agents and managers, and I’ve never gotten contacted by any of those before. So it’s really cool to have people interested in your work.”
Schwarz’s film Ol’ Daddy is a narrative finalist, while Bush is competing in the documentary category with Vultures of Tibet.
Schwarz says that in addition to its prestige, the Student Academy Awards offer more freedom than many film festivals entered by students. “Festivals have time limits that are pretty restrictive,” he says, “and mine’s a long film at 29 minutes, so that was a limiting factor. This definitely opens some doors.”
The Academy will announce the final winners next week. They will be flown out to Los Angeles for a week of networking and a June 8 awards ceremony.
Photo courtesy lincolnblues on Flickr.
Can’t see the video? Click here.
There’s no doubt that online education is growing rapidly. In 2010, more than 6.1 million students took an online course, and that number continues to grow. But will online classes ever replace in-person education completely? And what should colleges be doing to make the most of new teaching technologies?
UT is taking a best-of-both-worlds approach to those questions, blending digital tools with traditional classroom lectures. In this animation—co-produced by UT, the Texas Exes, and Hack Studios—learn how students and alumni are already benefiting.
Animation by Hack Studios.
Eight students walked to Mezes Courtyard this morning at 6:15 a.m. On a balcony high above the courtyard stood about 20 figures in long, black robes. In the predawn darkness, details were hard to see, and John Warder could just barely make out the dark masks obscuring the robed figures’ faces.
“They asked us to light a candle, and I could barely light my candle because my hands were shaking,” Warder says. “It was really cool and intimate.”
Warder is a UT senior and the director of Camp Texas, the Texas Exes’ student-led summer orientation experience for UT freshmen. He and the rest of the Camp Texas executive team woke up early to receive the Campus Traditions Award from the Eyes of Texas—a UT secret society founded in 1975.
“We have been watching,” wrote someone from the society in an email to Warder a few days earlier, “and are impressed with the work you have done to bring the Camp Texas experience to so many incoming freshmen each year.” The email instructed Warder and his fellow student leaders to come to the courtyard to receive their award.
“Our student members remain anonymous so that their leadership and achievements are reflected in the excellence of UT,” the email continued.
An Eyes of Texas member read aloud the text of the award and asked the students to light candles. The Tejas Club also received the same award for its Tejas Coffee event series, which has featured speakers like UT professor Bob Metcalfe and football defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Then, after less than 10 minutes, the ceremony was over.
Not much is known about the Eyes of Texas, but if you’re so inclined, you can follow them on Twitter. (Yes, this is a secret society with a Twitter handle.)
April 18 update: The Eyes of Texas has let us know that contrary to what Warder said, their robes aren’t black: “We wear burnt orange robes, of course,” they tweeted.
The Camp Texas executive team after receiving the Campus Traditions Award. Photo courtesy Kelsey Roberts.
She’s taught at UT, MIT, Princeton, and Harvard. She’s performed extensive research on women’s political activism, constitutional law and history, democratic movements, and work-family policy. She’s published three books, along with multiple articles and essays. She’s been vice provost for undergraduate education and faculty governance at UT. She’s also been the director and co-chair to many prestigious programs at the University.
You’d think Gretchen Ritter has just about done it all. But she’s about to add a new position to the list: the first female dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University.
“I am pleased and excited to be returning to Cornell, my alma mater, but I will also be sorry to leave my friends, colleagues, and students here at UT-Austin,” Ritter said in a press release.
Since 1992, Ritter has been a part of the UT faculty as the former director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and co-chair of the Gender Equity Task Force. She noted that she enjoyed the time spent with Steven Leslie, the University’s provost and executive vice president, who will step down and return to teaching and research at the University in August.
“I have been at UT for more than 20 years, and it has been a real privilege over the last four years to work in the provost’s office with our exceptional provost, Steven Leslie, and our other vice provosts,” Ritter said. “I believe we have been successful in moving the University forward in several areas, and I have no doubt that with strong leadership the University will continue to advance in the years to come.”
Although Ritter will begin her new position at Cornell as of Aug. 1, she won’t be forgetting her time here on the Forty Acres.
“I will always have a special place in my heart for UT-Austin,” she said.
Photo courtesy The University of Texas at Austin.
A few lucky UT students were given a whole new perspective this past Saturday as they flew over the Forty Acres in a restored World War II-era Boeing B-17 Bomber.
Michel Oxford, one of four Normandy Scholars chosen to ride in the plane, says the experience was eye-opening. “We attempt to paint a picture of what World War II was like, but today I felt as much a part of that picture as those involved.”
The Frank Denius Normandy Scholars Program, established in 1989, annually chooses about 20 students from different disciplines across campus, bringing them together for an in-depth study of World War II. Over the course of the program, scholars have the opportunity to attend lectures, meet veterans and Holocaust survivors, and travel to WWII sites in Europe.
The half-hour flight conducted by the Collings Foundation, an educational nonprofit that hosts nationwide “living history” events, gave the scholars a rare opportunity to experience the life of a World War II airman firsthand. The students were able to crawl from crew station to crew station, simulating the duties of a real-life bomber mission.
Matt Hammons, BA ’97, a former Normandy Scholar, sponsored the flight in one of only 12 operational B-17s in the United States. “They’ve all seen movies and read books about World War II,” Hammons says. “But now they know what it feels like to climb in that bomber—what it looks like, what it feels like, what it smells like. They know what the individuals involved really went through.”
Top, from left: Michael Oxford, Alexandra Bass, Jenny Tamlyn, program Associate Director Francoise de Backer, and Tyler Schulze.
Photo courtesy of Matt Hammons.
They say they all lived happily ever after—but what really happened to the Disney princesses after their dreams came true? According to UT sophomore Jon “Paint” Cozart, Ariel is swimming through oil spills, Aladdin has been taken by the CIA, and Pocahontas has been fighting off the English, French, and Spanish settlers—and their respective diseases.
Cozart’s “After Ever After” video is just one of 15 comic YouTube videos he’s created over the last seven years. The film major, who took voice lessons for a year in high school, started creating YouTube videos for class projects when he was younger, but he says they’d only get about 100 views in a year. “After Ever After” has racked up more than five million views in fewer than 10 days.
Cozart says he came up with idea with a friend, and he was excited that he’d finally have an excuse to sing the Disney songs that he loves. He says the audio took him about a month to record and edit, while the video took about five hours to film and an additional five hours to edit. “The hardest part is finding the time to make the videos,” he says. “I’m a full-time college student, I’m in some theater shows at UT, and I’m part of an improv troupe.”
Though the process is time-consuming, Cozart says it’s completely worth it. ”It’s been amazing, and there’s been incredible reactions,” Cozart says. “I’ve been getting emails and comments from people all over the world. Everything has just been overwhelmingly positive.”
With more than 13 million views, Cozart’s most popular video to date is “Harry Potter in 99 Seconds,” which retells the series through two-part harmony.
Cozart isn’t entirely sure what his next video will be, but he has no shortage of ideas. Possibilities include his own spin on a song from the movie Pitch Perfect, or a video featuring the rest of the Disney princesses.
He plans on making YouTube videos for as long as he can, and aspires to one day direct feature films. “It’s a long shot, I know,” he says. “But I think if anyone can do it, I can do it.”
All-star Texas A&M quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner, and … secret Longhorn fan?
Yep, Aggies everywhere are cringing today thanks to a very surprising photo of Johnny Manziel—AKA Johnny Football and all-around A&M golden boy—that is going viral online.
In the photo, which was first posted on Busted Coverage, Manziel is pictured posing shirtless with friends on vacation in Cabo San Lucas. The kicker: very visible on his abdomen is a tattoo—of a Longhorn!
Whether the tattoo is fake or Photoshopped remains to be seen, but the image led Busted Coverage to do a little digging into Manziel’s background. Turns out, there may be reason to believe the tat is legitimate.
According to his bio on the Aggie Athletics site, Manziel grew up dreaming of playing on the Forty Acres, even sporting burnt-orange gear around his hometown of Tyler, Texas.
What do you think: real or fake?
Update: Manziel himself put the debate to rest last night on Twitter:
Photo courtesy Busted Coverage.
Every year at the finale of the Explore UT open house, University photographer Marsha Miller corrals thousands of visitors, students, faculty, and staff into a meaningful shape—in previous years, it’s been a heart or the letters “UT”—and snaps a photo from the Tower.
This year’s Texas-sized photo, taken on Texas Independence Day, featured the Alpha Phi Omega Texas flag. Read more about this year’s Explore UT here.
Photo by Marsha Miller.
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