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Consice News Stories - Scott Kabrich
Scott Kabrich

August, 2010

Business News - San Antonio/Surrounding Area

AT&T's corporate credit rating falters - AT&T Inc. has been put on a negative credit watch by Standard & Poor's, meaning S&P thinks the company may not be able to maintain its A corporate credit rating.  In a research update on the rating, S&P said that while it expects AT&T to continue generating cash, it's concerned about the company's ability to reduce debt.  On Tuesday, a day before S&P issued its rating, Fitch Ratings gave AT&T an A rating with a stable outlook and Moody's Investors Service gave the company an A2 rating with a stable outlook.

Tesoro's profits top analysts' predictions - San Antonio-based refiner Tesoro Corp. posted a profit Wednesday for the first time since the third quarter of 2009, as results were buoyed by a one-time tax benefit and stronger margins on diesel fuel. Tesoro earned $67 million, or 47 cents a share, compared with a loss of $45 million, or 33 cents a share, for the same period one year ago. At Tesoro's Anacortes plant near Seattle, seven employees died as a result of a fire and explosion on April 2.  Tesoro closed the plant temporarily, and Goff said the plant “should be operational” as early as September as repair work is going well.

USAA posts solid figures, stays bullish - USAA's financial results for the first half of the year showed improvement in just about every metric the privately held San Antonio financial-services company disclosed.   Only USAA's bottom line was off, falling about 6 percent to $1.34 billion in the six months ended June 30.  USAA's net worth was just under $18 billion at the midyear point, up 13.7 percent from $15.8 billion at the same time last year.  Revenue was nearly $9 billion in the first half, a 4.6 percent increase from the $8.6 billion posted at the halfway point last year.  USAA had $90.7 billion in assets as of June 30, compared with $74.9 billion a year ago.

Lee Michaels to open at La Cantera - Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry is opening a 4,000-square-foot store Monday at the Shops at La Cantera. It's the company's eighth store and its second in San Antonio. Lee Michaels has been family-owned for more than 30 years and opened its first store in San Antonio at North Star Mall in 2000. The company also has five stores in Louisiana and one in Jackson, Miss.  Company vice president Ryan Berg recently moved from Louisiana to San Antonio to oversee both stores. He is the son of company founder Lee Michael Berg.

Cullen/Frost's 40% surge beats earnings forecasts - Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc.'s net income surged almost 40 percent last quarter on an increase in bank deposits and a decline in problem loans. The San Antonio-based bank holding company posted net income of $52.9 million, or 87 cents a share in the three months ended June 30. That compares with net income of $37.9 million, or 63 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.  Second-quarter earnings surpassed the 80-cent average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.  “Cullen/Frost is one of the best banks in the country, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that credit quality improved this quarter,” said Brett Rabatin, a senior analyst with Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. “Overall, it was a really strong quarter.”  The parent of Frost Bank reported average annual deposits for the quarter of $13.8 billion, up from $12.2 billion in the second quarter of 2009.

KCI misses earnings expectations Restructuring charges and other costs caused San Antonio medical technology company Kinetic Concepts Inc. to misfire on its second-quarter earnings results. KCI's shares Tuesday fell more than $3, or nearly 9 percent, before rebounding to close at $36.29, down 38 cents for the day.  The company recorded $12.7 million in expenses related to inventory write-offs and “employee separation costs” in the latest quarter. A KCI spokesman had no immediate information on job losses.  KCI earned $53.6 million, or 75 cents a share, on record second-quarter revenue of $497.8 million. Earnings fell 7.7 percent from the same period last year, when KCI posted net income of $58.1 million, or 82 cents a share, on $491.3 million in revenue.

Valero back to making a profit again - Valero Energy Corp. swung to a profit Tuesday, marking its first period in the black since the first three months of 2009. The San Antonio-based refiner and marketer logged net income of $583 million, or $1.03 a share, compared with a loss of $254 million, or 48 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.

Clear Channel named new COO - Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, 90 percent held by San Antonio-based CC Media Holdings Inc., on Monday announced that Joseph Bagan has been named chief operating officer — Americas, effective immediately. Bagan will be based in the Clear Channel Outdoor's Phoenix offices, and report to Ron Cooper, president and CEO of Clear Channel Outdoor — Americas. Bagan's appointment to the new post completes a realignment of the company's operating structure that includes the recent framework of four regional group presidents.  Those group presidents, as well as the leaders of Clear Channel Outdoor Airports, Operations and Information Technology, will report to Bagan. Bagan joins Clear Channel Outdoor from Sharklet Technologies, a Denver-based biotechnology company, where he has been CEO since 2007.

Gov. Perry: San Antonio Hispanic Chamber Promotes, Powers Texas Economy - Gov. Rick Perry spoke at a press conference announcing the new San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC) office.  “With your focus on Hispanic-owned businesses, you have helped countless companies break down barriers and contribute to the local economy in very tangible ways,” Gov. Perry said.  SAHCCs new offices will be located at The Pearl, formerly known as the Pearl Brewery. The SAHCC is the oldest of its kind, the first chamber in San Antonio and the first Hispanic chamber in the U.S. to be accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, receiving its designation as a 4-Star Accredited Chamber.

San Antonio to Host World's Largest Water Pollution Prevention Conference August 2-5 - The world's foremost experts on storm and surface-water quality will convene in San Antonio, TX August 2 – 5 to explore the newest water pollution prevention and mitigation technologies, share their recent experiences and discuss which strategies are most effective in minimizing surface water pollution.   Returning to the Lone Star State for the first time in 7 years, StormCon is packed with Texas and Southwest-specific content and courses, including an entire educational track presented by Texas A&M in cooperation with the Lower Rio Grande Valley TPDES Stormwater Task Force and the South Texas Environmental Institute.  Other key presenters will include Stormwater experts from the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas A&M and the Texas Transportation Institute.  Participants include Bechtel, EPA, Brown & Caldwell, US Air Force, Tetra Tech, HDR, Texas A&M, Target, NASA, Home Depot, AMEC, US Geological Survey, PBS&J, and the University of California.  Key personnel from the cities of Dallas, Abilene, Round Rock, Austin, Atlanta, San Diego, Calgary, Chattanooga, Baltimore, Santa Monica, Plano, Minneapolis, Garland, Bexar County and Indianapolis will also be attending.

Prime Engineering and Architecture sees San Antonio as growth market - Prime Engineering and Architecture Inc. has announced it will open a new office in San Antonio soon.  The firm is currently on the hunt for office space, says Jack Marchbanks, Prime’s business development director — although he declined to divulge specifics, citing ongoing negotiations.  The local office would mark the fourth location in the U.S. for Columbus, Ohio-based Prime — which also has offices in Hartford, Conn.; and Baltimore, Md. The company is already familiar with the Texas market, explains Marchbanks — given its work with the Fort Worth District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the past three years.

Business News - Texas 

NTEC launches program to find venture capital for Dallas-area firms - Frisco business incubator NTEC Inc. launched a new program Monday with 10 mostly out-of-state venture capital partners to reinvigorate investments in Dallas and beyond.  NTEC's Venture Alliance Partner Program is designed "to address the burning need in the region by companies that have been struggling so mightily to attract venture capital," said NTEC executive director Larry Calton. "And we want to bring in the venture capitalists and show them there are good deals here in Texas."   The venture partners, including one Dallas firm, will meet with entrepreneurs during "office hours" at NTEC from two days a month to two days each quarter. Any company in the Southwest can apply to the program.   Seven-year-old NTEC, which provides office and lab space and support services to medical and clean technology companies, will help identify and screen companies and coordinate meetings with investors. Southern Methodist University business students will help with due diligence and market research of applicants.

 Citi Private Bank Hires Managing Director In Dallas - Citi Private Bank has hired Robby Berry, formerly of J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), as a private banker in Dallas.  Berry, a managing director, will report to Mark Connally, head of Citi Private Bank's U.S. southwest region.  As an adviser with J.P. Morgan Private Wealth Management, Berry worked with ultra-high-net-worth families in and around Dallas. Before joining J.P. Morgan in 2008, he established and managed the Dallas office of Morgan Keegan, the retail-brokerage unit of Regions Financial Corporation (RF). With a view to doubling its private-banker count to about 260 by 2012, Citi Private Bank has been hiring aggressively this year. In addition to Berry's appointment in Dallas, the business unit recently named Nancy Pellegrino head of its operations in the Pacific Northwest, and made other senior-level appointments around the country.

3 Dallas executives give $1 million each to target Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, other Democrats - AUSTIN – Dallas oilman Trevor Rees-Jones may not know Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but he's betting $1 million that he can make the Nevada Democrat's political life more difficult these days. Rees-Jones is helping bankroll a group spearheaded by Karl Rove and funded largely by Texans to air TV spots attacking Reid and other Democrats.  Virginia-based American Crossroads has raised $4.7 million – two-thirds of it from Texans, of 29 donors to American Crossroads, 20 are from the Lone Star State – for a national effort. Three Dallas billionaires are providing much of the money.  Rees-Jones, president and CEO of privately held Chief Oil and Gas, and investors Harold Simmons and Robert Rowling have given $1 million each.

National Instruments Q2 beats Street view - National Instruments, a supplier of measurement and automation products, reported better-than-expected second-quarter profit, helped by higher product and software sales.  The company also forecast third-quarter profit outlook, the lower end of which was in line with the consensus view, and said it is looking to scale up investment expenditure in line with revenue growth. The company had last year announced the decision to limit investment expenditure to 50 percent of revenue growth to lock in profitability. The company said it sees third-quarter adjusted earnings between 32 cents a share and 42 cents a share, and revenue in a range of $206 million to $220 million. For the second quarter, the company had a net income of $24.6 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with $4.4 million, or 6 cents a share, last year.

Silicon Laboratories sees shares slide on outlook - Silicon Laboratories reported second-quarter earnings that were well ahead of Wall Street's projections early Wednesday, but shares in the Integrated circuit maker slid on a third-quarter revenue outlook that left investors wanting.  The Austin, Texas, company posted net income of $21 million, or 44 cents per share, on $134.6 million in revenue for the three months ended July 3. That compares with net income of $9.7 million, or 21 cents per share, on $104.2 million in revenue in the same three months last year.

Applied Materials hiring 200 workers in Austin - Applied Materials Inc. is adding regular full-time jobs in Austin for the first time in three years, the company announced Monday. The largest maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment said it is going to add more than 200 jobs over the next three months, of which more than 100 will be new full-time positions primarily involved in manufacturing and logistics. The remaining jobs will be for temporary contractors.  Applied, which was stung by declining sales and heavy losses in 2009, is seeing a turnaround for fiscal 2010, with sales up 76 percent in the first six months.  For the latest quarter, the company's sales of chip manufacturing equipment totaled $1.4 billion, up 440 percent from last year.  Austin is the company's primary center for chip equipment manufacturing. Applied has 1,500 full-time workers and 750 contractors here. The company had about 2,500 full-time workers in Austin at the end of 2007.

Fluor Reports Record New Awards - Fluor Corporation  today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2010. Net earnings attributable to Fluor were $157 million, or $0.87 per diluted share, compared with $169 million or $0.93 per diluted share for the same period last year New project awards for the second quarter were a record $9.3 billion, surpassing the company's previous high for a single quarter, well above the quarterly run rate of approximately $3 billion in the prior three quarters.

Tidewater Elects Morris E. Foster To Its Board of Directors Tidewater today announced the election of Morris E. Foster to its Board of Directors for a term expiring in July 2011. Tidewater Inc. owns 390 vessels, the world's largest fleet of vessels serving the global offshore energy industry.  Morris E. Foster retired in 2008 as Vice President of ExxonMobil Corporation and President of ExxonMobil Production Company following more than 40 years of service with the ExxonMobil group. Mr. Foster currently serves as Chairman of Stagecoach/Mill Creek Resort, a destination resort in Salado, Texas and as Chairman of the Board of Regents of Texas A&M University and serves on the boards of Scott & White Medical Institute, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, Greater Houston Partnership, and First State Bank of Temple Texas. Additionally, Mr. Foster is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the Texas Oil & Gas Association. Mr. Foster was inducted into Texas A&M University's Academy of Distinguished Graduates in 1993.

Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. Board Names Former Exxon Mobil General Counsel Charles Matthews a Houston Director - SAN ANTONIO, July 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Charles W. Matthews, former general counsel of Exxon and Exxon Mobil Corporation, has been named to the board of directors of Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc., the financial holding company of Frost, as a Houston director.  Matthews spent his entire career at Exxon, the world's largest energy company, joining the company's law department in 1971 and rising to become vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Among many career highlights, he was responsible for coordinating the legal and regulatory efforts to facilitate the merger between Exxon Corporation and Mobil Corporation. As general counsel, he oversaw the company's law department, consisting of more than 460 lawyers with offices in 40 countries. He was the 11th general counsel in Exxon's 125-year history. Matthews retired from Exxon Mobil Corporation earlier this year and is a native Houstonian. 

What the Dell settlement means for Intel - Though last week's settlement between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Dell was anticipated -- the computer maker admitted no wrongdoing and agreed to pay about $100 million in fines -- it was nevertheless a stunning event both in terms of the charges it leveled against Dell and those it reinforced against semiconductor giant Intel.  In its complaint, the SEC alleges that, from May 2001 through January 2006, Dell  created the false impression that it had met or exceeded analysts' consensus earnings-per-share expectations in 20 straight quarters. In reality, says the SEC, Dell wouldn't have met its numbers once during that period without secret payments from Intel that were made in exchange for Dell's agreement not to use any AMD chips.  Thus, the SEC has now become the sixth regulatory body worldwide -- and the third in the United States -- to conclude that Intel made improper payments throughout much of the last decade to persuade computer makers to bar or sharply limit their use of AMD chips.  

 Business News - National

Chevron earnings triple - NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) Chevron Corp, the second-largest U.S. oil company, reported a three-fold jump in quarterly profit, beating expectations as refinery margins fattened.  Chevron's second-quarter net income jumped to $5.4 billion, or $2.70 per share, from $1.75 billion, or 87 cents per share, a year before.;_ylt=AvQaHG9G1XXB5szwsOyrup.yBhIF;_ylu=X3oDMTJiYmRucXM4BGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTAwNzMwL3VzX2NoZXZyb24EY3BvcwMzBHBvcwM2BHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcnkEc2xrA2NoZXZyb25lYXJuaQ--

BP hiring former FEMA head for Gulf recovery - BP announced Friday that it is hiring a former Clinton-era emergency management official and his consulting firm to help with the recovery from the massive Gulf oil spill. Incoming BP CEO Bob Dudley was in Biloxi to outline his company's long-term efforts to help the Gulf. The company said they include hiring former Federal Emergency Management Agency head James Lee Witt and Witt Associates, a public safety and crisis management consulting firm. BP did not say how much Witt would be paid.

US STOCKS-Futures edges down ahead of Q2 growth data - U.S. stock index futures slipped Friday as investors turned cautious ahead of a report expected to show slowing growth in the U.S. economy in the second quarter.  The Commerce Department's gross domestic product (GDP) report, the first estimate of economic growth for the April-June period, is due at 8:30 a.m.  The data is expected to show growth slowing in the second quarter as a capital investment drive by business was sated by imports and consumer spending tapered off.   Investors have been rattled by disappointing data recently, and more are talking about the possibility of a double-dip recession.

Education News - San Antonio/Surrounding Area

Southside ISD proposes tax rate change - The Southside Independent School District Board of Trustees may ask voters to approve a tax rate change to boost revenue in light of a nearly $10 million decline in assessed property values within the district in the past year.  District officials say the change — which would increase one portion of the tax rate and decrease another — would not raise the overall tax rate of about $1.37 per $100 valuation. Officials believe that the swap may yield an additional $2.7 million because of the way the state weights funding for certain portions of the tax rate.

A&M-San Antonio names new executives - Texas A&M University-San Antonio has named Brent Snow provost and vice president for academic affairs, Charles G. Rodriguez as vice president for strategic initiatives, institutional advancement and military affairs, and Kenneth Mitts as chief financial officer. Snow is associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of West Georgia and will move to Texas in August. Rodriguez is a graduate of West Point and retired from the U.S. Army, where he spent four years as Adjutant General of Texas. Mitts has been serving as interim CFO at A&M-San Antonio since April 2008; before that, he spent two decades in the Air Force.

Universities partner to offer degrees on Northeast Side - The Alamo Colleges opened University Center on Wednesday at the old Northeast Lakeview campus on Pat Booker Road, an outpost where area students can earn a bachelor's or master's degree after completing the core curriculum at another university or community college.  The center is a partnership between the Alamo Colleges and five area universities — Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, University of the Incarnate Word, Wayland Baptist University and St. Mary's University. Beginning this fall, the five universities will offer 20 different bachelor's and master's degrees, with a focus on nursing, computer science, education and administration.  Officials estimate an initial enrollment of 375, a number that will likely grow quickly in the 75,000-square-foot facility, which has the capacity to serve at least 3,500.  Trustees for the Alamo Colleges spent $9 million buying and renovating the building — a former Albertson's grocery store — to serve as a temporary home for its fifth college, Northeast Lakeview.

Researcher sues UTSA over funding - Kelly Jo Suter, a professor of computational biology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, has sued the university and several administrators and professors for negligence and breach of contract, claiming they did not deliver in a timely fashion on a written promise of a $330,000 startup package for a laboratory.  Suter, who studies the activity of brain neurons, had two active grants from the National Institutes of Health when she came to UTSA.   Due to a long delay in receiving startup funds, Suter claims she was unable to publish her research in a timely manner, causing the NIH to dock her research salary.  Suter also accused her colleagues at UTSA of lying to the NIH about the financial support the university was providing her. “They have compromised my work and my federal stewardship,” Suter said. “It is a privilege to spend the nickel of a man who swings a mop every day so I can do my science. They violated that trust, and it is devastating to me.”  David Gabler, a university spokesman, said the allegations in the lawsuit are untrue, but wouldn't comment on the details.

Alamo Colleges eyeing taxes, tuition - Facing a $12 million budget shortfall next year, leaders at the Alamo Colleges are proposing tax and tuition increases on top of eliminating jobs and freezing wages and hiring.   “People are saying, ‘I feel like we have been rooting around in the cushions of the couch and are not coming up with any spare change, just peanuts and popcorn,'” Chancellor Bruce Leslie said after a four-day budget retreat with faculty and staff leaders.  The community college district is not alone in its pain. Gov. Rick Perry has ordered all state agencies to cut 5 percent of state dollars out of next year's budget, forcing them to slash quickly. In the upcoming biennium, Perry has asked colleges to plan for an additional 10 percent cutback, a reduction educators say will hit their core mission: teaching.

NVCC named a leader among community colleges - Completion rates are the bane of the community college. Even some of the most highly respected two-year colleges have degree attainment rates in the single digits. Many students go in; few come out. The majority become mired in remediation, or lose their way amid the pressures of family life and work. So, the charts and graphs released this week by the nonprofit Achieving the Dream to plot the progress of Northern Virginia Community College stand out.  NVCC was cited Tuesday as one of seven Leader Colleges, for "demonstrating sustained improvement and accomplishments" in student achievement.  The focus of Achieving the Dream is on creating a "culture of evidence" to identify problems that prevent students from graduating and potential solutions.  The other Leader Colleges: Alamo Colleges in San Antonio, Texas; Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas; Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn.; Martin Community College in Williamston, N.C.; Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Penn.; and Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima, Wash.

Education News - Texas

Committee calls for educational efficiency - An advisory committee seeking to make Texas higher education more efficient recommended Thursday that the state make better use of online courses and “no-frills” education and tie state funds to course completion rather than enrollment.  Other suggestions included pushing students to finish college in four years and requiring them to complete 10 percent of their degrees outside the classroom.  Mandated last year by Gov. Rick Perry, the 20-member committee of business and education leaders presented a draft report to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board meeting in Austin. A final report will go to the governor's desk before Nov. 1.

Texans lag in college degrees - WASHINGTON — Texas is one of the least college-educated states in the country, according to a study released Thursday by the College Board, the company that administers the SAT and AP tests. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Texas ranks 40th for residents 25 to 34 who hold an associate’s degree or higher.  Only 27 percent of Texans in that age range have earned a postsecondary degree, according to the study, which looked at data from 2007.  That’s far below the national average of 41 percent.

Austin below state average for science proficiency - Students in Austin Public Schools are below the state average for science proficiency, according to the latest batch of MCA test results released Tuesday.  About 37 percent of all the Austin fifth- and eighth-graders and high school sophomores who took the MCA-II science test in spring either met or exceeded state standards for proficiency.  The statewide science proficiency for all students tested this year was 48.6 percent, a 2.8 percentage point increase compared to last year.

Report details gifts to Houston school officials - AP Technology vendors bidding for business with the Houston School District gave free tickets to Rockets playoff games, free cell phones and a fishing trip on a yacht to district employees, a law firm hired by the district has found. The law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, in a recently released memo, outlined the findings of its investigation into allegations of gift-giving that cost taxpayers an $850,000 fine and froze access to the program for a year, the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday. A federal investigation found that that technology vendors trying to get business in the state's largest school district gave the perks over several years.  The U.S. Department of Justice accused the district of violating competitive-bidding rules, saying the gifts could influence who got contracts. In 2006, the department froze the district's access to federal funding through the so-called E-rate technology program.

TEA set to release school accountability ratings - The Texas Education Agency is grading schools this year based on a measure that allows students credit for improvement even if they fail the standardized test.  Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott is set to release school accountability ratings Friday.  e recently cautioned that student progress is being overshadowed by criticism of the Texas Projection Measure. That boosts school ratings by factoring in a projection of students' future performances on the test.  In a letter to school administrators earlier this month, Scott said he may suspend the practice in 2011.

State board votes to tap Texas' public education fund to help build charter schools - A sharply divided State Board of Education opened the door today to tapping the state's education trust fund for charter school facilities, despite warnings that the action could harm the fund. Pushed by the board's social conservative bloc, the decision could allow up to $100 million of the Permanent School Fund to be used to construct or purchase buildings that would be leased to some of the state's 460 independent charter schools.

Higher Ed Coordinating Board Releases Progress Report - With 10 years of it complete, it’s time to check in on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 15-year initiative to close the gaps between Texas and other states in student achievement in higher education.   A progress report released this week by the THECB shows that enrollment around the state has continued to climb as have the number of degrees conferred. The fall of 2009 brought with it 122,000 new college students in Texas, including 20,000 students in career colleges. When the Closing the Gaps initiative began, 4.9 percent of the Texas population participated in higher education. That number is now up to 5.8 percent. The report notes that "African Americans became the best-represented of the three major ethnicities in Texas higher education, with a 6.5 percent participation rate and enrollment that already exceeded 2010 and 2015 targets."

Why Does Texas Rank Last in High School Diplomas? - How can Texas rank last in the nation — 51st — in the percentage of adults with high school diplomas, and simultaneously rank 22nd in the percentage attending at least some college?  The complicated answer involves more than the quality of the K-12 education system. The figures, based on the percentage of adults over 25 years old with various levels of education, come from a review of 2008 census bureau data by the Brookings Institution, which put data on education attainment from every state into this nifty web widget. It came as part of a larger study called the State of Metropolitan America, released in May (which includes some other interesting data on Texas cities).  In a ranking of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in educational attainment, Texas was all over the map: 51st in high school (79.6 percent); 22nd in some college (22.6 percent); 44th in associate’s degrees (6.3 percent); 31st in bachelor’s degrees (25.3 percent); and 36th in graduate degrees (8.3 percent).

News about Texas colleges -

Austin Community College graduates ranked highest among Texas community colleges and eighth among all institutions of higher learning in the state in passing rates on the exam for qualifying as a certified public accountant.  The 18 ACC graduates who took the test from April through June passed 65 percent of the sections they attempted. Lone Star College in the northern Houston metro area ranked second among community colleges, with 63 percent.  University of Texas graduates ranked fourth overall, passing 80 percent of the sections they attempted. Texas A&M University ranked fifth at 75 percent.  Among other schools in Central Texas, St. Edward's University graduates passed 56 percent of the sections they attempted; Texas State University graduates, 52 percent; and Southwestern University, 36 percent.

Baylor President Ken Starr named Elizabeth Davis executive vice president and provost this week. She is the first woman to hold the position in the Baptist institution's 165-year history.  Davis, a professor of accounting at Baylor, has been interim provost for the past two years.  The provost is the university's chief academic officer.

Education News - National 

US Drops to 12th in Young Adults with College Degrees - The College Board, which first set the agenda to have 55 percent of America’s with a post-secondary degree by 2025, says the U.S. has fallen to 12th among developed countries in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with an associate degree or higher.  Only 40.4 percent of young adult Americans have an associate degree or higher, compared with 55.8 percent of the same age group in Canada and 55.5 percent in both Korea and the Russian Federation.  In contrast, the percentage  of Americans 55- to 64-year-olds with an associate degree or higher ranks fourth in the world with 38.5, lagging behind only the Russian Federation at 44.5 percent, Israel at 43.5 percent and Canada, at 38.9 percent.

Report: Colleges don't do enough to stop student drinking - College administrators do recognize that student drinking is a major problem, but they focus on individual interventions and campus-based alcohol restrictions. They need to do more work with communities to develop policies to reduce excess drinking by students, such as monitoring of illegal sales of alcohol and limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets, according to study author Toben Nelson.

Is College Necessary? Fewer Americans Think So - Throughout America, popular opinion on college is shifting: More people now see it as an unnecessary waste of money, a new survey reveals. The Wall Street Journal reports:  ...of 3,000 people, 63.5% said a college education is still a good financial investment for young adults given rising costs, compared to 79.1% last year and 80.9% in 2008. The declining sentiment is reflected across all age groups -- 63.5% of those aged 18-29 said college is a good investment, compared to 76.7% last year. Just 61.5% of those over 65 years old said it is a good investment -- 82.1% said the same in 2009.  The survey, administered by COUNTRY Financial, also provided data that showed a large percentage of Americans are prioritizing retirement over college, a change for those who earn less than $20,000 a year.

Proposed federal rules target for-profit colleges - The Education Department proposed much-anticipated regulations Friday that would cut off federal aid to for-profit college programs if too many of their students default on loans or don't earn enough after graduation to repay them.  To qualify for federal student aid programs, career college programs must prepare students for "gainful employment." The Obama administration, amid intense lobbying from both for-profit college officials and consumer and student advocates, is proposing a complicated formula that would weigh both the debt-to-income ratio of recent graduates and whether all enrolled students repay their loans on time, regardless of whether they finish their studies.

Grant/Grantmaker News - San Antonio/Surrounding Area

Baptist Health Foundation boosts contributions to San Antonio groups -Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio has increased its grant funding to area community health organizations by 12.7 percent.  Twenty-six organizations have been awarded grants totaling $153,336. These awards were approved by the board of directors’ mini-grant committee. The committee provides grants of up to $7,500 to help organizations meet the health care needs of the people they serve.  Some of the organizations included in this round of funding include the American Diabetes Association, Daily Bread Ministries-San Antonio, Down Syndrome Association of San Antonio and Roy Maas’ Youth Alternatives Inc.

San Antonio researcher wins $450000 grant to advance arthritis treatments - Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research scientist Lorena M. Havill has been awarded major financial support for her research into the genetic causes of osteoarthritis.Havill, an assistant scientist in the research foundation’s Department of Genetics, will receive $450,000 in funding over the next three years from the Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Fund. Dr. Havill will use this funding to advance research in osteoarthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States. Osteoarthritis affects more than 20 million people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

 Susan G. Komen furnishes new round of grants to fight breast cancer - The San Antonio Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure awarded nine grants totaling $850,000 to provide screening, treatment and education programs to women in the Alamo City.   The local affiliate also contributed an additional $150,000 to fund breast cancer research.  Komen grants are designed to remove barriers to breast health care, particularly at this time of economic uncertainly and elevated unemployment. Money for this grant program was raised through the annual Susan G. Komen San Antonio Race for the Cure. Specifically, the money will be used to pay for breast exams, mammograms and biopsies; treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation; treatment support, such as counseling services, transportation, diet and nutrition classes; and health education.

Skyonic wins $25M federal grant for carbon-capture technology - An Austin company that plans to build an industrial carbon capture plant in San Antonio has won a $25 million grant from the Department of Energy. Skyonic Corp. received the largest of six grants, part of the federal economic stimulus program, that the department announced Thursday. All of the recipient companies are working on projects that convert industrial carbon dioxide emissions into products such as fuel, plastics and fertilizers, according to the Energy Department.  Skyonic's San Antonio plant will convert carbon dioxide into baking soda and other chemicals that can be resold, said Jack Lynch , the company's chief financial officer.  The grant — the second of its kind that Skyonic has received — will help fund the company's Capitol-Skymine project at the Capitol Aggregates Ltd. cement plant in San Antonio. Earlier this year, Skyonic received $3 million from the Department of Energy toward the same project.  Skyonic plans to operate at a profit through the sale of byproducts and generate more than 200 jobs in Texas, company officials have said.  The company was founded in 2005 and has been supported largely by California investor Carl Berg. Berg also is founder of and a major investor in Valence Technology Inc., an Austin-based maker of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Wells Fargo donation to help stop family violence - SAN ANTONIO -- Wachovia and Wells Fargo announced a merger 18 months ago. But Monday, the conversion officially happened in San Antonio.  News 4 WOAI cameras were there for the ribbon cutting on the former Wachovia Bank campus on Wiseman Drive, which is now Wells Fargo. During the event, the company also donated $25,000 to the Battered Women and Children's Shelter.  "We're giving grants from 5 to 25-thousand for 5 nonprofits in San Antonio, with Family Violence Services being the winner, voted on by our customers, receiving the largest $25,000 grant" explained Steve Arnold, Community Bank President of Wells Fargo.

Grant/Grantmaker News - Texas 

Portuguese grant awarded - The Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal has awarded the equivalent of $1.5 million to UT and Portuguese researchers to expand the use of advanced digital media in that country.  One project in the works would evaluate the potential of so-called digital interactive television to promote health care and wellness services to Portuguese residents 55 and older with low technology literacy. The results will also give researchers a better understanding of how to distribute health information in the United States. Another project will use computers to teach people with autism to recognize facial emotions.  The UT researchers include advertising, communication, information and engineering professors.

Comptroller Combs Awards $2.5 Million in Scholarship Funds to 54 Texas Community Colleges - Across the state this fall, 54 community colleges and public technical colleges will receive a total of $2.5 million from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs to use for student scholarships this school year.  The JET (Jobs & Education for Texans) Career and Technical Scholarship Fund provides tuition grants to award scholarships to students enrolled in approved training programs for several highdemand occupations. Recipient schools offer training programs in engineering technology, welding, precision production, computer support, mechanical and repair technology, construction, health professions and other degree plans where a certificate or an associate degree is a basic prerequisite.

Baylor College of Medicine Awarded $14.85 Million - Neurological research at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and Texas Children's Hospital is getting a big boost in the form of a $14.85 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to complete two floors of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children's Hospital.  "More than 300 million children suffer from a neurological deficit, but the percentage of funding for neurological research is small relative to the magnitude and societal impact of these disorders," said Dr. Huda Zoghbi, professor in the departments of molecular and human genetics, pediatrics, neurology and neuroscience at BCM and director of the Jan and Dan Duncan NRI.  "The grant will fund the interior build-out of specific floors in the NRI, a multidisciplinary research facility for pediatric neurological diseases such as autism, epilepsy, Batten disease, cerebral palsy, and Rett and Angelman syndromes," said Zoghbi, who is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.    In addition to creating office and laboratory space, the funding will be used to build space for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance equipment that will help researchers identify metabolic fingerprints of different disorders. The NRI is scheduled to open later this year.  

Historical museum awarded grant for research library - The Harrison County Historical Museum will take a giant leap forward in its collections management program through a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  The museum was awarded a $5,540 Conservation Support Project grant to help the Museum's Research Library. The Conservation Project Support awards help museums identify conservation needs and priorities and perform activities to ensure the safekeeping of their collections. The grants are awarded through competitive peer review and require, at least, a 100 percent match by the applicant. Grant applicants are required to have an adopted plan and show how they are using the plan.

Canisius Receives Grant From US Education Department - The United States Department of Education U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program awarded Canisius College, in conjunction with the University of Texas at El Paso, a $249,560 grant. Administered by FIPSE (the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) and the Brazilian Ministry of Education, the consortia program fosters the exchange of students and faculty within the context of bilateral curricular development. The consortia program provides grants for up to four years to at least two academic institutions in the United States and two in Brazil.  Canisius College and the University of Texas at El Paso are the two U.S. partners. The University of Texas at El Paso is the U.S. lead, and Canisius College is the partner.

Perry announces $8.4 million in TETF funding for renewable energy - Texas governor Rick Perry announced an $8.4 million grant to Texas Tech and the National Institute for Renewable Energy from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (TETF) at 2 p.m. Monday.  Texas Tech will be able to take research in renewable energy to the next level in the state of Texas, Perry said, and the hard work that will be put into that research could send a powerful message to the rest of the nation.  Tech has been a leader in wind science and engineering for 40 years, and currently, the only Ph.D. program in wind science and engineering available in the U.S. Texas is the number one wind-energy-producing state in the country and 90 percent of current wind energy production takes place in West Texas.

Pacific Ridge School Receives Major Grants for Science Program - Pacific Ridge School, a non-profit, independent middle and upper school in Carlsbad with a mission to foster academic excellence, ethical responsibility, and global engagement, gratefully accepts a grant award for its science program from the William H. Donner Foundation, as well as a tuition assistance grant from the Lupe Murchison Foundation. The grant includes a $25,000 Tuition Assistance grant from the Texas-based Lupe Murchison Foundation, an organization committed to administering the funding of programs that provide educational benefits to children.

Grant/Grantmaker News - National

18 States and District of Columbia Are Finalists for Education Grants -  Eighteen states and the District of Columbia were named as finalists on Tuesday in the second round of a national competition for $3.4 billion in federal financing to support an overhaul of education policies. The much-anticipated decision by the federal Education Department eliminated almost half of the 35 states that entered the competition, called Race to the Top.   The finalists are Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

New Mexico State University wins $1.5 million - New Mexico State University's Arrowhead Center has been awarded a $1.5 million federal grant for improvements to the business and research park.  Arrowhead Business and Research Park covers 224 acres at the southern end of NMSU's Las Cruces campus between Interstates 10 and 25.  The goal of the research center is to link scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs in developing technologies that contribute to economic development in New Mexico.   The federal grant comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

RMU receives grant to raise awareness of First Amendment - The national First Amendment organization 1 for All announced Thursday that Robert Morris University will receive a $5,000 grant from the McCormick Foundation to raise awareness of First Amendment issues.  The school received the money as a part of 1 for All's Liberty Tree Initiative and will support a variety of educational programs around First Amendment issues. It will also go toward the planting of a "Liberty Tree" on campus.  Robert Morris University was one of six schools to receive the grant.

Simio Awards $79200 Grant to Oklahoma State University - Simio, a developer of 3D object-oriented simulation software, has awarded a $79,200 grant to the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. The Spears School of Business actively incorporates technology into its curriculum and seeks input from leaders in business and government to help create industry-driven degrees. The grant comes in the form of 40 copies of Simio Academic Edition for installation on school computers.  Simio LLC is a private company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is dedicated to delivering leading edge solutions for the design, emulation, and scheduling of complex systems.

$2 Million Grant Addresses a Parent's Role in Children’s Behavior - A $2 million grant awarded to Washington University in St. Louis’ George Warren Brown School of Social Work will be used to evaluate a parent-training program in the vulnerable child welfare population. The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development award will fund research regarding the Pathways Triple P program. Investigators will determine whether Triple P is effective when applied to families in the child welfare system, compared with treatment as usual.

Cal Poly Pomona receives $42-million cash grant - Cal Poly Pomona announced Monday that it has been awarded a $42-million cash gift — the largest such donation in the history of California State University — by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, whose cereal magnate founder established an Arabian horse ranch in the hills that is now part of the campus.  The grant will be given over five years, beginning with an initial $10 million in August, followed by yearly awards of $8 million, officials said. The money will be used to increase the enrollment of first generation college students, recently emancipated foster youth, military veterans and other underrepresented populations in Southern California.

Ohio Wesleyan University Receives $100,000 Mellon Foundation Grant - Ohio Wesleyan University has been awarded a two-year, $100,000 Officer’s Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support faculty efforts to enhance the student curriculum. The funding will support elements of Ohio Wesleyan’s new “OWU Connection” curricular plan, which reflects the university’s commitment to providing students with challenging coursework that connects academic theory to real-world practice and prepares them for citizenship and leadership in an increasingly global society.

Yale Rep nets $1.95M in gifts - Hot on the heels of the July 19 announcement of a $950,000 gift from the Robina Foundation — a private nonprofit based in Minnesota — the Yale Rep announced a second major gift Wednesday, this time for $1 million, from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, according to a University press release issued Wednesday. Both gifts will help to support the Yale Center for New Theatre, an initiative founded in 2008 by the Rep and the School of Drama to cultivate new plays and musicals for the national stage. These donations come as additions to the $2.85 million already gifted by the Robina Foundation to kick off the Center’s launch in 2008.

Lincoln Foundation Giving $720,000 in Education Grants - The Lincoln Financial Foundation, established in 1962, is the charitable giving arm of Lincoln Financial Group. Under Lincoln Foundation guidelines, grants are made in the areas of arts, education, human services and workforce/economic development. Lincoln Financial sets aside up to 2% of its pre-tax earnings for charitable causes that support philanthropic endeavors in the communities where its employees work.  Fort Wayne, Ind., July 26, 2010 – Lincoln Financial Foundation is partnering with the AIDS Task Force to educate northeast Indiana youth on the danger posed by HIV/AIDS and risky behavior. The project is part of more than $720,000 in education grants the Lincoln Foundation recently made to 22 local nonprofits.   A $60,000 grant from the Lincoln Foundation will help underwrite the Youth Empowerment Program, a six- to eight-week multi-session program that educates 13- to 19-year-olds on the risks associated with HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy. The program provides a safe atmosphere in which youth can discuss often difficult topics such as substance abuse, body image, peer pressure and sexually aggressive behaviors.  Other education grants awarded include:
• $100,000 to Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana to support the Elementary Economics and Lincoln Finance Park programs. These programs help students better understand the economic impact of their financial decisions and larger regional and national issues in the context of their personal finances and the local economy.
• $49,000 to Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities to subsidize childcare fees for families with special needs children at the Robert Kimbrough Early Learning Center.
• $48,500 to Early Childhood Alliance for the Book Buddies Family Literacy Program and to provide early care and education for children of homeless families.
• $45,000 to Allen County Education Partnership for Project READS (Reading, Early Assistance in Developing Skills), which helps children in kindergarten through third grade develop and improve their reading and writing skills.
• $45,000 to Science Central to support educational programs offered in the Lincoln Financial Foundation Demonstration Theater and for Lincoln’s Employee Attendance Package.
• $45,000 to YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne for youth programs including the Southeast Family YMCA Childcare Program; Old Fort YMCA’s Summer Day Camp; and Camp Potawotami’s Outdoor Education Program.
• $40,000 to Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne to provide financial assistance to academically advanced high school students enrolled in the Collegiate Connection Program. This assistance allows students from low-income families the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school.
• $40,000 to Ivy Tech Foundation to create Video Adaptive Learning Objects (VALOs) for the Advanced Manufacturing Program in the School of Technology. VALOs use a technology-based approach that enables students to practice critical thinking and decision-making skills on highly technical equipment in a virtual setting.
• $32,000 to Northeast Indiana Public Radio to support broadcasting All Things Considered. The program presents news, interviews, commentaries, reviews and offbeat features, educating listeners on a broad spectrum of information and opinion.
• $30,000 to Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana to provide scholarships that enable girls from low-income families to attend camp and provide programs that meet their physical, developmental, educational, emotional and social needs while actively building leadership skills.
• $25,000 to Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne for Project Learn, an after-school program that includes homework help and tutoring, high-yield learning activities, technology and enhancement programs, incentives and recognition.
• $25,000 to Educational Opportunity and Talent Search Center for computer training, GED preparation and English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) classes at the Center. These educational programs help youth remain in school, attend college, keep job skills current and continue their education.
• $25,000 to Euell Wilson Center for after-school programs that include mentoring, life skills classes, performing arts classes, homework support, reading and math tutoring and general recreation.
• $23,000 to Lifeline Youth and Family Services for the Building Blocks Preschool which serves the low-income community of Brookmill Court Apartments.
• $16,000 to United Hispanic-Americans for the Chartering New Paths for Our Youth Program. This program encompasses five Hispanic youth programs and includes cultural enrichment activities that teach leadership skills, how to engage the community in a positive way and academic excellence.
• $15,000 to Fort Wayne Public Television for the PBS Kids Go! Writers’ Contest that encourages children in kindergarten through third grade to celebrate the power of creating stories and illustrations by submitting their own original pieces.
• $15,000 to Leadership Fort Wayne to fund youth leadership programs, including Youth Leadership Fort Wayne, Youth as Resources and the Leadership Exploration and Development Program, and for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana for website completion and the YLNI Vote Initiative.
• $15,000 to Mental Health America for the “Kids on the Block” puppet programs. The programs teach children about a variety of disabilities and issues including cerebral palsy, hearing impairments, diabetes, developmental disabilities and spina bifida, and teach acceptance of, and appreciation for, children who are different.
• $10,000 to Power House Youth Center to support Power Plant, an after-school program for youth in grades 6-12 that includes homework assistance, tutoring, seminars and opportunities to enhance creative and social skills and participation in community service projects.
• $10,000 to Southeast Youth Council for the Cornerstone Youth Center’s Education Center, which offers a computer lab, tutoring and homework assistance.
• $7,000 to East Allen Family Resource Center to provide preschool services for children ages three and four, and after-school and summer programs for children from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Scott Kabrich

Researcher - University Advancement


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