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2021 Archive

Designed to create a campus-wide conversation, the Helen and Jeff Herbert Family University Lecture Series gives first-year students an opportunity to interact with leading members of our faculty—scholars, scientists, and civic leaders who are nationally and internationally renowned. All students, faculty, alumni, staff and community guests are invited, but the events will be aimed at entering first-year students. The Helen and Jeff Herbert Family University Lecture Series is generously brought to UT Austin by the Helen and Jeff Herbert family.

Spring 2021 Virtual Events

How Self-Compassion Can Help Us to Thrive in the Midst of Challenge
Kristin Neff, Ph.D., Department of Educational Psychology
March 2, 8-9 p.m.

Self-compassion is a form of inner strength training that can help us cope with trying times. Research shows that this supportive mindset reduces depression, anxiety, and stress, increases happiness and life satisfaction, and enhances physical health. It’s also a more effective motivator than self-criticism, spurring us to achieve not because we’re unacceptable as we are, but because we care about ourselves and want to reach our full potential.

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Change the Way the Eyes See: The Eyes of Texas as a Metaphor for History, Memory, and Meaning
Richard J. Reddick, Ed.D., College of Education
March 23, 8-9 p.m.

The Eyes of Texas, the university’s 117-year-old alma mater, is nestled at the center of a moment of reflection over our institution’s history, including who has been welcomed and included, and who has not. The work of The Eyes of Texas History Committee can serve as a catalyst to thoughtfully interrogate UT’s, as well as the city, state, and nation’s, formative years, reflect on our present and chart a future that propels all forward, together. In this lecture, Dr. Reddick will share lessons and questions from the committee’s work and aim to kindle the spirit of conversation, community, and commitment to change befitting a community that espouses “what starts here changes the world.”

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Fall 2021 Virtual Lectures

When Texas Froze Over
Dr. Kasey Faust, Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering; Professor Troy Kimmel, Department of Geography and the Environment; and Dr. Varun Rai, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the UT Energy Institute

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Professor Troy Kimmel discusses the forecasts leading up to this historic winter storm and how accurate those forecasts actually were. In addition, are forecasts (and watches, warnings, and advisories, for that matter) all there is to communicating weather hazards to the general public? You may be surprised by the answer to that question!

Dr. Faust considers the cascading impacts of Winter Storm Uri on the water infrastructure system in Austin. This includes understanding the response and recovery across the city, as well as the impacts on our most vulnerable residents (e.g., mothers with children, elderly populations). Importantly, she discusses how we can rethink water infrastructure in Texas to be better prepared for weather extremes in the future.

Drawing from a recent UT report that professor Rai helped coordinate on the February 2021 blackouts in Texas, he offers a holistic, data-driven overview of how the interaction of natural, technological, human, and market factors led to the crisis and the key lessons that have emerged since. He also draws from both personal experiences during the storm and from unique survey data collected across Texas immediately after the storm to discuss how underlying contexts and experiences drive public perceptions regarding causes and solutions for the blackouts.

COVID-19: A Retrospective from Campus Leaders
Dean Clay Johnston, Dell Medical School; Dean Alexa Stuifbergen, School of Nursing; and Dean Luis Zayas, Steve Hicks School of Social Work

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Dean Johnston gives insight into the timelines of the pandemic and what Dell Medical School was doing on the ground and explores what lasting impacts might be expected from the pandemic, particularly in healthcare and research.

Dean Stuifbergen discusses the impact of the pandemic on the School of Nursing undergraduate and graduate students and how faculty creatively managed the challenges of the pandemic – especially related to “in-person” clinical learning. On Dec. 15, 2020, School of Nursing faculty and students administered the first COVID vaccines in central Texas. During the subsequent months, a strong interprofessional partnership between the School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, Dell Medical School, and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work faculty and students has delivered almost 150,000 vaccines in the historic effort to stop the pandemic. We know that the pandemic has had a greater impact on persons with fewer resources and Dean Stuifbergen describes current efforts to make vaccines available for those with limited access and greater barriers to health care.

The pandemic has had a global impact on economies, political systems, and societies, and families. At the personal level, COVID has created stress, anxiety, isolation, depression, and many other psychosocial issues in the lives of high school and college students (and their professors, too). In some instances, it has meant losses of family members, friends, and neighbors. What have been the effects on our mental wellbeing? What can we do at UT and at home to repair from this historic year? Dean Zayas talks about mental well-being in the age of COVID and how social workers are helping.