University of Texas students can expect a "near normal" fall semester this year.
The plan, sent to the Daily Texan via email from communications manager for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost Kathleen Harrison, is to hold 91.7% of classes in person, 4.2% of classes in a hybrid format and the remaining 3.1% of classes will stay online.
The announcement is a stark increase from last fall, during which over 60% of classes were online, 24% were hybrid and only 16% were in-person. President Jay Hartzell said last month he expects the upcoming semester to look more similar to fall 2019 than fall 2020.
The new schedule is not set in stone—Harrison said UT will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on campus and that safety of the community is a top priority.
"The University's decisions are based on the latest data and information available," Harrison said. "If conditions change, we will continue to keep the safety of our community a top priority and adjust as needed."
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The spirit of Austin legend and acclaimed singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston is alive and well as the late artist's family and the Daniel Johnston Estate auction a brand-new, never-before-seen and unconventional piece.
Titled "Daniel Johnston is Alive Somewhere," the piece was released on the auction site foundation app on Friday at 2 p.m. It will be available for 24 hours on auction as a nonfungible token, also known as an NFT.
NFTs are tokens that represent unique digital items, like artwork, video, audio and other forms of creative work. At 4 p.m., the piece was bidding at just over $3,000.
Though on a different medium than Johnston's traditional works, the whimsical piece features six of Johnston's signature "friendly frogs"—the very same that adorn Guadalupe Street and 21st Street—over a keyboard excerpt from Johnston's song "Fly Eye," from his 1985 release "Continued Story." The happy multi-colored frogs blink individually while responding "Fine thank you," to the evocative question, "Hi, How are You?" which shares the name of the artist's 1983 album.
This is the first of several pieces of art that the estate plans to auction.
Johnston passed away in Waller, Texas, where he lived next door to his parents, in 2019. The art piece, an authentic drawing by the celebrated artist, was discovered shortly after his death and became the foundation of the final product. Fittingly, Johnston was famous for merging visual art with his music.
Dick Johnston, the artist's brother, said it was important to Johnston that people were able to enjoy his creations and he was always open to embracing new technology, despite his internet-free lifestyle.
The Johnston Estate also launched a new website, which will sell drawings and post galleries. Known for his childlike qualities, many of the pieces in his array of works are drawn with colored markers and pens.
Honoring a spirit so widely celebrated in Austin, The Contemporary Austin Jones Center will host "Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams," an exhibit that intertwines his visual art and music. The exhibit will run from Sept. 11—the two-year anniversary of his death—through May 20, 2022.
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You've heard it from all over the web, from celebrities and the news—Austin is booming. From 2010-2019, Austin saw the largest percent growth out of all metro areas in the U.S., sharing the list with cities much bigger than The City of the Violet Crown.
Austin's growth has shown no sign of slowing, either. With major companies like Tesla and Google and influencers like devil's advocate podcaster Joe Rogan and Elon Musk, Austin is on the forefront of cities leading the boom.
There are mixed feelings about Austin's explosive growth across the city—between those who find the growth exciting and the famous "don't California my Texas" argument— but those who leave the city are not typically part of the conversation.
Chris Ramser, director of research and economic development for the Austin Chamber, said the flow into the city fluctuates on the long term but even when the U.S. faces its hardest times—COVID-19 and the Great Recession for example—Austin still continues to grow. Ramser is waiting for 2020 data, which will be available in May, to look at the full extent of the migration.
"During the first recession, there was a lot of migration around that time and a lot of people are starting to speculate that the same thing is happening right now with some of the stuff that's been going on with the coronavirus," Ramser said. "What those numbers will ultimately look like, we won't know for a little bit."
Sophia Alaniz, a lifelong Austinite, said she left the only home she had ever known in search of something a little less monotonous, a little more chaotic. The first place that came to mind: the Big Apple.
"I definitely got the chaos—I was just looking for more diversity in my life," Alaniz said. "I like the idea that every day that I leave my apartment, it's something completely, completely, completely different."
Alaniz followed a trend that many have, whether on purpose or inadvertently, in their exodus: a move to a more progressive state. Ramser said the cities people leave Austin for also tend to be emerging tech hubs.
"There is flow. I think those markets are ones that some of our tech workers could be going to (find) opportunities there as they go through their career phases," Ramser said. "They may be looking towards living in a progressive city since they've lived in Austin and they've kind of experienced the Texas side of progressivism."
Austin grows by around 168 people per day, with roughly 128 from net migration and 40 from natural increase. From 2014 to 2018, Austin lost an average of 51 people per day and only 14 states saw possible deficit flows. Of the areas that steal away more Austinites than come here, most only saw small differences. The biggest negative migration rates come from Colorado, Oregon and Connecticut.
Denver, Colorado, has a migration deficit of 589 people, and Portland, Oregon, has a deficit of 407. There are even a few Texas cities that ex-Austinites tend to favor: Killeen and College Station.
Cody Shelton, who lived in Austin until he went to study aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University, liked the small town charm Austin had. After returning to Austin during the summers in-between semesters, Shelton stopped feeling like he fit in after the city's immense growth.
"It's a little concerning, because Austin had this feel that it was a big city because of the Capitol but it felt so small and sort of tight knit," Shelton said. "It was weird going back each time for summer winter break. I felt like I didn't fit anymore because the feeling had changed; it was sort of like a little brother that grew up."
That doesn't mean Shelton thinks the growth is a bad thing—he said the expansion of space companies in Austin reminds him of bigger cities and now, he might even want to move back. Even with its growth, he's not worried about Austin losing its "weird" anytime soon.
"In terms of the overall growth of companies, I actually enjoy that because those are the type of companies, if I was to live in Austin, I would want to be around," Shelton said. "The weird is something you adopt. It doesn't matter where you came from, it's something you get to adopt once you get here."
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Spring has sprung, and it's time to get out and enjoy Texas' most famous flower: the bluebonnet. Getting your photos with Central Texas' beloved bluebonnets, also known as Buffalo Clovers and Wolf Flowers, is one of those golden activities that even COVID-19 can't touch.
These blooming beauties are so loved by Texans we made them the state flower, but they only last from mid-March to mid-April. The countdown is ticking, so get out and see them while you still can. Here are some of the most picture-perfect places to pose in and around Austin.
Best Scenery: Capitol of Texas Highway
It may be one of the most popular spots for photos in Texas, but the bluebonnets will give you the excuse to post all the 360 bridge photos your heart desires. Nestled in the heart of the rolling Hill Country, this area is the perfect blend of city and countryside to give you that "outdoorsy" look, and the location's height and range will also give you stunning depth of field while you shoot. Don't forget to take in the views while you're there, even if you've seen them 100 times before.
Best backdrop: Lady Bird Lake
Getting your photos in front of the skyline and surrounded by the state flower is about as Austin as it gets, and a true Austinite will take every chance they can get to spend the day at Lady Bird Lake. With a long trail to walk along, there are angles galore to explore. This spot juxtaposes flourishing nature with the big, bustling city at once-showcasing Austin's versatility. When you're done snapping, you can hop in the lake to escape that blistering heat.
Most secluded: Old Settlers Park
You'll have to get out of town for this photo spot, but it will be worth it. With patches of bluebonnets across the sprawling greenery, making the drive out to Old Settlers Park is a great way to make an event of the annual growth. Grab your loved ones and furry friends for a picnic and spend the day in the sun. Your final photos will reflect the fun and you'll thank yourself for it!
Most variety: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the bluebonnets are in full bloom and share the spotlight with myriad other wildflowers and native trees of Texas. Get your yearly bluebonnet photos captured while enjoying all the beautiful flowers that the workers at the center maintain year-round. This spot will give you more variety in your photos and you might learn something as well while you're there.
Most Texan: Texas Capitol
Want everyone to know you're from Texas? Head to the Texas Capitol building's massive lawn and send the message that you love the Lone Star State to everyone on your friend list. The historic dome, luscious surrounding trees, statues and architecture will add an interesting element to your snaps instead of just posing in a field. As a bonus, head over in the early morning while the dew still glistens on the grass or during golden hour for the best effects.
What are you waiting for? The bluebonnets only stick around for a little while!