Texas Standard: May 18, 2021

The Supreme Court to hear a challenge to Roe vs Wade in a case from Mississippi. How that decision may affect efforts to change abortion laws in Texas. Also, Governor Greg Abbott calls for an early end to federal unemployment relief extended during the pandemic fight. And if it claims to be “beyond meat” on the package, is it breaking Texas law? It might be under a proposal under consideration by Texas lawmakers. Also the difficulty removing so-called bad apples from Texas policing. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 11, 2021

Greg Abbott has a challenger in 2022 Gubernatorial race. And no, his name’s not O’Rourke or McConaughey. A former state senator and prominent north Texas businessman running for Governor to the right of Greg Abbott. We’ll talk about Don Huffines’ bid for the top spot in Texas government. Also the latest in our project tracking vaccinations across the Lone Star State, the texan reaching out to the reluctant. And last falls Texas school re-openings blamed for more than 40,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 800 deaths. What are the lessons from the data, and what about this fall? Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 29, 2020

As much of the Lone Star State reopens, many prisoners in Texas eligible for parole are remaining behind bars. Why the hold up? We’ll explore. The governor says officials are monitoring the state for possible flareups and outbreaks but that effort’s overlooking many parts of Texas, notably communities of color. We’ll have details. Also, Texas hospitals that received bailout cash are suing a growing number of poor or unemployed patients. And rethinking the mythology surrounding the Texas ranger, the week in politics and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 28, 2020

The Texas Supreme Court rules fear of contracting Coronavirus is not a disability under election law. We’ll have more on the decision in the vote-by mail controversy and why it may not prove to be the final word on the subject. Also as institutions of higher ed struggle over how to move forward, we talk to the presidents of two historically black colleges about how best to help the communities they serve, especially hard hit by COVID-19. Plus Dr. Fred Campbell takes more listener questions about the Coronavirus and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 26, 2020

Political conventions are planned out years in advance, so why are people suddenly talking about the GOP convention coming to Texas this summer? We’ll explain. Plus, questions raised over a 295 million dollar contract for contact tracing to fight the spread of Coronavirus in Texas, also efforts for contact tracing at the border. And its t-minus one day and counting: Space City watching closely as Elon Musk’s Space X prepares for an historic crewed launch. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 25, 2020

With the unofficial start of summer in Texas, a re-evaluation of what we’ve endured and what’s ahead. We’ll take a look at the state of the fight against COVID-19. Texas based vaccine expert Dr.Peter Hotez gets us up to speed on the impact of the relaxation of stay at home guidelines in Texas. Also, why many daycares, now authorized to reopen, may not make it despite economic recovery efforts. And an update on the Coronavirus story unfolding just south of the border, and a rediscovered history of women and the high court. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 20, 2020

In a state with one of the lowest health insurance rates in the nation, a dangerous dip in coverage for many more Texans, we’ll have the latest. Other stories we’re covering, the Texan in line to become the nation’s next top intelligence official. We’ll hear what’s at stake as the Senate takes up the nomination of Republican John Radcliffe of Heath to be the next director of national intelligence. Also, despite a ban on such events, a small group in Texas gets one of the nation’s first live in person graduations of 2020. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Higher Ed: Want An Exciting Life? Ask This Question At Graduation (Or Anytime, Really)

Most of us have the best of intentions when we graduate from high school or college to make our way in the world and lead meaningful and productive lives. But the minutiae of everyday life can eat into our plans to exist outside our comfort zone. In this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed,” Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explore one way to keep those dreams alive.

Ed has a tradition at Southwestern University called the President’s Dinner. At some point during their time at Southwestern, each student will get invited to dinner at the President’s house with about 12 other people. Part of the dinner conversation will revolve around answering a provocative question.

At a recent dinner, Ed posed the following question: “What would surprise you about yourself 25 years after graduation?”

After hearing the discussion the followed, Ed wanted to bring that question to “Higher Ed” podcast listeners, too.

“What’s something that you could imagine and dream about doing but you really don’t think you would do in practice?’

Ed maintains that asking that question at any stage of life will prompt us to then figure out what concrete steps can we take to get there. And that pursuit, he believes, is the “joy of life.”

“When people go to our funeral, let’s say ‘we left it all on the field; we lived this full life,'” says Ed. “So even the surprising things we’ve tried.”

Ed says conversely, it might be just as valuable to consider the places where we do not want to be 25 years after graduation.

“How can we go to the dark side,” cautions Ed, ” and then what can we do with intentionality to make sure we avoid that?”

Ed says we may be our own worst enemy when it comes to this type of exploration. He encourages people to put their education into practice to overcome that obstacle.

“We are all biased about our individual selves. ‘ I am supposed to do this. I am good at that and I am not good at art’ or whatever it is,” says Ed. “To overcome that internal bias about you, and to say ‘well, maybe I can be an artist’ is an open-minded attitude which all education that’s focusing on personal, intellectual growth should be offering.”

Listen to the entire episode to hear more about how to surprise ourselves 25 years after graduation (or at any point in life). It is also time to see what kind of puzzler we are dealt in this episode.

This episode was recorded on Oct. 22, 2019.

For all the Higher Ed episodes, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here

Higher Ed: The Community-Building Power Of Ritual In Education

The pomp and circumstance of graduation brings students, teachers, staff and family together to celebrate achievement and usher students onto their next steps in learning and life. That ritual not only honors students but also creates a shared opportunity for a campus community to strengthen bonds. In this episode of the KUT podcast “Higher Ed,” KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger discuss the importance of ritual in education.

Graduation is probably the first ceremony that comes to mind when thinking about the rituals associated with education. Commencement certainly exists to celebrate achievements and bestow accolades. But Ed believes that ceremony also speaks to a deeper human truth.

“As human beings, we believe in community,” says Ed. “So the idea of having the community come together, which includes your family and your friends and your teachers and your colleagues who are students…. it’s a shared moment.”

Certainly the basic business of graduation could be done with no pomp and circumstance simply by mailing out diplomas at the end of the school year. Ed believes though that the entire community – not just the graduates – benefits from sharing in students’ triumphs.

“In today’s world, where everything moves so fast and everyone’s on their electronic devices,” says Ed, “to take a moment to come together as a community – whatever that definition means for that context of community, live in the same space – and celebrate that triumphant moment…it just uplifts the spirit. And so we want those moments of uplifting memories to hold onto.”

Most, if not all, of the rituals in education involve celebrating positive achievements. Left to his own devices to invent a new ritual in education, Ed would turn the focus to elevating something that is normally not celebrated – what he calls “effective failure” from which we learn lessons.

“I think the idea of having a big pomp and circumstance and genuine celebration when things don’t go right,” Ed believes, “as long as we have come to a place where we had an epiphany and we’re going to move forward in a way that will make us better – I think we should be celebrating that.”

Listen to the full episode for more on the role of ritual in education and what title Ed would give to his new ceremony. It is also time for the solution to last episode’s anagram puzzler. Listen closely, though, as it may not be as complicated as it first sounded.

This episode was recorded on April 2, 2019.

Texas Standard: January 3, 2019

The calendars have switched over to 2019 and that means some new Texas laws are or will soon go into effect. We’ll tell you what you need to know. Also, Mexico’s new president is making the entire border with the U.S. into a special zone to encourage would-be migrants to stay put. We’ll ask one expert whether the plan will work. Plus, jobs these days often involve sitting at a desk and getting food is as easy as pushing a button… How our hunter-gatherer bodies aren’t adapting. And have you ever seen an albino cockroach? It may not be what you think. All that and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: September 19, 2018

A political upset in Texas: a Democrat friendly district picks a Republican to fill a vacated seat less than two months out from the midterms. On top of last night’s Republican win by Pete Flores over Pete Gallego for a vacated state Senate seat, new numbers suggest that tight contest between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke might not be so tight after all. We’ll take a closer look. Also, as frustration grows over rising student debt in higher ed: Texas’ top ranked private university announces free tuition room and board, for those who qualify. And the sixth Rolling Stone, Texas’ own in the spotlight. All that and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: May 11, 2018

Bitter rivals have started launching rockets at each other, raising concerns among experts about the world’s next big war, we’ll explore. Also, as investigations continue into possible presidential collusion with Kremlin insiders, we’ll hear how the Russians tried to turn Houston’s Beyonce into a weapon of mass distraction. Plus the self taught scientist who gather more data from inside a tornado than anyone else before or since, but in the chase for data lost his life. Also, what could keep a new oil boom from taking hold in west Texas? Would you believe a sand lizard? Those stories and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Higher Ed: Pomp And Commencement Speeches

Some are boring and not very memorable. Some are inspiring and stay with the graduates for years to comes. I am referring to commencement addresses. And during this 2018 commencement season, Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and I spend this episode of KUT’s podcast “Higher Ed” discussing the good, the bad and the memorable from commencement addresses. Southwestern University’s 2018 commencement speaker is Dr. Sybil Jordan Hampton. She grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas and was a member of the second class of African American students entering Little Rock Central High School in 1959. Ed is excited for the graduating seniors to hear Dr. Hampton’s inspiring story. Many commencement addresses are inspiring, and in this episode Ed and I recall some words of wisdom that have really made impact and some that were less-than-memorable. Ed also reflects on what he considers one of the most amazing graduation speeches he has ever heard. What made it so good? Listen to the full episode to find out and to get the solution to the most recent puzzler about math lovers who know how to to party.

This episode was recorded on April 20, 2018.

Back To The Nest

College commencements are taking place across Texas over the next few weeks. That was the inspiration for this week’s Typewriter Rodeo poem.

Higher Ed: “Goodbyes” in Education

“Goodbye.” It’s a word that actually gets said a lot in education. Students are constantly changing teachers, classmates, subjects, and locations during their years in school. In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger talk about saying goodbye and moving on in education. The end of a class, semester, school year, or entire degree program can be a very emotional time as students and teachers move on, knowing that exact same class with those exact same participants will never exist again. In this episode, Ed and Jennifer discuss the many “goodbyes” that happen along the path of formal education, and what Ed says is the greatest gift an educator can receive when a class ends. And listen on for a twist on the usual puzzler. To balance the sometimes sad topic of goodbyes, Ed and Jennifer share Math jokes courtesy of some funny 4th graders.

This episode was recorded on April 19, 2017.

Higher Ed: Advice from Graduating Seniors to Their Younger Selves

It is college commencement season, and graduating seniors will be hearing all kinds of sage advice from commencement speakers. But what advice would those graduating seniors give? What would they tell their younger selves as students if they could? In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, KUT’s Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger share what some seniors say they wish they had known when they started school. Ed had the chance to ask some Southwestern University seniors, not long before their graduation, what had impacted them the most during their time in school. He and Jennifer discuss their surprising, frank, and funny answers and how that advice can apply outside of school, too. Listen on for their discussion and to hear the solution to last episode’s puzzler about the mean Math teacher and the bowls of marbles.

This episode was recorded on April 19, 2017.

Higher Ed: Choosing a “Final Class”

If you only had one class left to take in school, what would it be? Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton explore what that last class could – or should? – be, and making the transition from formal education to lifelong learning. Ed and Jennifer reflect on the last classes they took in their formal educations (Jennifer’s may surprise you; Ed’s probably won’t!) and introduce the latest puzzler. Hint: a little math along the way in school may help with this one.

This episode was recorded May 16, 2016.


It’s the time of year when graduates take the long walk to pick up their diploma.

Higher Ed: Commencement Reflections

Caps and gowns … diplomas… speeches… parties… and anxieties about what’s next. It’s commencement season, and thousands of higher education graduates across the country are packing up their dorm rooms and embarking on the next stage of life. In this episode of KUT’s podcast Higher Ed, Jennifer Stayton and Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger reflect on what commencement means and discuss what most students actually take away from their college experiences. It may not be exactly what you’d expect. And neither is the solution to the math puzzler about journalists – listen on!

Higher Ed: Graduation Advice to Our Younger Selves

“If I only knew then what I know now….” Sure, hindsight is 20/20. But if you could talk to your younger self, what advice would you give? What decisions would you make differently? During this graduation season,  Southwestern University President Dr. Ed Burger and KUT’s Jennifer Stayton give their younger selves some words of wisdom about life and learning. Think of it as “Higher Ed’s” 2016 commencement address. They may be talking to “Lower Ed” and “Jennifer, Jr.” but much of that advice still holds true today. No puzzler this week – just puzzle over the advice in this episode.

This episode was recorded on March 28, 2016.