The University of Texas and A Town Called Cedar Springs

IT APPEARS NOW that the Legislature will back off its earlier threats to deal punishing budgetary blows to the University of Texas system and adopt Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby’s plan to raise tuition instead. At least that’s the hope of people interested in maintaining the national stature and top-flight faculty that UT has been cultivating for the past few years.

Things didn’t look so good at the start of the session, when the Legislative Budget Board came in with an appallingly low figure for higher education. Gov. Mark White raised it somewhat, and so did Hobby, but only a few weeks ago, the thinking in Austin was still to fund the state’s university system at a level below the current appropriation. UT Board of Regents Chairman Jess Hay swung into action, along with UT-Austin President Dr. Peter Flawn, who argued that if Texas loses distinguished faculty members because of a meat-cleaver approach to budgeting, it will be impossible to get them back in a couple of years. By then they will have moved on, taking with them, no doubt, a deep skepticism about Texas’ commitment to education.

And they would have reason to wonder. Throughout this session, there have been repeated efforts to undo the public school reforms proposed by Ross Perot’s task force and enacted by the Legislature last summer. At one point, the program for four-year-olds seemed to be in jeopardy, and there’s been constant haranguing about how many weeks a student who’s failing a class must stay out of extracurricular activities. The current law says six weeks; some lawmakers prefer one. The Perot Task Force approach may offer some answers to our higher-education funding problems, which certainly won’t go away. Apparently the governor plans to appoint a group to study the various state university campuses and determine which ones are working well and which ones aren’t accomplishing enough to merit continued support. There was a bill this session proposing to close the University of Texas of the Permian Basin at Odessa and Texas A&M at Galves-ton. These ideas deserve serious consideration apart from the heat of a session. The important thing is that we not throw the next generation to the wolves every time there’s a political or financial crisis and that we spend our education dollars where they will be the most effective.

This is not to say that everything is rotten in the state of Texas. Not at all. Felicity turns up in the most amazing places. When I stopped by Booked Up after lunch a few days ago, Bill Gilliland, who runs the shop, showed me an exquisite little volume by A.C. Greene. Recently published, A Aown Called Cedar Springs is an elegant history of the Oak Lawn area. I asked Bill if I could buy a copy. He said no, he only had one, and if I wanted one, I’d have to get it at the office of The Springs, a new apartment development on Cedar Springs at Kings Road. I raced over there and found a box of these beautiful little books in the sales office. Harvey McLean’s company is giving them away as a promotion piece for the new apartments, which, if not a total architectural success, at least represent a sincere effort to work with the old Reichenstein house that stands restored at the center of the development. (I do wish that they were not “all adult” apartments, which is a disturbing trend in Dallas.)

I keep coming back to the integrity of the Cedar Maple Plaza, whose three buildings complement the Crescent on Cedar Springs at Maple. I was last there at a sad time. My grandfather had died at The Traymore in Dallas after more than 90 years of life in a town near Corsicana called Kerens. His funeral was on a Friday, which also happened to be my grandmother’s 93rd birthday. She insisted on traveling from The Traymore, where the two of them had lived for the past several months, to Kerens for the service.

Afterward, there was no going to their house, now closed and lonely, for the customary ham and fried chicken that friends usually bring on such occasions. I returned with the others to Dallas, got my car at the office and drove to Chow, of all places. I ate a sandwich at a table outside and, humming How Great Thou Art, which had been sung at the service, watched as workmen wound down their day at the new midrise buildings across the street.

My grandparents came from a line of very hard-working people. They would understand the sturdiness of the Stoneleigh Terrace Hotel just down the street on Maple, but they would have been astonished by much else that’s going on in Dallas at the moment. A recent visitor to this city left saying that it’s becoming like Oman-an arid setting with a paper-cutout skyline of buildings that too _often shatter the scale of the place. Appropriate proportions and landscaping j(hooray for downtown’s Lincoln Plaza on (this score) could change all that.

My grandparents would recognize the woman who stopped as I was eating that day and asked me directions to a restaurant on McKinney. She was walking there to collect some money owed her by another woman, a former employer who runs one of the eateries on that avenue. This was a determined person taking off toward McKinney on foot, not unlike the generation that weathered the Depression and reared children in spite of it. And they would like, as I do, the kind, attractive young people who work at Chow- and Dakota’s, and countless other restaurants across Dallas. As I watched them dashing to their cars, off to Fort Worth to cater a party, I thought: How urban they are, how utterly of the city, and how little they know of the world I had just left behind very nearly forever.

I’m pleased to announce that Ginny Pitre has joined D as creative director. She comes to us from The Dallas Morning News, where she was responsible for the art direction of the Sunday magazine, Dallas Life. We believe that under Ginny’s leadership, the look of D will evolve in a direction that’s more sophisticated, more elegant and more representative of this city.

Laura Jacobus, who was previously withPetroleum Engineer, is also joining our staffnext month as assistant managing editor. Shebrings strong organizational skills to themagazine and will contribute substantially toits accuracy and quality.


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