Most – but not all – UO faculty with Texas degrees looking for Ducks to win

Julianne Newton

With the Ducks wrapping up their 2013 football season in the Alamo Bowl against the University of Texas Longhorns on Dec. 30, there is potential for internal conflict for faculty who possess ties to both universities.

Although School of Journalism and Communication Interim Dean Julianne Newton and Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising Deb Morrison earned their master's degrees and doctorates from the University of Texas at Austin and were both professors there, they’ll be cheering on the Ducks.

As part of the UO delegation to the Alamo Bowl, Newton will proudly sport Duck apparel. She considers herself a Duck through and through.

‘The year I joined the UO faculty the Ducks beat the Longhorns,” Newton said. “I loved it!” (The Ducks defeated Texas, 35-30, in the 2000 Holiday Bowl.)

Her loyalties do, however, put her in conflict with family and friends. She said that two of her children are Longhorns and will be rooting for their alma mater. Many of her friends will also be cheering for Texas, but she trusts her Ducks to win the day.

Morrison feels the same. Although she fondly remembers her days at UT, she explains it’s all about Oregon now.

“Football is BIG in Texas and Mack Brown – even now – is revered," Morrison said. "So many of our Texas friends will be there to yell for the Horns. They know who I’ll be yelling for.”

SOJC assistant professor Laurie Phillips earned her master's degree in advertising from the University of Texas in 2005. She said that although she has ties to both universities, she doesn’t feel any loyalty issues when it comes to athletics. She will be watching the game in green and yellow along with her colleagues.

Marc Schlossberg, co-director of the UO's Sustainable Cities Initiative, now follows the Ducks, but while en route to earning a bachelor's degree in marketing from UT-Austin he wore cowboy boots to Longhorn games. His family moved to Plano, Texas, while he was a high school junior; he quickly learned about the state's obsession for football when Plano won the state high school championship his senior year.

"Mostly, though, my focus at UT was as a DJ for the college radio station, playing loud and annoying music, going to live shows, and enjoying the great music scene in Austin," said Schlossberg, who also is an associate professor in the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management. "My marketing degree has always stood with me, although my time at UT pushed me strongly away from using marketing skills in a business context, and instead I realized such skills could be better utilized working for positive social change."

Kirby Brown wants a well-contested game filled with good sportsmanship, but he'll be rooting for UT-Austin. He earned a bachelor's degree and a doctorate at UT-Austin; in between, he picked up a master's degree at UT-San Antonio.

"To be perfectly honest, I can't say that I have any divided loyalties with respect to the upcoming game between the Ducks and Longhorns," said Brown, assistant professor of Native American Literatures in the Department of English. "Texas football culture, as you may know, borders on the religious – if not fanatic, which is, significantly, the root word of 'fan' – and thus one's relationship to his or her alma mater can approach the sacred. As a Texan and UT alum that's bled orange for as long as I can remember, I'm a University of Texas Longhorn – no ifs, ands or buts about it.

"That said, I'm very excited that Longhorn Nation has an opportunity to bring in the new year in a late-December matchup with an exciting, marquee program like the University of Oregon," Brown continued. "As an employee of the UO with numerous folks back home who are huge Ducks fans, I root for the Ducks every chance I get. I've even adapted a Longhorn mantra for my new UO home: 'Quack 'Em Ducks!' and bring UO paraphernalia home to family and friends whenever I can. All of which is to say that I am excited and happy to be an adopted Duck."

In the UO Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Darren Johnson has been asked at least 30 times, he says, about his loyalties. Johnson, an associate professor and member of the Materials Science Institute, earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry at UT-Austin in 1996. He's a big football fan.

"I'm torn – the Ducks and Horns are my two favorite teams," he said. "This year is especially tough as this will be Mack Brown's last game as coach, too. At Texas I was part of a student organization that helped set up the student section in the stadium, so I went to every home game and sat about 10 rows up on the 30 yard line.  I was really spoiled. So I'll be happy for whoever wins, and disappointed for the loser. As far as my loyalties, I know who my employer is now. That said, I wouldn't have made it here if it weren't for my time at Texas."

English Professor Steven Shankman – who also holds the UNESCO Chair in Transcultural Studies, Interreligious Dialogue and Peace – earned a bachelor's degree from UT-Austin in 1969, but he has no doubt about his favorite in the game.

"I don't have mixed loyalties on this one. I'm for the Ducks at the Alamo Bowl," said Shankman, adding that he's a native New Yorker, not a Texan at heart. "I have to admit to having had very mixed feelings about football when I was an undergraduate at UT-Austin way back when in the mythic Darrell Royal era. I've always been an athlete, but I wasn't part of the football culture at Texas. … The football culture at Texas seemed at odds with, and completely overwhelmed, the bookishness I loved and cultivated in my undergraduate years studying literature and language – ancient Greek and French, mainly – at Texas. I'm not an avid Ducks football fan by any means, but the Ducks football team won me over with the speed and deftness of its offense."

Several other faculty members with UT-Austin connections were contacted for this story and may need more time to determine which team to root for.

- by Katherine Cook, UO Office of Strategic Communications intern. Melissa Foley and Jim Barlow, a former Texas journalist but reprogrammed Ducks fan, also contributed.