The motto at the University of Texas is: "What Starts Here Changes the World." The university's governing body, The University of Texas System Board of Regents, has backed that motto with a $16.5 million investment that supports the mental health of the very thing that starts at UT's 13 academic and health institutions — its students.

In a recent release, the UT Regents announced that the data-driven, multi-million investment over the next five years will build upon the institution's "long-standing commitment to student safety at all UT academic and health institutions."

In 2011, the university became the first system of higher education to approve an investment toward comprehensive alcohol prevention, education, and recovery programs at each of its academic campuses, and this latest investment will both further support and broaden the scope of those programs. The release detailed a special meeting held on June 28 to approve the $16.5 million investment for expanding and enhancing student mental health, student safety, and alcohol education resources at 13 institutions.

“Student safety is always top of mind for the UT System Board of Regents,” said chair Kevin P. Eltife in the release. “Our unanimous support of new funding speaks to the Board’s commitment to ensure the very best learning environments for all students across all UT institutions.”

Chancellor James Milliken said UT System leadership recommended additional investment in student mental health resources based on national studies and internal data that show a significant rise in the diagnosis and treatment of student mental health issues — including stress, anxiety and depression — over the past 10 years or more. Unsurprisingly, the release notes how the coronavirus pandemic and its associated challenges accelerated this trend, as the percentage of students at UT institutions who were diagnosed by and/or received mental health services from a professional increased from 20 percent in 2011 to 30 percent in 2021. During the same period, student counseling centers reported a 38 percent increase in psychiatric hospitalizations.

The total allocation of $16,500,000 will fund five initiatives, as well as the evaluation of their impact, for five years across the UT System:

  • Mental health crisis line
  • Expanding clinical mental health services to students via telehealth
  • Web-based alcohol education and sexual assault and harassment prevention for students; harassment, safety, and other training for faculty and staff
  • Faculty and staff training
  • Thrive at UT mobile app

“Student safety and wellness remain a most critical priority for UT institutions, and the Board of Regents’ newest investment will support, educate and treat students at all UT academic and health institutions throughout their journey toward a degree,” Milliken said. “Our campuses are grateful for the timing of these new resources that will allow them to expand and enhance the student services determined to be most effective over the past 11 years and during the pandemic.”

Just one Texas school hooks ranking among best global universities by U.S. News & World Report

honor roll

In the eyes of U.S. News & World Report, the University of Texas at Austin stands out as a global powerhouse.

In a ranking released October 26, UT Austin appears at No. 43 among the best global universities. It’s the only Texas school to land in the top 100.

To the surprise of probably no one, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, claims the No. 1 spot.

To compile its list, U.S. News evaluated more than 1,700 schools around the world based on 13 factors tied to reputation, research publication and citations, and scientific excellence. In the U.S., 271 schools made the list.

“These rankings stand out from our other education rankings due to their emphasis on academic research,” Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, says in a news release.

In a separate news release, UT toots its own horn about the U.S. News recognition, citing the school’s lofty position among the “global elite” in higher education.

The school also notes the publication’s callout of academic subject rankings, with UT placing in the top 25 in the world for mathematics (No. 18), materials science (No. 23), arts and humanities (No. 24; tie), and geosciences (No. 24).

Elsewhere in U.S. News’ top 200:

  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas ties for 124th place.
  • The Baylor College of Medicine in Houston ties for 135th place.
  • Texas A&M University in College Station appears at No. 140.
  • Rice University in Houston appears at No. 167.

Fort Worth grabs life by the horns as No. 5 city to live after college

honor roll

For many college students, it’s tough to imagine life after college when they’re cramming for exams and cranking out research papers. Yet the time does come when they’ll venture into the “real world” with their degrees.

Before graduation rolls around, college students often find themselves wondering where to start their after-school journeys. To help with this homework, real estate website Point2 has developed a list of the best places for life after college, and Fort Worth ropes the No. 5 ranking.

Poor Dallas is way down the list, barely registering at No. 21.

Austin — home of the University of Texas — comes in at No. 1.

The website looked at an array of factors to come up with its ranking, such as population growth, business growth, median age, household income growth, poverty rate, and housing availability and prices.

Point2 considered only the 86 places that host the country’s 100 most successful colleges and universities, as rated by U.S. News & World Report.

Fort Worth — of course, home to prestigious Texas Christian University, Texas Wesleyan, and Tarrant County College — was noted in Point2's study among America’s top 10 most dynamic college towns in terms of population growth (no secret everyone's moving here!), change in business establishments, and building permits.

Plus, anyone who's tailgated or sat in the stands at a TCU football game knows Fort Worth comes out in droves to cheer for its hometown Horned Frogs.

Other Texas communities on the list are:

  • No. 17 College Station, home of Texas A&M University.
  • No. 24 Waco, home of Baylor University.
  • No. 33 Houston, home of Rice University.

“While education and innovation keep these educational institutions on the map, it’s the economic and social conditions in the city that convince students to pursue a career and build a life in their college town. That’s why household incomes, home prices, the number of businesses and startups, and even the city’s poverty rates weigh heavy,” Point2 says.

George Strait/Instagram

Texas music icons George Strait and Willie Nelson to share stage for just 2nd time in history

If it wasn't for Texas ...

On the cowboy boot heels of his acclaimed headlining performances at this year’s ACL Music Festival, the king of country music George Strait will not, in fact, ride away. He's returning to the stage with another Texas music legend, Willie Nelson, in a shared-stage performance that's happened just once before in the icons' storied careers.

Strait and Nelson will perform April 29, 2022 as part of the grand opening celebration of Moody Center, a new $338 million venue opening on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

The show, dubbed "Strait from Moody Center," bills Strait as the headliner, with special guests Willie Nelson & Family, and Randy Rogers Band noted as special guests.

Exclusive VIP packages and tickets for the grand opening show go on sale Friday, October 22 at 10 am on the Moody Center website. There’s no word yet on specific ticket prices.

“I’m so glad I’ll get to ‘sing one with Willie,’ and I can’t think of a better place to do it than Austin, Texas,” says Strait, who holds the unique distinction of having more No. 1 songs than any other artist in history. “Willie is an incredible musician and an even better person, so I know this will be a great night together along with our friends from Randy Rogers Band.”

The event, which will give many Texans their first opportunity to check out the new 15,000-seat music venue, also holds special significance in another way, as Texas treasure Nelson turns 89 years old the night of the show. And who doesn’t want to spend Willie’s birthday with the Red Headed Stranger himself?

“While planning our grand opening celebration, we knew we had an obligation to pay homage to the Lone Star State. George, Willie, and Randy are all Texas natives who have built legendary careers while having an unbelievable impact on the country music industry,” says Jeff Nickler, general manager of Moody Center. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this.”

Strait from Moody Center is among several shows already announced for the venue’s first days, including planned performances from The Weeknd on April 19, 2022 (a move from its original April 18 date); John Mayer on April 20, 2022; and Justin Bieber on April 27, 2022.

Before tickets for the Strait from Moody Center show go on sale to the public October 22, American Express card members can score them Wednesday, October 13 at 10 am through Thursday, October 21 at 10 pm. Fans can also sign up for the Moody Center newsletter before Monday, October 18 to get venue pre-sale access from Wednesday, October 20 at 10 am until Thursday, October 21 at 10 pm.

Health and safety procedures for the show will follow guidance from public health authorities, and enhanced COVID-19 protocols may be added as the show date nears. Fans can get the latest COVID-19 info regarding Moody Center on the venue’s website.

TCU climbs the charts in prestigious new U.S. News & World Report college rankings

Head of the class

A trusted annual report that compares more than 1,400 undergraduate institutions in the United States has given the Horned Frogs a reason to be proud. U.S. News & World Report's new 2021 Best Colleges report has ranked Fort Worth's Texas Christian University No. 80 nationwide. That's up 17 spots from ranking of No. 97 in 2020.

This, on the heels of another recent report, by neighborhood review site Niche.com, that ranked TCU No. 6 in Texas and No. 110 nationwide.

The U.S. News report, released September 14, gave TCU high marks in the categories of Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (No. 33), Best Colleges for Veterans (No. 50), Best Undergraduate Teaching (No. 61), Best Value Schools (No. 87), and also cited it as No. 366 in the category of Top Performers on Social Mobility. (No, that doesn't have to do with social media, although TCU is among Texas' most Instagrammed schools.)

“Although an institution’s quality cannot solely be judged by any publication’s set priorities, these rankings reaffirm what we at TCU already know — our academic excellence and student experience are among the best in the country for 148 years," says Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. in a release. "TCU has been a leading university because of our outstanding faculty and staff and our world-class students and alumni."

Nationally, TCU (somehow!) tied at No. 80 with a number of other schools: Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Michigan University in East Lansing, Michigan; North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina; University of Denver in Colorado; and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The prestigious U.S. News report compared the institutions across 17 measures of "academic quality" this year. Acknowledging the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students and schools, the publication made several updates to its methodology, notes a release.

For 2021, U.S. News added two new metrics to measure student debt. It also increased the weight of the outcome category, which measures graduation rates, retention rates, and social mobility, and reduced the weights for standardized test scores, high school class standing, and alumni giving. And, for the very first time, the report ranks test-blind schools (those that don't require an SAT or ACT score for admission).

"The pandemic has affected students across the country, canceling commencement ceremonies and switching classes from in person to remote," said Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer, in a release. "Whether students have slightly altered their college plans or changed them entirely, it remains our mission to continue providing students and their families with the tools they need to help find the right school for them."

Among Texas' other top schools, UT Austin ranks No. 42 nationally, up six spots from 2020. It's the school's highest ranking on the report since 1985, touts a news release from the university. UT Austin also rates as the top public university in Texas.

Elsewhere, Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M University are tied at No. 66 nationwide, while Baylor University comes in at No. 76.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the title of best university in Texas once again goes to Rice. The prestigious Houston school ranks No. 16 among national universities, up one spot from last year.

Besides earning high marks for its undergraduate teaching, innovation, and value, Rice gets special mention from U.S. News for its quality of student life.

"Rice University, located in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, offers a dynamic student life in the nation’s fourth-largest city," the report says.

So, which university is head of the class, nationally, in 2021?

That honor would go to Princeton University, followed by Harvard, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale to round out the top five.

Photo courtesy of the Moody College of Communication

Matthew McConaughey takes new role as professor at University of Texas

Wolf of Guadalupe Street

There's little doubt that Matthew McConaughey bleeds burnt orange. Among the positions the Austin A-lister holds at the University of Texas are: minister of culture, unofficial assistant coach of both the football and basketball teams, and owner of the finest suit ever fashioned out of burnt orange fabric.

Now, the Academy Award winner can add professor to his resume. On August 28, UT's Moody College of Communication announced McConaughey has been appointed a professor of practice beginning in the fall 2019 semester.

McConaughey has been a visiting instructor in the Moody's Department of Radio-Television-Film since 2015. The Academy Award winner, who actually graduated from the RTF program in 1993, began his tenure co-teaching the Script to Screen, a film production class.

According to UT, McConaughey "developed the course’s curriculum, which provides a unique, behind-the-scenes view of each stage of a film’s production" alongside Scott Rice, who teaches the course with McConaughey.

“It’s the class I wish I would have had when I was in film school. Working in the classroom with these students gives me a chance to prepare them,” McConaughey said in a release. “Making movies, turning words on paper into film, is both a science and art — no matter the time or generation."

It's easy to see why UT would want a bonafide Hollywood superstar on staff, but according to Noah Isenberg, chair of the RTF, McConaughey is a gifted teacher.

“He has a passion for teaching, and for all things cinematic, that is palpable, even infectious,” Isenberg said.

The university also offered a sneak peek at this semester's syllabus. Students in the fall 2019 course will be studying The Gentlemen and Mud, the acclaimed film by Austin-based director Jeff Nichols, and in which McConaughey stars. Nichols is also scheduled to speak to the class.

“We are proud to welcome Professor McConaughey to officially join our world-class faculty,” said Moody College Dean Jay Bernhardt. “Matthew cares deeply for our school and our students, and we are thrilled that he shares his time and talent to help prepare the next generation of media leaders and innovators.”

Professor McConaughey ... well that sounds alright, alright, alright.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

The Tastemaker Awards toast the best in Texas dining for 2023

A taste of Texas

It’s another one for CultureMap’s history books. The 2023 Tastemaker Awards, which recognized Texas' best chefs, restaurants, and more culinary superstars of the year, have finally come to a close.

The series kicked off April 13 with our sold-out Houston Tastemaker Award at Silver Street Studios, then we came home to Fort Worth, to the 4 Eleven, for our second annual event, April 27. The Texas culinary tour steered us over to Dallas' Fashion Industry Gallery on May 4. From there, we took a drive to the Hill Country for Austin’s evening festivities at Fair Market on May 11, then concluded our journey with our second-ever fête in San Antonio on May 18.

The 2023 Tastemaker Awards honor the state’s most innovative culinary pioneers, allowing nominated chefs and restaurants to showcase their talents for guests before announcing the winners during a live ceremony.

Guests sampled chefs’ specialty bites and imbibed a variety of creative cocktails or mocktails, with a few Topo Chicos sprinkled in throughout the evening. But as always, our nominees and winners are the main focus of our program and are the reason we can bring these celebrations to life.

While a panel of local food and beverage pros choses a majority of the winners, the winner of Best New Restaurant is determined by our readers in an online, bracket-style tournament. New this year in each city, a sizzling on-site Burger Throwdown sponsored by Goodstock Beef by Nolan Ryan.

Without further ado, let’s meet our 2023 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards winners, listed by city:

Fort Worth:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Fitzgerald
  • Chef of the Year: Juan Ramón Cárdenas, Don Artemio
  • Bar of the Year: Birdie’s Social Club
  • Best New Restaurant: Calisience
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Angel Fuentes, Guapo Taco
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Cafe Bella
  • Best Burger: Dayne’s Craft Barbecue
  • Best Brewery: Martin House Brewing Company


  • Restaurant of the Year: Shoyo
  • Chef of the Year: Junior Borges, Meridian
  • Bar of the Year: Lounge Here
  • Best New Restaurant: Quarter Acre
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Mike Matis, Fearing’s
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop
  • Bartender of the Year: Haley Merritt, Midnight Rambler
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: El Rincon del Maiz
  • Wine Program of the Year: Pappas Bros.
  • Best Burger: Wulf Burger
  • Brewery of the Year: Manhattan Project Beer Co.


CultureMap Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards 2023
Photo by Ashley Gongora

The ants garnishing Guapo Taco's chips were the talk of the Fort Worth event.

  • Restaurant of the Year: Bludorn
  • Chef of the Year: Mark Clayton, Squable
  • Bar of the Year: Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar and Spirit Lounge
  • Best New Restaurant: Aiko
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Emmanuel Chavez, Tatemó
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Shawn Gawle, Goodnight Hospitality
  • Bartender of the Year: Kristine Nguyen, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Craft Pita
  • Wine Program of the Year: Nancy’s Hustle
  • Best Pop-Up: Khói Barbecue
  • Best Burger: Burger Bodega


  • Restaurant of the Year: Birdie’s
  • Chef of the Year: Amanda Turner, Olamaie
  • Rising Star Chef of the Year: Joaquin Ceballos, Este
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Mariela Camacho, Comadre Panadería
  • Bar of the Year: Nickel City
  • Bartender of the Year: Erin Ashford, Olamaie
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: Nixta Taqueria
  • Wine Program of the Year: Bufalina
  • Brewery of the Year: Lazarus Brewing Co.
  • Best Burger: Dai Due
  • Best New Restaurant: Maie Day

San Antonio:

  • Restaurant of the Year: Carriqui
  • Chef of the Year: Robbie Nowlin, Allora, Arrosta
  • Bar of the Year: Amor Eterno
  • Brewery of the Year: Künstler Brewing
  • Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year: The Magpie
  • Pastry Chef of the Year: Sofia Tejeda, Hotel Emma
  • Best Burger: Last Place Burger
  • Best New Restaurant: Reese Bros BBQ

These are the 5 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

Doughnuts, burgers, and whiskey – oh my! A sweet collaboration happens this Friday night. Also plan for a summer afternoon tea, a complimentary wine tasting, museum happy hour, and a hysterical wine tasting event themed after a hit comedy.

Thursday, June 1

Crimson Wine Tasting at Neighbor’s House Grocery
The boutique downtown grocer and eatery hosts complimentary wine tasting for sipping and shopping. Guests will get to try four different wines from Napa’s Crimson Wine Group. Drop by anytime from 4:30-6:30 pm.

Friday, June 2

Kimbell Happy Hour
Friday means it’s time for the Kimbell Art Museum’s weekend happy hour. Visit from 5-7 pm for beverages and bites, along with live music by the Allegro Guitar Society. Members will receive 10 percent off drinks.

Doughnut-Burger Collaboration at Whiskey Ranch
Whiskey Ranch does National Doughnut Day with a sweet and savory collab featuring three Fort Worth favorites: TX Whiskey, FunkyTown Donuts, and JD’s Hamburgers. The $35 ticket includes three different TX cocktails paired with gourmet mini doughnuts, including a bacon burger doughnut slider by JD’s. Cocktails include Blackberry Sour, Pecan Old Fashioned, and Parker County Peach TX Whiskey Tea. There’ll also be DJ music and a build-your-own-doughnut hole sundae bar. The event will run from 6-9 pm.

Saturday, June 3

Catalina Canned Wine Mixer at Truck Yard Alliance
Truck Yard in Alliance is throwing a “bro-down” party themed after the 2008 hit movie Step Brothers. Wear your best tuxedo t-shirt for a wine tasting, photo ops, food trucks, and a Step Brothers cover band. Admission is free, but a $15 wine tasting is offered from 7-9 pm, featuring six wine samples and a souvenir glass filled with frose. Costume contests will be held at 5 pm and 10 pm.

Sunday, June 4

Summer Afternoon Tea at Indulge
The downtown cooking studio and tea room will host a Sunday afternoon summer tea party. Enjoy three courses including chicken tarragon sandwiches, roasted vegetable phyllo cups, and street corn crostinis, along with scones with clotted cream and jam, cream puffs, madeleines, and shortbread cookies. Tea choices include black or herbal blend. The tea service is $65 and begins at 2 pm.