Archive for August, 2011
It’s an exciting time to be a Longhorn. On Friday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m., the Longhorn Network, the nation’s first network partnership devoted to a single university, goes live.
First things first: we need a big crowd on the South Mall Friday afternoon because our first moments on the air will be a live broadcast of College GameDay, and our partner, ESPN, is pulling out all the stops for the big launch. So come out by 5:00, wear burnt orange, get rowdy, and you’ll be able to say you were there for the first hour of the Longhorn Network.
For those of you who can’t make it to campus, hopefully you’ll be watching from home. It’s customary for distribution negotiations to continue until the last possible minute, and ours has been no exception. Deals are still being finalized, and to find out whether your provider is carrying the network check http://www.texassports.com/multimedia/tv-network-aggregate.html. If your provider is not yet listed, we encourage you to contact them and request the Longhorn Network.
This partnership is a huge development in the life of the University. Although UT’s 20 sports will be its mainstay, you will see a substantial amount of programming shining the spotlight on UT’s intellectual life. Game Changers will feature live-in-studio talks by UT’s most engaging professors. You’ll also see expertly produced segments on research and discovery, teaching, campus life, and cultural performances as well as films and documentaries by students.
The network will also carry live broadcasts of many annual campus events, starting with my State of the University Address on Sept. 14. I know the quality and breadth of coverage we’re about to see will make you even prouder of our amazing university.
In addition to all that, the revenue that the network will generate – $300 million over 20 years – will help support academic programs. Already we have endowed five chairs, in physics, philosophy, mathematics, art history, and African and diaspora studies.
Concurrent with the network launch, you’ll be seeing the roll-out of UT’s new promotional TV campaign, filmed on campus earlier this month. These spots are amazing, and I want to thank our longtime agency partners GSD&M for their imagination and hard work.
My thanks, of course, go to Women’s Athletics Director Chris Plonsky for her tireless work and to Men’s Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds, who had the vision for the Longhorn Network and made it a reality.
These events are just the most recent examples of UT changing the game. We’re not afraid to do things differently here, and we’re not afraid to do them first.
Last night I joined 7,000 brand new Longhorns, UT’s Class of 2015, to celebrate the start of a new academic year. The annual “Gone to Texas” freshman welcome is a bookend to our commencement ceremony, and – our record heat notwithstanding – it was an invigorating night. It’s one of my favorite events because of how current student leaders, through music, dance, and inspirational messages, welcome and induct new students into the Longhorn family. They, not the faculty or administrators, explain our core purpose and values and lead new students in swearing to uphold our Honor Code.
This morning, the sun rose on a new academic year, as students all over UT’s 423 acres reported to class to begin a new cycle of learning and growth. They’ll make connections with their professors and teaching assistants, connections with each other, connections to our University’s history and traditions, and, most importantly, connections to a greater knowledge of the world and themselves.
Thanks to all of you who are contributing in a thousand different ways to make this a truly special place. Let’s have a great year.
Hook ’em Horns!
Photos by Marsha Miller
In 2000, my predecessor, President Larry Faulkner, identified the need for a small group of leaders to advise him on UT’s complex budget. The resulting University Budget Council has been a very valuable tool for helping direct our funds toward our institutional priorities. Today I’m announcing that, for the first time, we have established dedicated positions on the council for a faculty member and a student.
Professor Andrea Gore of the College of Pharmacy will serve as the first faculty member, and Natalie Butler, a Plan II senior, has agreed to serve as our first student member. (Natalie happens to be Student Government president this year, but this is not an ex officio position for the SG president.)
In addition to these two new seats, the council includes the president, executive vice president and provost, vice provost, chief financial officer, vice president for university operations, budget director, and deputy to the president for a total of nine.
I believe having a faculty member and a student as permanent positions within the council will add two important dimensions to this deliberative body, will help us better incorporate the perspective of those crucial constituencies, and demonstrates our commitment to transparency.
I look forward to getting Andrea’s and Natalie’s counsel on our university’s priorities.
Hook ’em Horns,
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting with our incoming class of Senior College Fellows, who are all Army colonels and lieutenant colonels with 20-25 years of experience in the military. They’ll be on the Forty Acres for one year attending classes as part of their master’s degree program at the U.S. Army War College.
In 1991, the Army designated UT Austin as a host university for the Army’s Senior Service College Fellows Program, and UT has the largest number of fellows of any participant school. By the time they graduate in May, these 11 will have attained the highest level of military education this nation has to offer and, in the process, will have shared a great deal of wisdom with our students.
I’m grateful for their service and excited about their upcoming year on the campus.
Hook ’em Horns,
We have known for years that a UT degree is a good value, but it’s still nice to get outside confirmation.
According to a survey just published by SmartMoney Magazine, UT Austin is the second-best value in the United States. Working with PayScale, a compensation data company that maintains salary profiles of 29 million workers, the magazine developed a “Payback Score” that compares what graduates paid in tuition with their salaries. If you paid $100,000 to attend college and are now earning $150,000 a year, your score would be 150, so the higher the score the better. Georgia Tech scored the highest with 221, and UT placed with 194.
The survey found that in general public universities yielded a higher return on investment: “If our payback survey were a football game, the public schools would be spiking the ball in the end zone and kissing the mascots.”
The report goes on to say …
“Paul Ott, the Dallas father who counseled his son to go to a public college …, says they are anticipating getting an additional $2,000 or more in state scholarships from The University of Texas. At a recent freshman orientation in Austin, Ott says, another dad shared how Texas helped his son land a well-paying job in computer science at a Houston oil services firm after a summer internship. ‘The fellow said his son is making more money straight out of college than he did after 30 years,’ Ott recalls. Both the elder and younger Ott say they’d be more than happy with a graduation present like that.”
A college degree is about a lot more than a financial return, but a good one certainly doesn’t hurt.
Hook ‘em Horns,
Last week I traveled to Brownsville for one of my favorite events of the year, the Brownsville “Senior Send-off.” The Brownsville Chapter of the Texas Exes started this tradition 18 years ago and it’s still going strong. I met with 40 incoming freshmen from Cameron and Willacy counties and visited with their parents and area alumni as well.
The Texas Exes coordinate about 15 of these events every summer, and they can range from a backyard picnic for a few local students headed to the Forty Acres to Dallas’ 400-student Send-off complete with organizational booths. No matter what the scale of the event, I know that these Send-offs are exciting for students, reassuring to parents, and meaningful service for alumni.
A big thank you goes out to all our Texas Exes volunteers around the country for helping these new Longhorns get off to a good start.
Hook ‘em Horns,
If you live in Austin, you might have noticed that the Tower looked a little different Wednesday night. With the help of our long-time marketing partner GSD&M, we turned the Tower in to a spinning, pulsating Rubik’s cube of alumni portraits. The cutting-edge projection on the Tower’s south and east sides was for a new series of promotional spots that will air with the launch of the new Longhorn Network at the end of the month. I’ve posted some cell phone video on my Facebook page to give you the idea. It was breathtaking to watch live, and the end result is going to be even better:
I also want to mention that I’m encouraged by the recent creation of WGU Texas, the subsidiary of Western Governors University that offers flexible and affordable educational opportunities. I congratulate Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, and Rep. Dan Branch for their efforts to increase educational choices for Texans.
WGU will offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, information technology, education, and health professions. It primarily serves working adults and offers college coursework for about $5,800 per year.
UT Austin’s goal is to become the best public research university in the nation. But in order to meet the educational needs of all Texans, the state needs a wide a variety of institutions, and this is a very desirable step forward.