Archive For Alumni & Friends
For many years, UT Austin has offered a world-class education at a very affordable price. Yesterday, we received new outside confirmation of this. According to the website AffordableCollegesOnline.org, UT Austin ranks No. 8 in the country for affordability among large public colleges.
AffordableCollegesOnline compiled its list using data sets from:
- The National Center for Education Statistics, the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.
- The Integrated Post-secondary Education Data System, the primary federal source for data on colleges, universities, and technical and vocational postsecondary schools in the United States, and
- Carnegie Classification, a system widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and control for institutional differences.
I am very proud of this ranking; it means we are combining affordability with quality.
Hook ’em Horns,
Photo by Amyn Kassam, Class of 2016
Every day I see firsthand the importance of having strong national research universities in Texas. Three Texas congressmen — Lamar Smith, Michael McCaul, and Roger Williams — joined us yesterday on our campus to dedicate Stampede, our newest supercomputer. It’s capable of processing nearly 10 quadrillion mathematical computations per second. Stampede is currently the largest system available to scientists across the United States, thousands of whom will use the supercomputer to conduct scientific research and make discoveries as diverse as isolating new drug compounds, modeling the effects of climate change, searching for gravitational waves, and developing more efficient energy resources.
UT Austin won a nationwide competition for a $51.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to build Stampede. That’s good for your university, good for the advancement of science, and good for Texas.
We’ve had a lot of good news lately:
- Microsoft founder Bill Gates was on campus to dedicate the Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall, made possible by a $30 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and $10 million from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.
- Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won Big 12 championships. Good luck to the men, who will be competing for the national championship this weekend.
- Former Regent Robert Rowling and his wife, Terry, pledged $25 million for a new home for the McCombs School of Business graduate programs to be named Rowling Hall.
- A record 38,000 students applied for the 2013-14 freshman class.
I hope you are as proud as I am of all that the University is accomplishing every day with the help of alumni, students, faculty, and staff.
As president of UT, I’m fortunate to be around innovators every day. But March 8 was special by any measure. That day, as part of South by Southwest Interactive, I was privileged to host a gathering here in the Tower of high-powered thought leaders and trendsetters.
Our innovators included people like National Instruments founder James Truchard, a three-UT-degree holder and former UT faculty member, and Janet Walkow, chief technology officer of the Drug Dynamics Institute. From the world of politics and journalism we had State Senator Kirk Watson, New York Times media columnist and author David Carr, and Texas Tribune CEO and editor-in-chief Evan Smith. Our own Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg and Stephen Wolfram, chief designer of Mathematica software, mingled with entrepreneurs like Gary Hoover, founder of Bookstop and Hoover’s, Inc. and Netspend co-founder Roy Sosa, as well as his wife, Suzi Sosa, director of the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Professor Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet co-inventor and UT’s own director of innovation, and Rob Adams, director of Texas Venture Labs, were instrumental to the event’s success. These are only a few.
It was a great addition to South by Southwest that brought together diverse leaders who embody the wide range of disciplines the University supports. More than ever, the Forty Acres is a place where great minds meet.
What starts here changes the world.
Last spring I created the Task Force on the Honor Code and Student Judicial Process. I charged the group, chaired by business professor Linda Golden, with determining whether the University needed to make its honor code more succinct and practical. At the time, it read:
“The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honest, trust, fairness and respect toward peers and community.”
In its final report in May, the task force concluded the honor code did need to be shorter and more practical. I then asked student leaders for advice on the wording, and in September, the Senate of College Councils passed a resolution calling for the code to be changed to:
“As a student of The University of Texas at Austin, I shall abide by the core values of the University and uphold academic integrity.”
Having reviewed the proposal with other students, faculty, staff, deans, and executive officers, I approved this new code as the “Student Honor Code” and, because it’s important that all members of the University community — students, staff, and faculty — conduct themselves in a manner that upholds our core values, we are retaining the original as the “University Code of Conduct.”
I’m proud that our students chose academic integrity to be the centerpiece of their own code of honor. And I’m proud they are actively elevating the ethical culture of their university. This week, which is IntegrityUT Week, hundreds of students signed a large copy of the new Student Honor Code on Gregory Plaza, and on Tuesday night more than 100 students attended the Ethics and Research Dinner, which featured distinguished research professors including my predecessor Dr. Larry Faulkner.
Integrity and knowledge walk hand-in-hand, and nowhere more than at a university. As Samuel Johnson once said, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” My thanks to all who worked on this project.
What starts here changes the world.
Wednesday was a big day for UT Austin. In a ceremony attended by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, we officially dedicated the Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall located in the heart of campus on the east side of Speedway. It was a great honor to have Bill Gates on our campus, an occasion made even better by his speaking to our students after the dedication. He shared his thoughts with students about the interplay between technology and philanthropy for social good.
He also wanted to highlight the work of our own faculty and selected professors Calvin Lin and Lauren Ancel Meyers to talk about their work during the same session. Dr. Lin is a computer science professor and director of the Turing Scholars Honors Program, and Dr. Meyers is a professor of integrative biology who works on mathematical models to predict the spread of infectious diseases.
In thanks for his visit, the College of Natural Sciences and UT alumnus Bob O’Rear (Microsoft’s seventh employee) and his wife Cathy have funded a research stream in the college’s Freshman Research Initiative in Bill and Melinda Gates’ honor. A total of 90 freshmen over three years will research technologies that will help people diagnose their own health. This research stream, conceived by our College of Natural Sciences, combines Bill Gates’ three biggest areas of interest: education, public health, and technology.
It was a great day that marked the beginning of three years of high-impact research in honor of Bill and Melinda Gates, and many decades of advancement in computer science thanks to them, Michael and Susan Dell, and many other donors. My thanks too to Dean Linda Hicke and her team in the College of Natural Sciences, Computer Science Chair Bruce Porter, his predecessor Dr. J. Moore, and all the faculty and staff who helped make UT Austin home to this state-of-the-art facility.
What starts here changes the world.
Photos by Marsha Miller/UT Austin
Tonight, I have the pleasure of awarding the University’s highest honors, starting with the Presidential Citation, which will go to four vital members of The University of Texas family. This year’s recipients are:
- Joe Jamail, one of America’s most successful trial lawyers, an alumnus, and a long-time UT benefactor in numerous areas
- Peter O’Donnell, one of most generous supporters of UT in its history and the namesake of the O’Donnell Building for Applied Computational Engineering and Sciences
- Pamela Willeford, a former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein and an alumna who has been one of the most active volunteer leaders in the University family, and
- Judith Zaffirini, an alumna and the second longest-serving senator (and highest-ranking female and Hispanic senator) in the Texas Senate who has long supported UT in many critical ways
Other honorees tonight will include recipients of the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award, which recognizes excellence in undergraduate teaching:
- Jane Arledge, Lecturer, Department of Mathematics
- Ruth Buskirk, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences
- Michael Scott, Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science
- Wendy Domjan, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology
- Patrick Davis, Senior Associate Dean and Professor, College of Pharmacy
The Arno Nowotny Medal, which is awarded to staff members of the Division of Student Affairs, will go to David H. Stones, a former associate registrar and database coordinator who was instrumental in modernizing our registration process among many other accomplishments.
The Civitatis Award, presented to a faculty member who has shown exemplary campus citizenship throughout a career of service at UT, will go to Sue A. Greninger, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science who has served for nine consecutive years as secretary of the General Faculty and the Faculty Council.
I’m so proud of all of this year’s recipients. The Tower will glow orange tonight in their honor.
Thursday I had the pleasure of traveling to El Paso to meet with friends of the University who have responded to a challenge from Woody Hunt.
Woody, a Texas Ex and former regent, has pledged $1 million to the McCombs School of Business if it can raise $2 million. A portion is designated to scholarships for El Paso students, and El Pasoans have risen to the occasion, contributing $350,000 so far.
With its young population and vibrant economic opportunities, El Paso plays critical role in the life of our state, and its relative importance will continue to increase in the years to come. I want to thank Woody for his generosity and vision, both for UT Austin and for the El Paso region. And I also want to thank Amy and Clement Marcus for hosting the lunch and reception for the El Paso community and Regent Paul Foster for being at the event.
What starts here changes the world.
On Saturday night, I had the privilege of being a part of the Blanton Museum of Art’s gala celebrating a half century. (Although the current building opened in 2006, the institution dates to 1963.) The golden anniversary is also being marked by the exhibit “Through the Eyes of Texas: Masterworks from Alumni Collections.” This is one of the most exciting exhibits to be shown in Central Texas in memory, and it’s all the more special because it’s our own alumni and friends directly enriching the education of our students.
The eclectic exhibit of nearly 200 pieces includes ancient Mayan vessels, tribal masks, Chinese jade, Renaissance paintings, and Old Master prints and drawings, which are showcased alongside more contemporary works by artists such as Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe.
The lenders to the exhibition include alumni Jeanne and Michael Klein of Austin, Mary Winton Green of Chicago, Judy and Charles Tate of Houston, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky of Dallas, and Darren Walker and David Beitzel of New York. The exhibit will be on display through May 19.
To be a world-class university, we need a world-class art museum, and fortunately we have one in the Blanton, which is flourishing under the leadership of Director Simone Wicha. I’m so proud of what it has accomplished in its first half century, and I’m excited about where it’s heading.
What starts here changes the world.
With deep regret, I’m announcing that Dr. Steven Leslie has decided to step down as UT’s provost and executive vice president and return to teaching and research as of August 31.
For the past six years, Provost Leslie has been an indispensable partner in transforming the academic life of The University of Texas. He has guided our deans and vice provosts with a steady hand and a vision that encompasses all aspects of this vast university.
Before I recruited him to serve as the University’s chief academic officer, Dr. Leslie was dean of UT’s College of Pharmacy and was a popular teacher and leading researcher in the field of alcoholism. We’re happy he has decided to remain on the Forty Acres and continue the academic life at which he has excelled for so long. In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of searching for his successor.
Though he will remain close by, I will miss his leadership, his personal warmth, and his kindness. Steve, thank you for your years of outstanding service. We’re a better university because of you.
Recently, three of our faculty members have been honored with top prizes in science.
C. Grant Willson, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, has won the Japan Prize, an international award similar to the Nobel Prize, for his development of a process that is now used to manufacture nearly all microprocessors and memory chips. He will share the 50 million yen prize (approximately $560,000) with his colleague Jean M.J. Fréchet. The Japan Prize Presentation Ceremony and Banquet, with the emperor of Japan in attendance, will take place in April.
Also this month, the White House announced that UT’s Allen Bard, chemistry professor and director of the Center for Electrochemistry, and engineering professor John Goodenough will receive the 2012 National Medal of Science. The honor is administered by the National Science Foundation and recognizes American scientists, engineers, and inventors. Bard and Goodenough will join 10 other scientists in a ceremony later this year. Only UT and Stanford contributed more than one faculty member to this year’s group of honorees.
In his 55 years teaching at UT Dr. Bard has trained generations of scientists and has pioneered scanning electron microscopy. Dr. Goodenough is widely credited with the development of the lithium-ion battery, critical to so many of the electronics embedded in our way of life.
Willson, Bard, and Goodenough are giants in their respective fields and have brought quality and prestige to a UT education. I’ve said many times that it’s our faculty that sets us apart, and I couldn’t be prouder of these three examples.