Archive For Alumni & Friends
Last week, longtime UT supporters Bob and Marcie Zlotnik gave $5 million toward the construction of Robert B. Rowling Hall, the new graduate education building at the McCombs School of Business. Bob and Marcie are Texas Exes and founders of the Houston-based energy company StarTex Power. In recognition of their gift, the ballroom in the new building will be named the Zlotnik Family Ballroom. The innovative space, which will be underground, will connect Rowling Hall to the neighboring AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. It will give the graduate business program and the conference center the capacity to attract large-scale conferences and events that will benefit the University and its students.
The gift is a significant step toward raising the $58 million required to build Rowling Hall.
The Zlotniks have a long history of supporting business education and athletics at UT. Bob received his BBA in 1975 and MBA in 1980, and Marcie earned her BBA in 1983. Earmarking their gift for the ballroom was a family decision, made with their three sons. Kevin and Mitchell are both current McCombs students, and Matthew is in high school. The Zlotniks previously donated $1 million to establish a chair in entrepreneurship. Bob is a member of the McCombs Advisory Council and will serve as chair starting in November. Marcie serves on UT Austin’s Development Board.
I’m proud the name of this great family will be connected to the campus.
Photo by Sasha Haagensen
Because of the rising cost of college, many Americans naturally wonder if a college degree is still worth it. A new study from the Pew Research Center, “The Rising Cost of Not Going to College,” makes clear that, even from a purely economic perspective, the answer is yes. College graduates continue to widen their economic advantage over non-college graduates, even as their percentage of the whole increases. If we compare the median income of those aged 25-32, college graduates make $45,500, compared to $28,000 for those with only high school diplomas.
What’s more, the study underscores the importance of graduating as opposed to just attending college. The median income of those who have some college education but did not graduate is $30,000, just $2,000 higher than those who did not attend at all. What better evidence could there be that college completion should be our highest priority?
This New York Times article from Monday offers a summary and further analysis of the study.
College is a significant expense. But as the report’s co-author Paul Taylor says in the Times piece, “…the only thing more expensive than going to college is not going to college.”
Clockwise from top left: Thomas Edgar, Greg Fenves,
Bob Schutz, and Yale Patt
The National Academy of Engineering announced Thursday that four professors from UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering have been elected to its ranks. The academy inducted 67 new members and 11 foreign associates; UT Austin had the most new members of any university this year. I’m especially proud that the inductees include our executive vice president and provost, Greg Fenves. The inductees are:
- Thomas Edgar, director of the Energy Institute at UT Austin and the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Engineering, who is recognized for contributions to mathematical modeling, optimization and automatic control of chemical and microelectronics processes, and for professional leadership.
- Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of UT Austin, who is recognized for contributions to computational modeling, creation of open-source software for earthquake engineering analysis, and for academic leadership. Prior to becoming provost, Fenves served as the eighth dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
- Yale Patt, the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Centennial Chair in Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who was elected for contributions to high-performance microprocessor architecture.
- Bob Schutz, the Joe J. King Chair of Engineering in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, who was elected for his contribution to the use of satellite laser ranging and GPS tracking to study Earth system dynamics.
Provost Fenves and Professors Edgar, Patt, and Schutz are exactly the type of UT Austin faculty who change the world every day. Their research and their distinguished careers as teachers have shaped generations of engineering students and enhanced our understanding of the world.
Giving students and faculty the opportunity to interact directly with top experts and officials is an important feature of a research university education. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz visited the campus to speak to students, faculty members, staff, and the media about America’s current energy situation.
Sec. Moniz said that the administration’s pursuit of an “all-of-the-above” energy policy “maps very well onto what you’re doing here at The University of Texas… This campus is engaged in so many of our programs, including in clean energy.” He called out the work that the Jackson School of Geosciences is doing in geothermal energy research and recognized Prof. Allen Bard as “the father of electrochemistry,” to whom he and President Obama bestowed the Fermi Award in the Oval Office on Monday. (Bard is director of UT’s Center for Electrochemistry and the Hackerman-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry.)
“…this campus [is] a research powerhouse, especially in the arena of energy,” he said. “The fact that so many students are willing to put their energies into solving these problems is our best hope for the future.”
What starts here changes the world.
From left: Hap Hunnicutt, Steve Stevens, Bill Powers, and John O. Smith
This week, I had the honor of hosting the Executive Committee, vice presidents, and staff of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in my office. Approximately 480 current Longhorn students are at UT because of the hard work these people have put into raising scholarships, which currently total $7,769,000 over the students’ four years at UT.
Since the first scholarships were awarded in the 1980s, some 1,800 Longhorns have received more than $20 million in support. In addition to $7,577,000 for normal scholarships, the organization is awarding an additional $176,000 for achievement scholarships given to top juniors and seniors.
What’s more, each year the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sponsors a “UT Night,” in which they celebrate all things Longhorn. I’m looking forward to going on March 18, as I do each year. I hope you’ll support this organization that has done so much to support UT Austin.
Hook ’em Horns,
Last week, we celebrated the largest gift of the Campaign for Texas and one of the largest gifts in the 135 year history of the University. Jim and Miriam Mulva, already among the largest donors to The University of Texas at Austin, have pledged $60 million to UT.
The historic gift will support two critical construction projects on the campus: $20 million will support the building of the Engineering Education and Research Center and the Cockrell School of Engineering. And $40 million will support the renovation of the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business buildings at the McCombs School of Business.
In recognition of this gift, we are dedicating the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Conference Center and Auditorium, to be completed in 2017. And at the McCombs School, the CBA/GSB will be renamed James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Hall.
I know you will join me in thanking the Mulva family for this transformative gift. It will be exciting to watch our campus change and grow because of it, and our engineering and business students will be indebted to them for decades to come.
What starts here changes the world.
Photo by John Everett for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Today marks a major milestone in the development of UT’s Dell Medical School as we announce the selection of our inaugural dean. I’m delighted that Dr. Clay Johnston will lead the creation of a world-class medical school at UT Austin.
Clay Johnston is a physician and a Ph.D. and comes to us from the University of California, San Francisco, where he has served as associate vice chancellor of research, director of stroke service, and as a professor of neurology and epidemiology as well as director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He earned his bachelor’s at Amherst College, completed medical school at Harvard, and earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology at UC-Berkeley. He has published extensively on the prevention and treatment of stroke. He is the Executive Vice Editor of the Annals of Neurology and has served on the editorial boards of several other journals. He has won multiple national honors for his work in the field of strokes.
Dean Johnston will begin on March 1. I know you will join me in giving him a warm UT welcome.
On Thursday, I was honored to attend a higher education summit at the White House. Hosted by President Obama and attended by First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the meeting was attended by approximately 100 education leaders from across the country.
The evening and then day-long session was focused on college access and success for low-income students, an issue the president has kept a sustained focus on, and an issue on which we have worked hard here at UT Austin, with special emphasis on the importance of timely graduation. I’m proud of the initiatives we have taken here to control the cost of college, and I pledge to continue working to keep a UT Austin education within reach of all students. You can read news coverage of the event at:
Hook ’em Horns,
Photo: Matt Wade Photography via Wikimedia Commons
Each year, the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, ranks the economic performance of U.S. cities, and this year, the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metropolitan area was ranked America’s Best Performing Large City. The institute noted that “The Lone Star State, which has both technology and energy assets, claimed three of the Top 10 and seven of the Top 25 large cities.” In the institute’s own words:
This year’s Best-Performing City, Austin, is a case study in concocting the proper recipe for economic vitality. A rising technology center, it is creating high-quality jobs that improve the region’s overall wage structure. Economic development officials rightly tout its business-friendly, low-tax, low-regulation climate when recruiting outside the state, particularly when soliciting California firms. They also herald the business startups of local entrepreneurs, the spinouts from the University of Texas, Austin, and the number and quality of UT graduates.
Austin’s technology base is fairly diversified: hardware, chips and communication gear, computer system design, Internet-related services, and biomedical research. The metro has its share of homegrown tech companies — Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, Flextronics International, and National Instruments among them — and has been successful at attracting technology icons from elsewhere as well. The financial services sector is also adding jobs.
I’m proud of the huge economic driver UT Austin continues to be both for our state and for our area. With the addition of UT’s Dell Medical School, our power to drive innovation and the economy will only increase.
What starts here changes the world.
Photo by UT philosophy junior Amyn Kassam
As many of you know, UT recently lost a great friend and Distinguished Alumnus. Jack Blanton, a leader in the energy industry, philanthropy, and higher education, died in Houston on Dec. 28 at the age of 86. Jack served UT in countless ways. He supported programs as varied as the law school, the Wildflower Center, British Studies, athletics, nursing, and, of course, the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, named in his honor in 1997.
Jack’s campus involvement extended to scores of initiatives, including the Centennial Commission, the Commission of 125, the Development Board, and his service as president of the Texas Exes. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1977. Jack was appointed to the Board of Regents in 1985 and was elected chairman in 1987. At a time when educational budgets were severely challenged, he was instrumental in increasing state revenue, much of which supported higher education in Texas. The UT System awarded him its Santa Rita Award in 1994.
Jack earned a bachelor’s degree in history at the University in 1947 and a law degree in 1950. After graduation, he worked for the Scurlock Oil Company in Houston, which he would eventually lead. He also served as president of Eddy Refining Company.
I will miss this great friend and leader, whose name will forever be held dear on our campus.