Archive For Student, Faculty & Staff
I’m thrilled that Brent Iverson has agreed to lead UT’s School of Undergraduate Studies, starting July 1. Dr. Iverson is a well-known and widely respected figure on campus, an award-winning teacher and researcher in organic chemistry. As someone who was part of the initial conception of the School of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Iverson is the perfect person to build on the successes of the school, creating pathways for leadership and excellence in undergraduate studies. He is a recognized teacher, researcher, and scholar, with a proven commitment to providing our undergraduates with the best academic experience possible.
Undergraduate Studies is key to our student success initiatives and classroom innovations. It has responsibility for the core curriculum, as well as more than 2,000 students who have not yet declared majors.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Iverson is an inventor on 18 issued U.S. patents. Working with George Georgiou and Jennifer Maynard of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, he helped develop a commercialized late-stage cure for exposure to anthrax.
Last night I hosted a reception honoring five UT faculty members inducted into three national academies. We should all take great pride in these inductions, as few honors embody our identity as a top research university as these do. The Tower was lighted orange in their honor.
National Academy of Engineering
Joseph J. Beaman Jr., the Earnest F. Gloyna Regents Chair in Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was elected for innovation, development and commercialization of solid freeform fabrication and selective laser sintering.
Sharon L. Wood, the Robert L. Parker Sr. Centennial Professor and chair in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for her design of reinforced concrete structures and associated seismic instrumentation for extreme loadings and environment.
Keith P. Johnston, chemical engineering professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers worldwide.
National Academy of Sciences
John Goodenough, a mechanical engineering professor who is widely credited for the scientific discovery and development of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Institute of Medicine
George Georgiou, a professor whose technology developments in the engineering, medical, biochemical and cellular fields could help treat tens of thousands of patients with diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis, has been elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
In addition, two new alumni members of the National Academy of Engineering were inducted:
Rex Tillerson, B.S. in civil engineering ’75, was recognized for engineering leadership in the production of hydrocarbons in remote and challenging environments. Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, has been a member of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board for the past six years and is a member of the UT Development Board.
Gregory Deierlein, Ph.D. in civil engineering ’88, is the John A. Blume Professor in the Stanford University School of Engineering. He was recognized for the development of advanced structural analysis and design techniques and their implementation in design codes.
Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for the honor you bring to the University.
The University of Texas at Austin has raised more than $300 million from donors during the current fiscal year, which does not end until Aug. 31. If it continues at the current pace, UT Austin will have its best fundraising year in history, surpassing the $366 million it raised in 2008.
I’m so grateful to our alumni and friends for the strategic investments they are making in UT Austin, and I’m very proud of the fundraising team we have in place that is succeeding so dramatically during these still-challenging economic times. I know we can reach our goal, and when we do, those funds will fuel UT’s ascent to the top tier of global public higher education.
Highlights of this year’s efforts include:
- UT Austin has raised $302 million year-to-date compared with $222 million at this point last year.
- The amount of total alumni giving year-to-date has virtually doubled, from approximately $87 million to $174 million.
- Gifts from estates have increased year-to-date by more than 150 percent, the result of increased efforts to encourage planned gifts when supporters write their wills.
- UT Austin has collected more than $1 million, on average, every business day in donations.
- The University has received more than 123,000 gifts made this fiscal year.
Major gifts and pledges contributing to this year’s success have included:
- $50 million from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation for the creation of the Dell Medical School at UT Austin
- $25 million from the Robert Rowling Family toward the construction of a new building for graduate studies at the McCombs School of Business
- Five estate gifts of $5 million or more
The numbers bode well for the “Campaign for Texas,” the University’s ambitious $3 billion, eight-year capital campaign. Only two other public universities in the United States are attempting to raise $3 billion, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Virginia.
To date, UT Austin has raised more than $2.1 billion for the campaign. Before the “Campaign for Texas,” the most successful capital campaign in the state was UT Austin’s “We’re Texas” campaign of the late 1990s, which raised $1.6 billion.
Thank you, and Hook ‘em Horns!
As we head into the homestretch of our academic year, I want to update you on some of the successes we’re seeing at UT.
Many of you know that we are in the midst of an intensive campaign to raise our four-year graduation rate to 70 percent. David Laude, our senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, and his team are doing a great job. Out of the more than 8,000 full-time, first-time freshmen who entered in fall 2012, 98.6 percent continued into the spring. This is a significant improvement over previous years. The fall semester course failure rate for this cohort was almost half of what it was in 2009. On average these students are taking more hours than past freshmen. Grades of first-year students in their first semester are improving, and the percent of freshmen who receive a failing grade is falling. We have significant work left to do, but we are moving the needle.
I also want to relay the remarkable success of our new free online course offerings. Nearly 39,000 people around the world have signed up to take one of UT’s nine MOOCs (massively open online courses) in the coming academic year. As part of the UT System, we are aligned with Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley in the edX consortium. This is an exciting new frontier in higher education, and we no doubt will learn much from our first year in this educational space.
Finally, I’d like to share a short video that summarizes what we’re accomplishing in our Course Transformation Program, which uses technology and teaching innovations to enrich the classroom experience. Thanks to the Texas Exes for partnering with us to create this video.
Here’s to a strong finish to our academic year, and congratulations to all those graduating this month.
Being a leading university means leading in many diverse areas. I’m delighted that Professor Dean Young of our English Department has been named the 2014 Texas Poet Laureate. Recognized nationally as one of the most influential poets writing today, he holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at UT. He’s published 12 books of poetry and one volume of prose on the aesthetics of poetry. His numerous awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Levinson Prize, the Colorado Poetry Prize, a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and his poems are regularly featured in the Best American Poetry annual series.
Below is his poem “Age of Discovery.” Congratulations, Dean. We’re proud of your designation and know you will be a great ambassador to the state.
Age of Discovery
by Dean Young
On the 182nd day of the 34th year
of my education,
I wake to a snow that seems falling faster
than snow, so blossom-heavy,
but I know that classic experiment
atop the Tower of Pisa, Galileo’s proof
how, regardless of mass, all things drop
at the same rate. What falls falls,
I’d like to write, in continuous swoon
but that is only music just as
there is only music in the old claims
of soul leaving the body in a powdery
whoosh, an unwedging at the scapulas
scattering birds from belfry and roof,
a whir like radium half-lifting.
I’ve scoffed at the man who’s spent his life
trying to photograph ghosts, the woman
who teaches how to breathe from the tips
of toes but surely there’s a plethora
of forces bound and unbinding within us.
Cheating is unacceptable, in sports or any other area of life, and tonight our campus will be the site of an important discussion of this topic as it relates to elite cycling. The annual McGarr Symposium on Sports and Society, created by UT alumni and philanthropists Cappy and Janie McGarr, will be held tonight (Monday, April 22) from 7-9 p.m., in the second-floor auditorium of the Belo Center for New Media, 300 W. Dean Keeton St.
The panel — “The Real Price of Winning at All Costs: A Discussion about Elite Cycling” — will feature three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond; Greg’s wife, Kathy; Betsy Andreu, wife of cyclist Frankie Andreu; Bill Bock, general counsel to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency; and Reed Albergotti, white-collar crimes reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Michael Cramer, director of UT’s Texas Program in Sports and Media, will moderate.
This is a great example of how alumni enrich not only the education of our students but also the life of our community as well. Thank you, Cappy and Janie, for the McGarr Symposium. The event is free and open to the public. I hope you all will attend.
This week has seen two tragedies of national scope: the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon and, much closer to home, the industrial explosion in West, the toll of which is still being assessed at this hour. As Americans, we stand with Boston in its resolve to answer evil with goodness. And we stand with our fellow Texans in West — and with students, faculty, staff, and alumni with ties to that community — as they rebuild after this tremendous loss.
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.