Archive For Student, Faculty & Staff
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.
Today begins the next chapter in one of the great stories in all of college sports — the story of Texas Longhorn football. It’s my pleasure to introduce to the Longhorn family our next football head coach, Charlie Strong.
Coach Strong is exactly the right pick for The University of Texas, and I want to thank our men’s athletics director, Steve Patterson, and the search committee for their superb work.
From the outset, we knew the University’s new football coach had to have the two qualities all of our coaches have: he had to be a winner, and he had to win with integrity. This is our standard because of the work of numerous coaches over the decades but no coach more so than Mack Brown.
There’s no question Coach Strong is a winner, having transformed Louisville’s football team into champions and being honored twice as coach of the year during his four years there. But more important, he elevated that football program while increasing graduation rates and developing a culture rooted in academic success. Coach Strong has said, “When you talk about a player’s future, it all starts in the classroom.” A lot of coaches can win, but that philosophy is why we asked him to come to Texas.
He’s the right person to represent Texas on the field, on campus, in the community, and in the living rooms of potential recruits across the nation. He’s the right person to carry on the Texas tradition of winning with integrity that was cultivated by giants like Darrell Royal and Mack Brown.
Finally — to Charlie and his beautiful family, including his wife, Vicki, and daughters Hailee and Hope, I say welcome to Austin and welcome to the Longhorn family.
Here’s a quick look at Coach Strong’s career so far: http://youtu.be/hB1EKrYgsOI
And you can watch this morning’s introductory press conference at: http://youtu.be/L6V6RRrulig.
Hook ’em Horns!
Tomorrow, the Longhorns take on the Oregon Ducks in the Alamo Bowl. I know you’ll join me in wishing them the best of luck. Come early, be loud, and wherever you are and whatever you’re doing Monday, let’s show Coach Brown and the Horns we’re behind them by wearing burnt orange.
If you can’t make it to San Antonio, you can watch the action on ESPN at 5:45 p.m. CST.
And to the whole Longhorn family, have a safe and happy New Year.
As 2013 draws to close, I want to thank you for the role you have played in our extraordinarily successful year at UT Austin.
It was a year marked by momentous generosity.
Michael and Susan Dell gave UT $50 million enabling the creation of the Dell Medical School. This was only the first of three times the Dells and UT would make major headlines in 2013. The second was the opening the Dell Computer Science Hall this spring, named in honor of another $10 million gift from Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The hall opened as part of the Gates Computer Science Complex, made possible by a $30 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And the third headline was the gift of the Magnum Photos Collection, one of the most valuable gifts in the history of the University, given to the Ransom Center by Michael and Susan Dell, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, and John and Amy Phelan.
We named the College of Communication for the Moody family in recognition of a $50 million gift from the Moody Foundation. And 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.
All of these gifts and many more contributed to a record-breaking fundraising year for 2012-13. We need one more record year to achieve our $3 billion goal for the Campaign for Texas by the end of August.
It was a year marked by tremendous achievement.
UT’s largest college got a new home in January when we opened the Liberal Arts Building. We also launched the Clements Center for History, Strategy & Statecraft. And the Blanton Museum celebrated 50 years with a wonderful exhibit composed of masterworks from alumni collections.
Our faculty continued to win national and international recognitions: The National Academy of Engineering inducted Joseph J. Beaman Jr. of Mechanical Engineering; Sharon L. Wood of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; and Keith P. Johnston of Chemical Engineering. The National Academy of Sciences elected John Goodenough of Mechanical Engineering. And the Institute of Medicine elected George Georgiou of Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. Dean Young of the English Department was appointed Texas Poet Laureate. And C. Grant Willson of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering won the Japan Prize.
Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won Big 12 championships.
And it was a year marked by passages and transitions.
This year we lost the beloved Bill Livingston, who for nearly 60 years had served the University in numerous roles including that of interim president and senior vice president.
It was a year of major transitions as we thanked giants of our UT family for their dedicated service: DeLoss Dodds, who served 32 years as men’s athletics director; Tom Staley, director of the Ransom Center for more than 25 years; Mack Brown, who led our football program for 16 years; Steve Leslie, our executive vice president and provost, who had served in that role since 2007; and Robert Dahlstrom, who had served as UT police chief since 2006.
Among those who have succeeded them — our new executive vice president and provost Greg Fenves, formerly UT’s engineering dean; new athletics director Steve Patterson; new dean of graduate studies Judith Langlois; new dean of Undergraduate Studies Brent Iverson; new director of the Ransom Center Stephen Ennis; and new UT police chief, David Carter.
I’m always proud of UT Austin as I travel and meet my peers, and I am especially so this year as I fulfill my role as chair of the Association of American Universities.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Thank you for all you have done for UT Austin this year.
The next time you’re driving west of San Antonio, I encourage you to stop and visit a little-known UT treasure, the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Uvalde. It was the home of John Nance Garner, who served as President Franklin Roosevelt’s first vice president, from 1933 to 1941. UT’s Briscoe Center for American History recently produced the documentary Cactus Jack, which premiered in Uvalde on Dec. 10, the same night the museum reopened after major renovations.
The Briscoe Center is doing tremendous work to preserve American history and foster interest in the enormous role Texas has played in that history. I congratulate Director Don Carleton for these latest twin successes.
What Starts Here Changes the World.
Kiplinger’s ranks the top 100 four-year schools that combine outstanding education with economic value. The journal factors in admission rates, percentage of students who return for their sophomore year, student-faculty ratio, and four-year graduation rate. The rankings also examine tuition and fees, financial aid offerings, and average student debt at graduation.
A university is only a good value if it provides a high-quality education. UT Austin currently ranks 27th in the world according to Times Higher Education and 26th in the world according to the Center for World University Rankings. We should take great pride in these assessments.
On Saturday, 3,244 students will enter the next phase of their Longhorn careers, graduating and so becoming Texas Exes. I welcome the families of our new graduates to the Forty Acres, and I celebrate with them this momentous event in the lives of their children, brothers and sisters, spouses, and in some cases, parents.
New graduates, I look forward to seeing what you do with the education you received here. At UT Austin we say “What starts here changes the world,” and we mean it. The Eyes of Texas — and of the world — are upon you, so make the most of your lives. Stay in touch with your classmates, your professors, your deans, and with me, and come back often to visit your alma mater.
Congratulations to all of our graduates and to all of their loved ones who have helped them reach this point. And Hook ’em Horns!
Several years ago, I helped establish a network of more than 20 leading public research universities and partner organizations including the Association of American Universities, the Forum for the Future of Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Lumina Foundation to share ideas, best practices, and discuss policy solutions to common institutional challenges. The leaders of these great institutions recognize that we can accomplish more together than we can alone. This partnership creates discussion and new collaborations across the institutions.
Today the UT Austin campus welcomes representatives from several Public Flagships Network partners including the AAU, the APLU, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Kansas, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, and University of Pittsburgh. Together we’ll discuss how best to inform current higher education policy discussions to create more opportunities for educational innovation and how better to define and communicate the value of America’s great public research universities.
I’m proud that this group is strong and growing, and I welcome these members to the Forty Acres.
What starts here changes the world.
Before we break for Thanksgiving, I want to tell everyone in the Longhorn family – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends – how thankful I am for you. Because of your combined efforts and your dedication, Texas has a vibrant university of the first class, and that is something for which all Texans can give thanks.
There’s no more appropriate time than Thanksgiving to share this short video with you. In it, UT students express their feelings on “Thanks Day,” which this year fell on November 13 and which marks the day on which our students’ education would end for the school year if we had to depend solely on tuition and state funding. It’s heartwarming.
Lastly, let’s get our Horns up high for a big Thanksgiving night win against Texas Tech and show the Longhorns we’re behind them all the way.
Happy Thanksgiving and Hook ’em Horns!
On Thursday night, we launched a great new UT institution — the Clements Center for History, Strategy & Statecraft. At an inaugural gala, friends of UT and friends and family of our late governor, Bill Clements, for whom the center is named, gathered on campus to celebrate the opening.
George Seay, chairman of the Clements Center Board of Advisors, grandson of Governor Clements, and lead donor for the center’s creation; William Inboden, the center’s executive director; and I welcomed special guest Robert Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA director, who spoke to the group about his life in national security. It was a great event and an auspicious start for this new center of scholarship and teaching.
I thank all those who attended and especially the Seay family for its leadership in this exciting new endeavor. In recognition of the birth of the Clements Center, the Tower was lighted orange.
What starts here changes the world.
Photos by Brian Birzer