May 25, 2018
Last Saturday night, we held the university’s 135th commencement ceremony for the Class of 2018. It was a beautiful evening. Our graduating students filled the Main Mall, donning their caps and gowns. Friends, family members and parents watched and proudly cheered on their loved ones. It was a celebration of our graduates’ years of study and learning on the Forty Acres — the completion of one journey and the beginning of a new one.
Graduating Student Government president Alejandrina Guzman delivered a powerful speech about overcoming adversity and finding community at UT. Commencement speaker Vice Adm. Raquel Bono discussed how earning her UT degree prepared her for her career as a U.S. Naval officer and medical doctor. And the ceremony ended with a spectacular fireworks display surrounding the Tower.
Commencement represented our graduates’ final moments as UT students, but as you know, their relationship with our great university will carry on for decades to come. They are Texas Exes now. They have joined your ranks. And so, this is the first message to Longhorn Nation that some members of the Class of 2018 will be receiving. And to those recent graduates, I say: welcome to Longhorn Nation — it will be with you for life.
For many other students at UT, the path toward earning a degree continues, and we are working hard to support them.
This fall, we will introduce the Texas Advance Commitment, which ensures that new Texas students with family incomes of up to $100,000 (Adjusted Gross Income), who have financial need, will receive guaranteed aid. Eligible students with family incomes up to $30,000 will receive, at a minimum, enough aid to completely cover the full tuition costs.
This program will benefit nearly 3,000 additional UT students per year, and it builds upon years of investment in student aid by the university, the State of Texas and our generous donors and supporters. The goal is to increase accessibility and affordability for the students and families in Texas who need it most.
With summer arriving in Austin, Longhorns will be engaged in all kinds of interesting pursuits. Some students will have internships. Others will be doing research and coursework abroad. Some will take summer classes here in Austin and others will attend orientation and visit our campus for the first time. It’s defined as a summer break, but for students, it won’t be a time for idleness. It’ll be a time for further discovery and experience.
I hope to see you on campus in the coming months. You are always welcome. Your continued connection with your university is so deeply valued.
Gregory L. Fenves