Friday, January 31, 1:30 p.m.
UT Austin — Admissions Welcome Center
This is the speech President Fenves gave to announce a transformative student-focused partnership between the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and UT:
Good afternoon and welcome to The University of Texas. My name is Greg Fenves and I’m the President of UT.
It was less than a year ago that Michael Dell took the stage under the UT Tower … in front of thousands of Longhorns on our Main Mall, to address the Class of 2019. He gave a riveting commencement speech and closed with some lines that were profound to me.
“Many people never realize what they’re capable of because they’re afraid to make mistakes … Many people don’t stand up for what’s right because they’re afraid to be wrong … But that’s not how changing the world works.”
Then Michael went on to make clear that the world is changed by those who are ambitious and bold … and unafraid to do something visionary … and unprecedented … just as he has with Dell Technologies and just as he and Susan have … with their extraordinary foundation.
And for years now, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and The University of Texas have been changing the world … together.
I’ll give you just one example … seven years ago, the Dell Foundation announced a $50 million gift for our new medical school … and today the Dell Medical School is thriving and serving our community at the highest level. It is also only a few months away from graduating its first class of doctors …
By working together … we made that happen. And today … seven years later … we’re doing it again.
I’m thrilled to announce a new partnership between the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and The University of Texas at Austin … that will reinforce our commitment to students and families … by providing personally tailored support services to thousands of UT Austin students … along with life-changing scholarships for those with the most financial need.
This is a really big deal!
Our partnership will be modeled on the highly successful Dell Scholars program, which has served 5,000 students nationwide who receive federal Pell Grants … and helped them achieve astonishing graduation rates that are four times the national average. And I want to note that there is a group of Dell scholars sitting in the front row right now … and we’re honored to have them here with us for this big announcement.
With this partnership, we’ll be scaling up the Dell Scholars approach at UT, and it will build on the historic Texas Advance Commitment, which was expanded by the UT System Board of Regents last summer … to provide assured financial aid for middle- and low-income Texas students.
And I just want to emphasize how critical the Board of Regents’ support has been. The financial aid that they have funded at UT is transformative for students and families in Texas. And this partnership with the Dell Foundation wouldn’t have been possible without the extraordinary investment they have made. So, before we go any further, I want to thank Chairman Kevin Eltife, Regent Jodie Jiles ... who’s here with us today ... and the entire UT System Board of Regents.
For this new partnership, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation has pledged a remarkable … $100 million over the next 10 years. $100 million … incredible.
These funds will be used to create a personalized support system for UT students … that will include advising, mentorship, financial aid counseling, and customized tutoring, along with other support like a laptop and textbooks.
In fall 2020, all incoming freshmen at UT who receive Pell Grants will benefit from these personalized support services. As the program ramps up … after four years … an estimated 8,000 UT students per year will be served — which is about 20 percent of the undergraduate student body. 8,000 students … think of that …
In addition, the Dell Foundation commitment will allow us to provide $20,000 Dell scholarships … for qualified Pell Grant students with the highest level of financial need.
Overall, this program will help more Pell Grant students graduate and earn life-changing degrees at UT than ever before. It’s about providing meaningful support so that we can unlock the incredible potential held within all UT students.
So, I just want to say … to Michael, Susan, and everyone at the Dell Foundation … thank you for making this bold commitment to improving the lives of thousands of UT students … thousands of students who will one day … change the world. Thank you!
Now, in just a few minutes, we will welcome Michael and Susan to the stage.
And I’d like to note that while it’s Michael who we often see publicly … Susan … with her huge heart … is behind every one of these students. I’ve heard her share words of encouragement with UT Dell scholars and seen the pride she has in all they’ve accomplished. Susan and Michael … working together … make for a perfect team.
And they will soon be speaking with UT graduate and Dell scholar … ReinaOlivas … about her experiences in the program and the challenges she overcame as a student.
It’s going to be a great discussion … one that will highlight the extraordinary impact of the Dell Scholars program at UT … and what we can expect from our new partnership in the years ahead.
But first, let’s give a warm welcome to the Executive Director of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation … she’s a UT alumna and the proud parent of two current UT students …
Ladies and gentlemen … Janet Mountain.