May 28, 2019
Dear UT Community,
As we honored America’s fallen patriots on Memorial Day, the weekend had additional significance at UT. On Saturday, we held our 136th spring commencement ceremony with more than 9,500 new graduates and their families. Michael Dell gave an inspirational commencement address to the newest Longhorn alumni.
And yesterday, the 86th Texas Legislature adjourned as it completed its regular session. Since January, state senators and representatives have worked to set a course for the future of Texas in many areas, including higher education.
In the approved state budget, UT Austin’s general revenue appropriation for the next two years will increase by about 4 percent compared with current levels. UT will receive additional funds for rebuilding the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. The growth of the Dell Medical School, which will graduate its first class of physicians a year from now, was recognized with an increase in funding. In addition, the Legislature expanded TEXAS Grants, which provide critically important financial aid for low- and middle-income students at universities throughout the state.
I’d like to thank Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen for their dedication to higher education and UT from the first days of the session. They understand the tremendous value the public flagship university brings to Texas, and I am grateful for their strong support.
It was also a privilege to work with the Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, Kevin Eltife, on legislative issues throughout the past five months. Chairman Eltife is a transformative leader committed to providing a better future for Texas students.
The Legislature also passed bills to address several key areas affecting higher education — sexual assault, free speech, hazing and the transfer of course credits between community colleges and universities. These bills make significant changes to the legal landscape in their respective areas. When signed by the Governor, UT will review our current policies, procedures and practices so that we align with the new state laws and continue to effectively serve our students and community. We will have more information for you as those reviews take place.
Austin will be a little quieter with the end of the academic year and the legislative session. But the mission of UT will continue, as it always does, thanks to your dedication and hard work. Enjoy your summer!
Gregory L. Fenves