August 26, 2019
This past weekend, I took part in one of my favorite UT traditions — Mooov-in — where thousands of students get settled on the Forty Acres for the first time. It started Friday morning at UFCU Disch-Falk Field where parents, family members and friends joined new Longhorns for check-in. It was a joy to see the excitement on students’ faces. I took a few photos and swiped some ID cards. But the real work was done by hundreds of UT students, faculty members and staff members who helped the newest Longhorns. It was an expression of our community — united, supportive and energized.
During the past few months, the UT System Board of Regents provided incredible investment in the flagship university. In a historic decision in July, the Regents made a one-time distribution of the Permanent University Fund to create a $160 million endowment for financial aid to middle- and low-income students as part of the university’s Texas Advance Commitment. This will expand assured financial assistance for Texas students from families earning up to $125,000 per year, who have demonstrated financial need.
During the August Board meeting, the Regents approved a budget that included an increased allocation of Available University Fund to bolster UT Austin’s high-quality education for students and the recruitment of top faculty members. With the vision and guidance of Chairman Kevin Eltife, the Regents have tirelessly supported students while reducing bureaucracy as part of the budgeting and planning process. I am grateful for his leadership.
The Board also approved the renovation and expansion of classes and labs, including a robotics center where faculty members and students will partner with the U.S. Army Futures Command.
Further, the Board voted to rename the Student Activity Center for former UT President Bill Powers, who passed away in March. Bill was first and foremost a teacher. For over 40 years, he devoted his career to UT students, and as president, he opened the SAC in 2011. I can think of no better tribute to him than for generations of students to pass through the halls of the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center. And on a personal note, Bill recruited me to UT 11 years ago, and it was an honor to present this request to the Board of Regents and see it approved with such enthusiasm.
This summer was very busy — hundreds of Texas high school teachers gathered in Austin as part of our OnRamps dual-enrollment program. I met with these teachers from across the state to thank them for their work in preparing students for college. Last month, a UT delegation traveled to the U.K. and France to meet with Texas Exes and students studying abroad. And I welcomed the first class in our new master’s program in Health Care Transformation — a partnership between the Dell Medical School and the McCombs School of Business — that includes health professionals, business leaders and Dell Med students.
This week, the Forty Acres will be back in full swing as more than 50,000 students prepare for the beginning of the fall semester. And the first Texas football game will be played on Saturday night under the lights at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns will take on Louisiana Tech, and I can’t wait to see the team in action. I hope you’ll come join us at the game or later in the season.
This is your campus and you’re always welcome here. This is home.
Gregory L. Fenves