December 4, 2018
Dear UT Community,
Tomorrow, people across the nation will come together to celebrate the life of the 41st President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. His recent passing has been felt in every corner of our country, but nowhere more acutely than in our state, his home — Texas.
President Bush was the very definition of a public servant. He loved this country and devoted his life to upholding its ideals and values at the very highest level. But his legacy transcends the loftiness of his titles and the gravity of his accomplishments. His grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, said it best: “He was more than a great man; he was a good man.”
President Bush led with the clarity of his convictions and he never lost the spirit of sacrifice that carried him across oceans as a teenager to fight for freedom in World War II. He moved to Texas after the war and laid deep roots here. He loved this state and reflected its spirit in his strong, principled leadership. Fittingly, many of his children and family members earned degrees at UT, including his son Jeb, his daughter-in-law Laura and his grandchildren, Jenna and George P.
To honor President Bush, Governor Greg Abbott has declared Wednesday, Dec. 5 an official Day of Mourning. The University of Texas at Austin will remain open for classes Wednesday, performing its essential function for students during the end of the fall semester.
There will be several opportunities tomorrow and throughout the remainder of the year for students, faculty members and staff members to celebrate President Bush on campus:
- Wednesday, 10 a.m. — Moment of silence will follow the hourly Tower bell chime in honor of President Bush. Afterward, a special concert will be performed on the Carillon.
- Wednesday evening — UT Tower will be darkened with only the number 41 lighted in its windows.
- The Briscoe Center for American History is displaying images from the archive of President Bush’s official White House Photographer, David Valdez.
In 1990, President Bush delivered the commencement address at our university. He spoke passionately about freedom, liberty and what he called “the personal side of democracy.” And he ended with a call to action directed at our graduates: “Whatever you do, live a life of adventure and meaning so brilliant that, like a Roman candle, it lights up the world. Dazzle us. Astonish us. Be extraordinary.”
Fitting advice from a man who was just that — extraordinary.
Gregory L. Fenves