January 16, 2019
Last month, I ended my letter to you with a call to root for Texas Football in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. It’s clear that the team heard your cheers and encouragement, whether in person or in spirit. Congratulations to Coach Herman and the team on their big win! What a wonderful way to start 2019.
With the beginning of the new year, the 86th Texas Legislature has convened at the Capitol here in Austin. The session will continue throughout the spring semester. I look forward to working with Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen and the members of the Texas Senate and Texas House of Representatives. As always, education will be a critical issue. If you live in Texas, I encourage you to be engaged during the session. Our university — along with educational institutions at every level — counts on vital state resources to fund basic operations and academic initiatives.
State general revenue appropriations enable UT to create a more vibrant Texas for all who live here. They enable our students to get a world-class education, whether it’s a senior from Abilene who wants to fast-track changes in chemical engineering or a sophomore from Texarkana who takes inspiration from a Fortune 500 CEO.
On January 1, Charles Martinez, an esteemed education scholar and prolific researcher, officially started serving as dean of the College of Education. Last week, we announced that Ann Huff Stevens, a distinguished economist who grew up in Corpus Christi, will become the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts, beginning in July. Both are extraordinary leaders who will bring vision and experience to their new roles.
In one week, we will start a new spring semester on the Forty Acres. There is so much to look forward to.
On Monday, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with our annual community march. UT students established this celebration 25 years ago to honor Dr. King’s life and legacy, and it has become a valued tradition.
In March, Austin will welcome tens of thousands of visitors for South by Southwest. UT is scheduled to have a strong presence at the festival and will host the PitchTexas startup competition for young entrepreneurs.
As the campus comes to life next week, our students, as they always do, will inspire us with their brilliance, energy and enthusiasm. I hope that you enjoyed the holidays and are ready for an outstanding 2019. I can’t wait.
Gregory L. Fenves