40 Hours for the Forty Acres raises more than 250% of goal

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Gage Paine, vice president for student affairs, joins student organizations in raising money and awareness on the Main Mall during a special student event Thursday.

 

On Wednesday, the University launched its Second Annual 40 Hours for the Forty Acres campaign to engage our alumni, students, and friends in giving back. Our goal was to raise $140,000. At the end of the 40 hours, more than 2,000 of you had given more than $367,690 to deserving programs all across our campus.

Your gifts are making a difference. You’re providing high-tech simulation equipment at the School of Nursing and undergraduate scholarships at the Cockrell School of Engineering. You’re helping to renovate RecSports’ beloved Whitaker Fields and providing funds for Student Emergency Services and International Student and Scholar Services. More than 40 student organizations also participated, and you showed them how much you believe in their efforts by donating to the Communication Council, Voices Against Violence, Texas Rock Climbing, and many others.

I’m heartened by the support you continue to show for UT, and I’m especially proud of those students who made their first gift. Once again you have risen to the challenge and more than doubled the goal. Thank you for your generosity.

Hook ’em!

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Shaka Smart perfect fit for UT basketball

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I want to officially welcome Shaka Smart to the University of Texas family. As the new head coach of our men’s basketball team, Coach Smart is off to a great start, building rapport with the team and reaching out to former players for support and guidance.

Shaka Smart, 37, was born and raised in Wisconsin and attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he graduated magnum cum laude with a degree in history. He began his coaching career in 1999 at California University of Pennsylvania. There, he also earned a master’s degree in social science. He also has been assistant coach at Akron, Clemson, and Florida. For the last six years, he has been head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he won at least 26 games each season and took the team to the final four in 2011. His wife, Maya, is a writer and alumna of Harvard and Northwestern, and they have a three-year-old daughter. I know you will give a warm Texas welcome to Shaka and Maya.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Coach Rick Barnes for his 17 years of service to The University of Texas. Rick led our program with integrity and much success, and for that, we thank him and wish him all the best at the University of Tennessee.

Hook ’em Horns!

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Men’s Swimming wins 11th National Championship

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Horns are up this week for our men’s swim team, which this past weekend won its 11th national championship, all 11 occurring under legendary Head Coach Eddie Reese. The Longhorns led the meet from start to finish and claimed the team title with 528 points to UC-Berkeley’s 399 points and Michigan’s 312 points.

With this championship, Eddie Reese ties former Ohio State coach Mike Peppe for No. 1 all-time. Saturday’s win marks UT’s first team championship since our volleyball team claimed the national championship in 2012. UT now has 48 all-time NCAA team championships and 51 overall national team titles throughout school history.

To our swimmers and to Coach Reese and his staff, thank you for your hard work and congratulations on your victory.

Hook ’em Horns!
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Photo courtesy UT Athletics

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center director joining UT architecture faculty

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One positive development early in my tenure as president was UT Austin’s acquisition of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. With the support and guidance of the Johnson Family, we were able to take a national treasure and give it both a stable future and a heightened focus on research and teaching.

The key person in this transition and in the center’s development over the past 10 years has been Executive Director Susan Rieff, who is departing the center on March 31. Happily, Susan is remaining in the UT family and joining our School of Architecture as a senior research fellow in the Center for Sustainable Development.

I want to thank Susan for all she has done to make the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center a jewel in the University’s crown. A national search for her successor will be underway soon.

What starts here changes the world.

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Photo by Marsha Miller/UT Austin

 

Breaking ground for the Engineering Education and Research Center

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With, from left, Chancellor Bill McRaven, Student Engineering Council President Anuj Kudva, and Engineering Dean Sharon Wood

Yesterday, I was honored to help break ground for our Engineering Education and Research Center. For many years this major new facility has been the dream of our engineering alumni, industry leaders throughout the state, and three successive deans: Ben Streetman, Greg Fenves, and Sharon Wood. Now it is becoming a reality.

Slated to open in 2017, the EERC will enhance our culture of innovation and transform engineering education with cross-disciplinary teaching and research. It will include:

• 430,000 square feet of open and flexible space for interactive learning and hands-on student projects
• 21st-century teaching and research labs for creating new technologies and solving real-world problems
• State-of-the-art engineering library and cafe, where students will study, collaborate and socialize
• A central location for all engineering student services, such as student life, advising and career assistance
• A new home for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Cockrell School’s largest department

My heartfelt thanks goes to the many donors and leaders who have brought us to this point. The EERC will allow our Cockrell School of Engineering to soar to even greater heights, and that will be good for all of Texas. This remarkable video offers a preview:

What starts here changes the world.
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Three UT executives stepping aside

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From left, Kevin Hegarty, Tom Gilligan, and Robert Hutchings

 

In recent days, three UT Austin executives have announced they are stepping down from their posts.

Kevin Hegarty, who has served as vice president and chief financial officer for 14 years, will become executive vice president and chief financial officer at the University of Michigan. His last day on campus will be Feb. 26, and he will begin at Michigan on April 6. Kevin has been a visionary leader, a champion of efficiency and effectiveness in our administration, and a stalwart member of my team. Mary Knight, our associate vice president for finance, will serve as interim vice president until his replacement is named.

Tom Gilligan, who has served as dean of the McCombs School of Business since 2008, will be leaving at the end of August for Stanford University to become director of the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution, and Peace. Tom has led the McCombs School to new heights, attracting top faculty and students and fostering research that is central to UT’s intellectual climate. He also has built and expanded multiple programs that support industry while challenging students and preparing them to be leaders. Rowling Hall, now under construction, will stand as Tom’s most visible legacy.

And Ambassador Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs since 2010, will step down when his current term concludes at the end of August. After taking some time off to write, Bob will return to the LBJ faculty to teach, advise, and mentor. Among his many accomplishments he has been responsible for key faculty hires and the creation of a dual degree program with the law school and an executive master’s in public leadership.

All three of these leaders have my profound thanks for their service to the University and my very best wishes for the next chapters of their distinguished careers.

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