New study confirms huge economic impact of UT Austin


I want to share with you the results of a recently completed study that examined UT Austin’s impact on the economy of the state. The study, conducted by the firm Economic Modeling Specialists International, found that in fiscal year 2013, human capital creation, start-up and spin-off companies, operations spending, and payroll at UT Austin, together with the spending of our students and visitors, generated $8.8 billion in added income to the Texas economy.

This constitutes a 15-to-1 return on investment by the state, and is the equivalent in economic activity of creating 133,000 jobs every year.

Perhaps the most striking number in the report is the long-term economic impact. UT’s enrolled students in 2013 (the year studied) will generate an estimated $23.5 billion for the state’s economy over the course of their careers. And Texas communities will realize $2.8 billion in savings related to reduced crime, lower unemployment, and increased health and well being across the state due to benefits associated with UT Austin.

We know from many anecdotes how important the state’s flagship university is to the Texas economy. These numbers corroborate those stories. A summary of the report can be viewed here. The full, 67-page report can be viewed here.

What starts here changes the world.

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Texas Ex Jordan Spieth wins Masters


Last night, we lit the Tower orange for Texas Ex Jordan Spieth, who won the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, finishing 18-under-par. Jordan helped lead the Longhorns to the 2012 National Championship. At 21, he became the youngest to win the Masters since Tiger Woods in 1997.

It was Jordan’s third win on the PGA Tour and fifth win worldwide. He is now ranked No. 2 in the world. Jordan’s win was the first by a former Texas player in a major championship since Justin Leonard won the British Open in 1997. He is the second Texas Ex to win the Masters, joining Ben Crenshaw, who won in 1984 and 1995. And Jordan is now the fifth former Texas player to win a major championship, joining Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard, and Mark Brooks.

Congratulations, Jordan, and Hook ’em Horns!

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Photo UT Athletics

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


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


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


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

Rieff, Susan 2011

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