UT takes leading role on major potential energy source, methane hydrate

I want to share with you a very important development. UT Austin recently received a research grant of $58 million to head a team studying methane hydrate, a substance found in abundance beneath the ocean floor and under Arctic permafrost. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing more than $41 million, with the remainder coming from industry and research partners. The fact that this is one of the largest research grants in the University’s history is certainly noteworthy, but the real excitement comes from the potential developments from the study itself.

Methane hydrate is an ice-like solid compound that forms in low-temperature and high-pressure environments where molecules of methane, a chief constituent of natural gas, are trapped within a lattice structure of water molecules. The worldwide energy implications are huge: within the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, where the team will be sampling, there is estimated to be 7,000 trillion cubic feet of methane hydrate, more than 250 times the amount of natural gas used in the United States in 2013. You can read more here.

I’m proud of our scientists at the Institute for Geophysics in the Jackson School of Geosciences for their leadership.

What starts here changes the world.
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New class of Distinguished Alumni honored

DAA2014

From left, Dealey Herndon, Scott Caven, Karen Nyberg, Matthew McConaughey, Jody Conradt, Earl Campbell, and John Massey. (Photo by Mark Rutkowski)

This past weekend, the Texas Exes and University of Texas honored six alumni with our highest award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and one non-alumnus with the Distinguished Service Award. I’d like to share these short descriptions of their accomplishments. You also can watch the moving videos produced for the event by clicking the links below:

Earl Christian Campbell, BS ’79, Austin
Campbell is one of the greatest running backs to ever play in the National Football League. After becoming the first Longhorn ever to win a Heisman Trophy in 1977, Campbell was the No. 1 draft pick by the Houston Oilers and went on to be named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. In 1981, the legislature named Campbell an Official State Hero of Texas. After retiring from football in 1985, he became a prominent businessman in Austin and later founded Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. He remains actively involved with UT Athletics and was a special assistant to the vice president for student affairs. In 1991, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Watch Earl Campbell’s recipient video here.

H. Scott Caven, Jr., BBA ’64, LLB ’67, Houston
Caven is managing director of Atlantic Trust, a private wealth management firm. He was a member of the UT Board of Regents from 2003-09, including service as chairman from 2007-09. During a 32-year career with Goldman Sachs, Caven was a vice president and a regional manager. A longtime UT advocate, Caven has chaired the UT System Chancellor’s Council and the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council. He is a founding member of the executive committee of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education. He has also chaired the board of directors of the University of Texas Investment Management Company and the Texas Growth Fund board of trustees. Caven is currently a member of the board of trustees for the Texas State History Museum Foundation. Watch Scott Caven’s recipient video here.

Dealey Decherd Herndon, BA ’69, Austin
Herndon was the executive director for the State Preservation Board of Texas from 1991-95, directing the restoration and extension of the Texas State Capitol. After the Texas Governor’s Mansion was nearly destroyed in a 2008 fire, Herndon returned to lead the restoration of the mansion. She is a longtime project manager and historic preservationist who owned the firm of Herndon, Stauch & Associates from 1995-2006, overseeing projects including UT’s ACES Building, the George W. Bush Childhood Home, the Caldwell County Historic Courthouse, and many more. Herndon is a member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Texas Medal of Arts Award. She served on two advisory committees and on the Brackenridge Task Force. Watch Dealey Herndon’s recipient video here.

John H. Massey, LLB ’66, Dallas
Massey is the chairman of the Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds Investment Committee and a member of the Co-Investment Partners Investment Committee. He has been a senior executive and director for many companies, including serving as president of two highly successful companies that were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Massey also served on the boards of seven other publicly held companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He and his wife, Elizabeth Shatto Massey, BS 61, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, are proud natives of Columbus, Texas. They have created endowments at the McCombs School of Business, the School of Law, and the College of Education, as well as three Texas Exes Forty Acres Scholarships. Massey is also the president of the Law School Foundation and a trustee of the University of Texas Foundation. He is a recipient of UT’s Presidential Citation and in 2012 was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. Watch John Massey’s recipient video here.

Matthew David McConaughey, BS ’93, Austin
McConaughey is an Academy Award-winning actor. He has starred in Dazed and Confused, Amistad, Contact, The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won the Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, both for Best Actor. McConaughey is the founder of the just keep livin Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices. He also partnered with Mack Brown and Jack Ingram in founding Mack, Jack, and McConaughey, a joint fundraising effort that benefits children. Watch Matthew McConaughey’s video here.

Karen L. Nyberg, MS ’96, PhD ’98, Houston
Nyberg is a NASA astronaut. She has logged more than 75 million miles and over 180 days in space, including the 123rd shuttle mission in 2008 and a five-month stint on the International Space Station in 2013. Nyberg received a patent in 1994 for a robot-friendly probe and socket assembly she designed while serving as an undergraduate intern at NASA, and her graduate research on the thermoregulation of spacesuits was published in four academic journals. She is the recipient of the Joyce Medalen Society of Women Engineers Award and the University of North Dakota Sioux Award. Watch Karen Nyberg’s recipient video here.

Distinguished Service Award

Jody Conradt, Austin
Conradt was the head coach of the University of Texas’ women’s basketball team from 1976-2007. In her 38-year coaching career, her players won 900 games, and 99 percent of them graduated. Among dozens of other accolades, she was named the National Collegiate Coach of the Year four times and was the second woman inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She helped establish UT’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program, an education outreach group that helps 5,500 disadvantaged Austin children build strong academic futures. Conradt, who also served as women’s athletics director from 1992-2001, is now a special assistant to Women’s Athletics.

I’m so proud of every one of these legendary Longhorns. What starts here changes the world.
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Academy of Distinguished Teachers welcomes new members

 

Academy of Distinguished Teachers

 (From left) Sam Gosling, President Powers, Beth Pomeroy, Doug Bruster, and Oguzhan Bayrak. Not pictured are Peter Stone and John Stanton.

On Wednesday, UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers inducted six new members. I’d like to share a little bit about each of this year’s inductees:

  • Oguzhan Bayrak is director of the Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory and holds the Charles Elmer Rowe Fellowship in Engineering. He studies behavior, analysis, and design of reinforced and pre-stressed concrete structures, bridge engineering, evaluation of structures in distress, structural repair, fiber-reinforced polymers, and earthquake engineering.
  • Douglas Bruster, the Moody C. Boatwright Regents Professor, is a Shakespeare specialist who also studies modern playwrights like David Mamet and David Hare. His books on Shakespeare and early modern drama include Drama and the Market in the Age of Shakespeare, Quoting Shakespeare, Shakespeare and the Question of Culture, Prologues to Shakespeare’s Theatre, To Be or Not To Be and Shakespeare and the Power of Performance. He taught at Harvard, the University of Chicago, and the University of Paris before coming to UT Austin.
  • Samuel Gosling is a personality/social psychologist who researches how people select and craft the environments in which they dwell to suit their personalities; personality or temperament in non-human animals; and online data-collection methods in the behavioral sciences. His research frequently appears in the national and international media.
  • Elizabeth Pomeroy is the Bert Kruger Smith Centennial Professor in Social Work and coordinator of our Clinical Social Work Concentration. Her interests include mental health, health and children and families; HIV/AIDS interventions; crime victims; interventions for offenders in the criminal justice system; and clinical social work group interventions for children, adults, and families.
  • John Stanton is our George W. Watt Centennial Professor. His research group works in the area of theoretical chemistry. He focuses on developing new theoretical methods and implementing them in computationally efficient computer programs, and applying these and other methods to the solution of interesting chemical and spectroscopic problems.
  • Peter Stone is the David Burton Jr. Centennial Professor and founder and director of the Learning Agents Research Group within the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science. His application domains have included robot soccer, autonomous bidding agents, autonomous vehicles, autonomic computing, and social agents.

Members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers are the best of the best. I’m extremely proud of these six and all of our current members.

What starts here changes the world.

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National Academy of Engineering welcomes four UT faculty

NationalEngineersNew inductees clockwise from top-left, Thomas Edgar, Greg Fenves, Yale Patt, and Bob Schutz. With them are, left, C.D.  Mote Jr., President, National Academy of Engineering, and right, Charles O. Holliday Jr., Chairman, National Academy of Engineering.

Last week, four professors from UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering traveled to Washington, D.C., for their induction into the National Academy of Engineering. UT Austin had the most new members of any university this year. The academy inducted 67 new members and 11 foreign associates. I’m especially proud that among them is our executive vice president and provost, Greg Fenves. They are:

  • Thomas Edgar, director of the Energy Institute at UT Austin and the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Engineering, who is recognized for contributions to mathematical modeling, optimization and automatic control of chemical and microelectronics processes, and for professional leadership.
  • Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of UT Austin, who is recognized for contributions to computational modeling, creation of open-source software for earthquake engineering analysis, and for academic leadership. Prior to becoming provost, Fenves served as the eighth dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
  • Yale Patt, the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Centennial Chair in Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who was elected for contributions to high-performance microprocessor architecture.
  • Bob Schutz, the Joe J. King Chair of Engineering in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, who was elected for his contribution to the use of satellite laser ranging and GPS tracking to study Earth system dynamics.

Provost Fenves and Professors Edgar, Patt, and Schutz make us all proud.

Hook ’em!

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Times Higher Education: UT Austin No. 28 in world

I’m proud to report that once again the London-based publication Times Higher Education has ranked The University of Texas at Austin among the best universities in the world. This year, UT came in at No. 28. This is the fourth consecutive year we have ranked in the top 29. Among public universities in the United States, UT Austin ranked sixth on the list. The full list of universities can be found here.

Times Higher Education examines 13 factors in five separate areas to determine excellence — teaching, research, influence of research, innovation, and international outlook. UT Austin’s highest marks were in its influence of research, as measured by the number of times faculty members’ studies are cited by peers; overall research, which includes funding, number of articles published and quality; and teaching, which is based largely on the university’s reputation among scholars.

All Texans can take great pride in the fact that UT Austin keeps company with the world’s very best universities.

 

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State of the University strong thanks to focus on mission

Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of delivering my ninth and final State of the University Address to the University of Texas community. In the address, I said:

Thirty-seven years ago I fell in love with UT. A lot went into that, but nothing more than our people. Our amazing students. Our unbelievably talented faculty. Our innovative and hard- working staff. Our astonishing alumni and friends. I know all too well what all of you have done for me! Thank you!

You may read the entire address here:

http://www.utexas.edu/president/speeches/2014/state-of-the-university

Or watch it here:

Also, you might be interested in this new infographic about the University’s accomplishments:

StateOfUniversity2014_FINAL_HR

Thank you for all you have done to make the state of the University of Texas at Austin strong.

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