Hook ’em!

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Today is my final day as president of The University of Texas at Austin. Serving in this office for the past nine and a half years has been the highest honor of my career, and I will miss it. Words are not enough to thank you all for the Texas spirit you have shown as, together, we have moved the University forward. And the support and friendship you have shown Kim and me has changed our lives forever.

As Greg Fenves begins his service as president of this great institution tomorrow, I take comfort knowing that UT is in great hands. I am very optimistic about the future.

UT will always be a big part of my life. After some time off, I will resume teaching at the law school. And I expect to see many of you at football and volleyball games, museum exhibits, and dozens of other events in the life of this amazing place.

Thank you for all you have done for The University of Texas.

God bless you and UT. And Hook ’em Horns!
Bill Powers signature

 

 

Photo by Brian Birzer

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!

Bill Powers signature

May Updates from the Forty Acres

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As we reach the end of the 2013-14 school year, I’d like to share some good news. This weekend UT celebrates its 131st spring commencement. More than 8,686 Longhorn students are about to become graduates of The University of Texas at Austin. Of those, 5,832 will be getting their bachelor’s degrees, 1,900 their master’s degrees, and 954 their doctoral degrees. Among those graduating with bachelor’s degrees, our three most popular majors this year, in order, are psychology, economics, and finance. I’m proud of all of our new UT graduates, and I welcome their families and friends to our campus on this joyful weekend.

This spring, we have lit the Tower orange for a number of scholarly achievements. Four of our engineering faculty members were inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, the most of any university: Thomas Edgar, Yale Patt, Bob Schutz, and our provost, Greg Fenves. We also honored mathematics professor Luis Caffarelli, winner of the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research, and chemistry and chemical engineering professor Grant Willson, who won the Japan Prize for his development of a process now used to manufacture nearly all microprocessors and memory chips. And, as I mentioned last month, we broke ground on three buildings for our new Dell Medical School.

The Campaign for Texas continues to break records for philanthropy as we rapidly approach our August 31 deadline to bring the eight-year, $3 billion effort to a successful close. As of today, we have raised $2,855,986,626. That leaves $144,013,374 left to raise in 110 days. That is a lot, but I know that if we pull together, we can make history. Join us!

Finally, I’d like to recognize some of this year’s athletics successes. For the 2013-14 athletics season, six Longhorn teams captured Big 12 Conference championships: Volleyball, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Indoor Track and Field, Men’s Tennis and Men’s Golf. I also want to congratulate Kevin Durant, who last Tuesday became the first Texas Ex in history to be named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. In winning his fourth scoring title in five years, he joins only Michael Jordan, George Gervin, and Wilt Chamberlain. Hook ’em!

Kevin’s hard-won achievements are emblematic of what Longhorns do every day across society. From teaching to nursing, accounting to the arts, engineering to journalism, and in so much else, what starts here changes the world.

Here’s to another great school year.

Bill's Signature

UT leads nation in inductees to National Academy of Engineering

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Clockwise from top left: Thomas Edgar, Greg Fenves,
Bob Schutz, and Yale Patt

The National Academy of Engineering announced Thursday that four professors from UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering have been elected to its ranks. The academy inducted 67 new members and 11 foreign associates; UT Austin had the most new members of any university this year. I’m especially proud that the inductees include our executive vice president and provost, Greg Fenves. The inductees 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 are exactly the type of UT Austin faculty who change the world every day. Their research and their distinguished careers as teachers have shaped generations of engineering students and enhanced our understanding of the world.

Bill's Signature

2013 – One for the Record Books

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As 2013 draws to close, I want to thank you for the role you have played in our extraordinarily successful year at UT Austin.

It was a year marked by momentous generosity.

Michael and Susan Dell gave UT $50 million enabling the creation of the Dell Medical School. This was only the first of three times the Dells and UT would make major headlines in 2013. The second was the opening the Dell Computer Science Hall this spring, named in honor of another $10 million gift from Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The hall opened as part of the Gates Computer Science Complex, made possible by a $30 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And the third headline was the gift of the Magnum Photos Collection, one of the most valuable gifts in the history of the University, given to the Ransom Center by Michael and Susan Dell, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, and John and Amy Phelan.

We named the College of Communication for the Moody family in recognition of a $50 million gift from the Moody Foundation. And former Regent Robert Rowling and his wife, Terry, pledged $25 million for a new home for the McCombs School of Business graduate programs to be named Rowling Hall.

All of these gifts and many more contributed to a record-breaking fundraising year for 2012-13. We need one more record year to achieve our $3 billion goal for the Campaign for Texas by the end of August.

It was a year marked by tremendous achievement.

UT’s largest college got a new home in January when we opened the Liberal Arts Building. We also launched the Clements Center for History, Strategy & Statecraft. And the Blanton Museum celebrated 50 years with a wonderful exhibit composed of masterworks from alumni collections.

Our faculty continued to win national and international recognitions: The National Academy of Engineering inducted Joseph J. Beaman Jr. of Mechanical Engineering; Sharon L. Wood of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; and Keith P. Johnston of Chemical Engineering. The National Academy of Sciences elected John Goodenough of Mechanical Engineering. And the Institute of Medicine elected George Georgiou of Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. Dean Young of the English Department was appointed Texas Poet Laureate. And C. Grant Willson of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering won the Japan Prize.

Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won Big 12 championships.

And it was a year marked by passages and transitions.

This year we lost the beloved Bill Livingston, who for nearly 60 years had served the University in numerous roles including that of interim president and senior vice president.

It was a year of major transitions as we thanked giants of our UT family for their dedicated service: DeLoss Dodds, who served 32 years as men’s athletics director; Tom Staley, director of the Ransom Center for more than 25 years; Mack Brown, who led our football program for 16 years; Steve Leslie, our executive vice president and provost, who had served in that role since 2007; and Robert Dahlstrom, who had served as UT police chief since 2006.

Among those who have succeeded them — our new executive vice president and provost Greg Fenves, formerly UT’s engineering dean; new athletics director Steve Patterson; new dean of graduate studies Judith Langlois; new dean of Undergraduate Studies Brent Iverson; new director of the Ransom Center Stephen Ennis; and new UT police chief, David Carter.

I’m always proud of UT Austin as I travel and meet my peers, and I am especially so this year as I fulfill my role as chair of the Association of American Universities.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Thank you for all you have done for UT Austin this year.

Bill's Signature

 

Greg Fenves to be next UT provost

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Last week, Greg Fenves, dean of UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering, accepted my invitation to become UT’s next executive vice president and provost. His appointment is effective Oct. 1. Greg is exactly the right person for the job. He has led initiatives to improve research competitiveness, undergraduate retention and graduation rates, international and entrepreneurship programs, and fundraising for the Engineering Education and Research Center. He has the skills and experience to advance UT in many key areas.

I hired Greg to be dean of the Cockrell School in 2008, and he’s been a true leader. He came to the University from UC-Berkeley, where he served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, assistant director at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, and professor of engineering. He studied at Cornell University and UC-Berkeley. He is an expert in simulating and predicting the effects of earthquakes on human-made structures.

Greg has said his top priorities will include strengthening the connections of our undergraduate students to the knowledge-creating communities in departments and programs, increasing the number of highly ranked graduate programs at UT, recruiting and retaining world-class faculty, and building the Dell Medical School as the leader for 21st century medicine and health care delivery.

His selection resulted from a national search by a committee composed of deans, faculty members, and students and chaired by Professor Martha Hilley.

Greg will succeed current Executive Vice President and Provost Steve Leslie, who has served in that role since 2007 and has done an outstanding job. Steve has been instrumental in the creation of the Dell Medical School, greater strategic planning and budgeting of the academic programs, and developing innovative learning technologies. He will remain on our faculty as special assistant to the president working with community partners involved in the Dell Medical School.

An interim dean for the Cockrell School will be named soon.

Bill's Signature