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

Tower glows orange for prize-winning faculty

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Grant Willson and Luis Caffarelli

Last night, the Tower glowed orange in honor of Dr. Grant Willson, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering and winner of the prestigious Japan Prize. He won the prize for his development of a process now used to manufacture nearly all of the microprocessors and memory chips in the world. Grant joined the faculties of the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at UT Austin in 1993. His previous honors include the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Tonight, we light the Tower again, this time for Dr. Luis Caffarelli, professor of mathematics and winner of the 2014 American Mathematical Society Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research. Caffarelli, a native Argentinian, joined our faculty in 1997. His previous prizes include the Wolf Prize, the Bôcher Memorial Prize, and the Rolf Schock Prize. This is his second Steele Prize; in 2009 he won the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

I know you share my immense pride in Grant, Luis, and our entire faculty, both for the world-class education they give our students and the honor they bring to The University of Texas through achievements like these.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

Willson wins Japan Prize, Bard and Goodenough win National Medal of Science

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Grant Willson, Allen Bard, and John Goodenough

 

Recently, three of our faculty members have been honored with top prizes in science.

C. Grant Willson, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, has won the Japan Prize, an international award similar to the Nobel Prize, for his development of a process that is now used to manufacture nearly all microprocessors and memory chips. He will share the 50 million yen prize (approximately $560,000) with his colleague Jean M.J. Fréchet. The Japan Prize Presentation Ceremony and Banquet, with the emperor of Japan in attendance, will take place in April.

Also this month, the White House announced that UT’s Allen Bard, chemistry professor and director of the Center for Electrochemistry, and engineering professor John Goodenough will receive the 2012 National Medal of Science. The honor is administered by the National Science Foundation and recognizes American scientists, engineers, and inventors. Bard and Goodenough will join 10 other scientists in a ceremony later this year. Only UT and Stanford contributed more than one faculty member to this year’s group of honorees.

In his 55 years teaching at UT Dr. Bard has trained generations of scientists and has pioneered scanning electron microscopy. Dr. Goodenough is widely credited with the development of the lithium-ion battery, critical to so many of the electronics embedded in our way of life.

Willson, Bard, and Goodenough are giants in their respective fields and have brought quality and prestige to a UT education. I’ve said many times that it’s our faculty that sets us apart, and I couldn’t be prouder of these three examples.

Hook ’em,

Bill's Signature