2013 – One for the Record Books

Tower13

 

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

 

Proud of our national academies inductees

National Academies and Institutes Honorees

From left, President Powers with Keith Johnston, George Georgiou, Joseph Beaman Jr., Sharon Wood, John Goodenough, and Provost Steven Leslie (Photo by Brian Birzer)

 

Last night I hosted a reception honoring five UT faculty members inducted into three national academies. We should all take great pride in these inductions, as few honors embody our identity as a top research university as these do. The Tower was lighted orange in their honor.

 

National Academy of Engineering

Joseph J. Beaman Jr., the Earnest F. Gloyna Regents Chair in Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was elected for innovation, development and commercialization of solid freeform fabrication and selective laser sintering.

Sharon L. Wood, the Robert L. Parker Sr. Centennial Professor and chair in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for her design of reinforced concrete structures and associated seismic instrumentation for extreme loadings and environment.

Keith P. Johnston, chemical engineering professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers worldwide.

 

National Academy of Sciences

John Goodenough, a mechanical engineering professor who is widely credited for the scientific discovery and development of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

 

Institute of Medicine

George Georgiou, a professor whose technology developments in the engineering, medical, biochemical and cellular fields could help treat tens of thousands of patients with diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis, has been elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In addition, two new alumni members of the National Academy of Engineering were inducted:

Rex Tillerson, B.S. in civil engineering ’75, was recognized for engineering leadership in the production of hydrocarbons in remote and challenging environments. Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, has been a member of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board for the past six years and is a member of the UT Development Board.

Gregory Deierlein, Ph.D. in civil engineering ’88, is the John A. Blume Professor in the Stanford University School of Engineering. He was recognized for the development of advanced structural analysis and design techniques and their implementation in design codes.

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for the honor you bring to the University.

Bill's Signature

 

 

Honoring UT’s Inventors

To most people, the word inventor conjures up an Enlightenment figure or father of the Industrial Revolution toiling alone in his workshop or laboratory. But, of course, inventions did not just occur in the past. Our modern experience is defined by inventions that continue to bubble up at an ever-accelerating rate. No era can lay greater claim to invention than ours.

Tonight (December 6), our Office of Technology Commercialization honors two of UT’s greatest: Professor John Goodenough and Professor Adam Heller. I have invoked Dr. Goodenough’s development of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery numerous times while illustrating to audiences the synergy between teaching and discovery at a research university. Dr. Heller, who, coincidentally, is another pioneer of lithium batteries, is celebrated for his advances that have enabled millions of people with diabetes to monitor their condition painlessly. What a gift both professors have given the world.

I’d like to share a short video on these two faculty members with you.

Congratulations to professors Goodenough and Heller on their life-changing contributions to society. Tonight, 48 other faculty members who have received patents over the University’s last fiscal year also will be honored. I’m proud of all the University’s many inventors. It is never more evident than on occasions like this that what starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature