Longhorn Network providing opportunities for students

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One little-known benefit of the Longhorn Network to the University is the opportunity for our students to work as interns at the network. The recent success of many interns suggests we have tapped into a valuable feeder system for the ESPN family of networks.

Since the ESPN-run network launched, the experience gained at LHN has helped eight students get entry-level positions inside the ESPN family. Ten others have gone on to secure full-time positions in video production, marketing, sports journalism, and business operations at companies such as NBC, the Texas Rangers, and Yeti.

I’m proud of the Longhorn Network and all it has brought to the University, from its great sports and academic programming to its financial support for numerous faculty chairs. And we’re just getting started.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature

AT&T picks up Longhorn Network

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Today, AT&T announced that it will carry the Longhorn Network.

I’m thrilled that the Longhorn Network is now more widely available to the UT family. The high-quality programs – showcasing both athletics and the life of the greater university – will give fans and the general public an exciting new window on UT. AT&T has been a long-standing friend of the University in many ways, and we’re delighted that they will be joining our distribution network. Over the past year, we kept our focus on the long term and trusted our great partners at ESPN. Now we can begin to realize the full potential of this powerful new communication channel.

I also want to thank all the providers who have been carrying the Longhorn Network throughout the past year, including Verizon FiOS TV, Grande Communications, Consolidated Communications, En-Touch Systems, E-Tex Communications, Bay City Cablevision, Mid-Coast Cablevision, and Texas Mid-Gulf Cablevision.

While we realize this won’t help all fans immediately, it is a big breakthrough that will encourage other major distributors to carry the network.

Finally, let’s wish the Horns a great season opener against Wyoming tomorrow night.

Hook ’em Horns!

Longhorn Network viewable online this weekend

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The Longhorn Network is making its programming available online November 11-13 at LonghornNetwork.com. This is an opportunity for UT alumni and fans without access to the Longhorn Network to watch the season-opening men’s and women’s basketball games and other programs.

The Longhorn Network is now available in four million homes nationwide. But please know that I share the frustration of alumni and fans still waiting on the network to be carried by their distributors. These negotiations are complex, and our partners are doing everything possible to expand distribution.

With the launch of the men’s and women’s basketball seasons — and coverage around this weekend’s football game against Missouri — this will be a good opportunity for millions of Longhorn fans to sample the network firsthand. I especially recommend Game Changers at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The premiere episode of this series features Professor John Daly speaking about the power of advocacy and selling your ideas. I was in the audience for this taping, and I think you’ll be as impressed as I was.

Free online coverage begins at 8 a.m. on Friday, November 11, and ends Sunday, November 13, at midnight.

Highlights include:

FRIDAY

  • Game Plan with Mack Brown 12 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
  • Women’s Basketball: Texas GameDay 6:30 p.m.
  • Women’s Basketball:  #5 Stanford vs. #20 Texas 7 p.m.
  • Longhorn Extra 10 p.m.

SATURDAY

  • Texas GameDay 9-11 a.m.
  • Exclusive Longhorn Network Halftime Show during Texas vs. Missouri
  • Texas GameDay Final immediately following Texas vs. Missouri
  • Volleyball: Kansas St. vs #8 Texas 4 p.m.

SUNDAY

  • GameChangers with Prof. John Daly 2:30 p.m.
  • Longhorn Legends: Texas Basketball Roundtable (with Kevin Durant, T.J. Ford, LaMarcus Aldridge, Chris Mihm, D.J. Augustin, and Coach Rick Barnes)  5:30 p.m.
  • Men’s Basketball: Boston University vs. Texas 6 p.m.

All times are Central. Video preview: http://youtu.be/n51vRIZ_doM

Thank you for your patience, and thank you for supporting The University of Texas at Austin.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature

Not Your Standard “Lighting the Tower Orange”

Rubiks'ing the UT tower. #3dprojectionmapping on Twitpic

If you live in Austin, you might have noticed that the Tower looked a little different Wednesday night. With the help of our long-time marketing partner GSD&M, we turned the Tower in to a spinning, pulsating Rubik’s cube of alumni portraits. The cutting-edge projection on the Tower’s south and east sides was for a new series of promotional spots that will air with the launch of the new Longhorn Network at the end of the month. I’ve posted some cell phone video on my Facebook page to give you the idea. It was breathtaking to watch live, and the end result is going to be even better:

http://www.facebook.com/WilliamPowersJr

I also want to mention that I’m encouraged by the recent creation of WGU Texas, the subsidiary of Western Governors University that offers flexible and affordable educational opportunities. I congratulate Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, and Rep. Dan Branch for their efforts to increase educational choices for Texans.

WGU will offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, information technology, education, and health professions. It primarily serves working adults and offers college coursework for about $5,800 per year.

UT Austin’s goal is to become the best public research university in the nation. But in order to meet the educational needs of all Texans, the state needs a wide a variety of institutions, and this is a very desirable step forward.

Bill's Signature

Longhorn Network Begins Broadcasting on August 26

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The Longhorn Network will launch on August 26. You may have seen ads for the network narrated by UT alumnus and actor Matthew McConaughey during the NBA finals. Several programs have already been announced, with details about much more programming still to come.

While athletics will be its mainstay, I’m also excited that the Longhorn Network will feature non-sports programming. This will include University news on “Longhorn Extra” and daily short features on research, alumni, faculty, and students. We’ll also be broadcasting films and documentaries by students, faculty, and alumni. Other programming will include live music performances on the campus, top faculty members speaking on provocative topics, and major events such as commencement and my annual State of the University Address.

The Longhorn Network provides financial support for important academic initiatives. I have committed funding from the first year’s network royalties to endow new faculty chairs in Art and Art History, Communication, Philosophy, and Physics. All in all, the Longhorn Network will provide about $5 million per year in support of academics.

For more information about where and how to get the Longhorn Network in time for its August 26 launch visit GetLonghornNetwork.com.

I’m looking forward to seeing network coverage of our faculty, students, alumni, campus events, and all Longhorn team sports.

Hook ’em!

Bill's Signature

A New Era of Collaborative Innovation in Public Higher Education

I wanted to share this message, which I sent to our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends yesterday:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Recently I attended a meeting of the Association of American Universities in Washington, where I invited the presidents of six prominent public universities to discuss the future of higher education in America. In addition, with help from the Lumina Foundation, I’ve been meeting regularly with presidents of several community colleges and four-year colleges in Texas to explore ways we can help improve the success of all our students. There is a great deal of discussion regarding budget reductions, but a more fundamental conversation about higher education is taking place across the nation. This is the first in a series of communications about these issues.

Our social landscape is shifting in fundamental ways. Families are recovering from a deep recession. Using the Internet, smart phones, and other technologies to learn and communicate is second nature to today’s students. Current demographic and social trends are greatly expanding the number of people who seek higher education. State appropriations, once a primary source of funding, now make up a small fraction of public university budgets (about 14 percent at UT Austin). Far more than merely being a training ground for future employees, universities must be partners in innovation for the private sector, entrepreneurial communities, and other educational institutions. Society’s tectonic plates are shifting, and universities must adapt.

From energy to medicine to the space program, Texas and its universities have long been fertile ground for innovation. This innovation must extend to public higher education, and our University is ideally positioned to lead this effort.

In my five years as president, I have worked with colleagues to strengthen undergraduate teaching, to advance research and problem-solving by our faculty, to foster deeper relationships with our alumni and leading corporations, to improve institutional productivity, and to make UT Austin accessible to a cross-section of Texans and exceptional students from across the United States and around the world.

When I was dean of the Law School, I worked with the Commission of 125, a group of about 200 citizen leaders from all walks of life who studied UT in 2002-04 and made recommendations to shape its future. It became clear to everyone engaged in the Commission’s work that the traditional model for public higher education had to change. Indeed, the overarching theme of my State of the University Address last year was the need to increase our productivity and effectiveness in an environment of diminished resources. But while we introduce change-as one of the world’s great research universities-we must be steadfast in our commitment to teaching and research.

With UT’s large student body and influential alumni network, acclaimed faculty, and powerful research enterprise-combined with its depth and diversity of programs and overall excellence-no university is better positioned to pursue new approaches and make an impact. We must cultivate innovation, exploring new, more effective pathways for how our students and faculty learn and create new knowledge.

In my view, the public research university of the 21st century must:

  • Engage in solving major global problems, expanding knowledge, and improving lives throughout society
  • Offer the highest-quality undergraduate education, graduate programs, and research to prepare the next generation of leaders who will change the world
  • Exploit the opportunities that new technology creates in learning and educational research
  • Develop new revenue streams to become even more financially self-sufficient
  • Focus resources on those programs that can achieve true excellence and that offer strategic opportunities to advance knowledge
  • Increase efficiency and reduce costs in university operations on a continual basis
  • Share educational resources with emerging research universities, regional universities, community colleges, and high schools to expand educational opportunities for everyone

This vision for the future is taking shape in many ways on our campus, much of it inspired by the Commission of 125. The Commission emphasized the importance of pursuing excellence, enriching the undergraduate experience, and developing strong leadership for academic departments and research centers. Here are some of the changes under way that reflect our commitment to this vision.

UT has overhauled its core curriculum for all undergraduates, adding a mandatory rigorous intellectual experience known as the First-Year Signature Course, which includes coursework in disciplines such as English, history, social sciences, math, natural sciences, and the performing arts. These courses are designed to develop important skills in writing, critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, ethics, and independent inquiry.

We are redesigning key gateway courses in chemistry, biology, and statistics to shift the emphasis from traditional teaching methods to more innovative and effective student-centered learning. This Course Transformation Program uses technology to gain immediate insights into teaching effectiveness and to individualize learning both inside and outside the classroom. Transformation of these three initial courses will affect more than 9,000 UT Austin students per year.

We are partnering with Harvard and Carnegie Mellon universities to use advanced instructional technology and interactive tools to develop free educational materials and online interactive tutors to help students realize their potential on our campus and at other Texas colleges and universities. One of the objectives of the project is to help students reach similar levels of proficiency across learning environments at institutions with a wide range of missions.

Innovation also requires that we manage costs. In fact, our administrative costs are about half the average rate for state universities in Texas. Current efficiency initiatives in information technology, data storage, purchasing, water and energy conservation, and other areas are projected to save $565 million over a 10-year period.

In addition to finding new efficiencies, we must also create new income streams to support our academic priorities.

  • We are aggressively pursuing the commercialization of our intellectual property through programs to create new companies and connect them with investors.
  • In 2010 we launched H2Orange bottled water, a partnership that generates scholarship funds from water packaged in a recyclable bottle shaped like the UT Tower.
  • Earlier this year we announced the Longhorn Network, a 20-year partnership with ESPN and IMG College that will guarantee $300 million in revenue to support UT Austin. We have already committed funding from this agreement to create new faculty chairs in philosophy and physics.

American research universities are the envy of the world. Nations worldwide are aggressively trying to replicate them because they attract the best faculty, who attract the best students, who become tomorrow’s leaders. Research universities drive economic development in their regions because they produce the educated workforce companies need and new knowledge that generates innovation and economic development.

Texas has a history of leadership and innovation. To build a stronger future for the people of our state, we need to lead in higher education. At UT Austin, we are working to unify our 470,000 alumni and many other important constituent groups to make this shared vision a reality. It’s a vision that will strengthen all public universities, our state, and our nation.

Sincerely,

Bill's Signature