UT helps make Austin ‘Best-Performing Large City’ of 2013

CongressReduced

Each year, the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, ranks the economic performance of U.S. cities, and this year, the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos metropolitan area was ranked America’s Best Performing Large City. The institute noted that “The Lone Star State, which has both technology and energy assets, claimed three of the Top 10 and seven of the Top 25 large cities.” In the institute’s own words:

This year’s Best-Performing City, Austin, is a case study in concocting the proper recipe for economic vitality. A rising technology center, it is creating high-quality jobs that improve the region’s overall wage structure. Economic development officials rightly tout its business-friendly, low-tax, low-regulation climate when recruiting outside the state, particularly when soliciting California firms. They also herald the business startups of local entrepreneurs, the spinouts from the University of Texas, Austin, and the number and quality of UT graduates.

Austin’s technology base is fairly diversified: hardware, chips and communication gear, computer system design, Internet-related services, and biomedical research. The metro has its share of homegrown tech companies — Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, Flextronics International, and National Instruments among them — and has been successful at attracting technology icons from elsewhere as well. The financial services sector is also adding jobs.

I’m proud of the huge economic driver UT Austin continues to be both for our state and for our area. With the addition of UT’s Dell Medical School, our power to drive innovation and the economy will only increase.

What starts here changes the world.

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Photo by UT philosophy junior Amyn Kassam

Alumni help Blanton celebrate 50 years by lending masterworks

Blanton Museum of Art - University of Texas Austin - May 2006
On Saturday night, I had the privilege of being a part of the Blanton Museum of Art’s gala celebrating a half century. (Although the current building opened in 2006, the institution dates to 1963.) The golden anniversary is also being marked by the exhibit “Through the Eyes of Texas: Masterworks from Alumni Collections.” This is one of the most exciting exhibits to be shown in Central Texas in memory, and it’s all the more special because it’s our own alumni and friends directly enriching the education of our students.

The eclectic exhibit of nearly 200 pieces includes ancient Mayan vessels, tribal masks, Chinese jade, Renaissance paintings, and Old Master prints and drawings, which are showcased alongside more contemporary works by artists such as Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe.

The lenders to the exhibition include alumni Jeanne and Michael Klein of Austin, Mary Winton Green of Chicago, Judy and Charles Tate of Houston, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky of Dallas, and Darren Walker and David Beitzel of New York. The exhibit will be on display through May 19.

To be a world-class university, we need a world-class art museum, and fortunately we have one in the Blanton, which is flourishing under the leadership of Director Simone Wicha. I’m so proud of what it has accomplished in its first half century, and I’m excited about where it’s heading.

What starts here changes the world.

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Looking Back on 2012 and Looking Forward

Commencement 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, I want to thank all the members of the UT family for your support during another challenging year. Kim and I appreciate the countless kind words and gestures from the Longhorn community.

There are many exceptional accomplishments for which we should all take great pride. In partnership with the citizens of Travis County, Seton Healthcare Family, Central Health, and other important allies, we have embarked on creating a medical school for UT Austin. Our Longhorn athletes performed magnificently at the London Olympic Games. Thanks to our amazing faculty, we entered the world’s Top 25 universities according to a leading observer of higher education.

Senior William Berdanier was recently awarded the Marshall Scholarship to study mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge University. And just earlier this week the Longhorn volleyball team won the national championship. We’ve moved into the state-of-the-art Belo Center for New Media, and in the coming months, we’ll cut ribbons on the Liberal Arts Building and the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall.

The national conversation on the future of public higher education will continue, but I want you to know that UT will be at the forefront. We have aggressively committed energy and resources to improving classroom learning and four-year graduation rates. In a few days, I will receive the report of the UT Committee on Business Productivity, a group of 13 business leaders who have made an extensive review of our operations, systems, and processes in the interest of making UT the most efficient university in the nation. Within the year, I’ll have the honor of serving as chair of the Association of American Universities, the prestigious alliance of 61 of the finest research universities in North America.

Starting next month, I’ll be working with the Texas Legislature to help shape public policy and support of higher education in our state. I will keep you posted on our priorities and issues that affect our campus. In all of this work, UT depends on your support. With your help, I’m confident that the coming year will hold even greater success for your university.

I’d like to share this article listing some of the biggest UT stories of 2012. Finally, Kim and I want to wish you and your family a safe and joyful holiday season.

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