Giving Back to Support the Next Generation in Engineering

President Powers accepts Whaley gift

David Anderson, the executor of Whaley’s estate, and his wife, Ann, and son, Matt (center) with Bill Powers (left) and Dean Sharon Wood (right).

As we enter the final weeks of the Campaign for Texas, I am gratified to see so many friends and alumni giving back to our university. This week we announced a large posthumous gift–$35 million from the late T. W. Whaley, who earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from UT in 1968.

What’s special about this bequest is that it was given with the specific intention of funding scholarships for top Texas students in engineering and science. The endowment, projected to provide $1.6 million in annual merit scholarships and fellowships, increases the Cockrell School of Engineering’s total scholarship and fellowship funding by 25 percent. It will provide substantial scholarship support for 34 Cockrell School students in the first year alone.

Born in Lorena, Texas, in 1935, Whaley was adopted at age 15 by parents who made education a priority. After service in the U.S. Army, he earned two degrees at Texas A&M University before enrolling at UT. His career included aerospace engineering with General Dynamics and employment at the Central Intelligence Agency. In later years he managed a family farm, mineral interests, and investments. A donor to the Cockrell School since 1974, Dr. Whaley died last year.

His generosity will help engineering students on our campus this fall and for generations to come.

Hook ’em!

Bill Powers signature



Court rules for UT Austin in Fisher case

Commencement 2013 Saturday evening

This afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit announced its decision in the case of Fisher vs. the University of Texas at Austin, which had been remanded to the Fifth Circuit by the Supreme Court last summer. In a 2-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit found in favor of UT Austin. I am very gratified that the Court’s ruling recognizes the constitutionality of the University’s admission policy under the Supreme Court’s recent guidance.

In its decision, the majority wrote, “It is equally settled that universities may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity.” The court continued, “This interest is compelled by the reality that university education is more the shaping of lives than the filling of heads with facts — the classic assertion of the humanities.”

We remain committed to assembling a student body at The University of Texas at Austin that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students. This ruling ensures that our campus, our state, and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events, and in all aspects of campus life.

Bill's Signature

Campaign for Texas reaches $2.75 billion


It’s a great time to be part of the UT Austin family.

Yesterday, on Texas Independence Day, we crossed another milestone in the Campaign for Texas, when our total giving surpassed $2.75 billion. More than 257,000 alumni, friends, foundations and corporations have given during this capital campaign. If you are among them, thank you! If you haven’t given yet, you can still help us make history and achieve our goal of $3 billion by August 31.

Your contributions are already hard at work. One exciting example is UT Austin’s new Dell Medical School. Because of your generosity, we are breaking ground for the medical school on April 21. And your donations help in thousands of other ways, such as scholarships for deserving students, faculty chairs in critical areas of study, and support of crucial programs across the University that will shape the future of our state and world.

Every gift, large or small, counts. Estate gifts (and letting us know about them) are especially important. And it just might be yours that propels UT across the finish line. Please give today.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

Academy of Distinguished Teachers welcomes new members

On Monday, UT’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers inducted four new members into its ranks. I’d like to share a little bit about each of this year’s inductees:

  • Sheldon Ekland-Olson has long been a beloved teacher and currently has appointments in three UT colleges and schools in including the College of Natural Sciences, where he serves as director of our School of Human Ecology; the College of Liberal Arts, where he is a longtime professor of sociology; and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Sheldon has also served as provost of the University.
  • Calvin Lin is a professor of computer sciences in our College of Natural Sciences. He recruits top Texas high school students away from the Ivy League and to our honors program, the Turing Scholars Program. And he inspires students in the classroom and on the Ultimate Frisbee field. Calvin’s teaching philosophy builds on the same three principles that implicitly shaped his nationally ranked Ultimate teams: Set high expectations, create a culture of success, and involve the individuals.
  • Juan Miro brings his students into the fold of architectural practice, guiding them to understand that design is a holistic process. His passion for architecture is demonstrated from teaching studio classes to leading students on architectural tours of Mexico each summer. And he contributes to the community with his own designs. Juan’s students do not simply learn the technical aspects of architecture but become thinkers, builders, and artists.
  • Theresa O’Halloran of the School of Biological Sciences, keeps undergraduates engaged through non-traditional methods that might include peer-to-peer instruction or physically active classroom exercises. She uses an entire class of students to act out the formation of proteins. Theresa challenges her students to think critically, and they flock to her classes as well as to opportunities to work in her lab, which often lead to graduate work in biology and medicine.
    Members of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers are the best of the best, and I’m proud of these four and all of our 118 current members.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

To the Tip o’ Texas for our Brownsville Send-off



Last week I traveled to Brownsville for one of my favorite events of the year, the Brownsville “Senior Send-off.” The Brownsville Chapter of the Texas Exes started this tradition 18 years ago and it’s still going strong. I met with 40 incoming freshmen from Cameron and Willacy counties and visited with their parents and area alumni as well.

The Texas Exes coordinate about 15 of these events every summer, and they can range from a backyard picnic for a few local students headed to the Forty Acres to Dallas’ 400-student Send-off complete with organizational booths. No matter what the scale of the event, I know that these Send-offs are exciting for students, reassuring to parents, and meaningful service for alumni.

A big thank you goes out to all our Texas Exes volunteers around the country for helping these new Longhorns get off to a good start.

 Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature

Marine Science Institute Completes Major Addition

Estuarine Research Center

Estuarine Research Center

During the heat of summer, our thoughts naturally turn toward the coast. And I’m delighted to announce the opening of a major new research facility at UT Austin’s Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.

This building designed for sustainability expands the research capacity of the Marine Science Institute with three floors of state-of-the-art marine laboratories. It also is the headquarters for the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), a 185,708-acre area of estuarine habitat established in 2006 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and managed by the institute.

The Marine Science Institute is a gem in our collection of academic and research units. I’m proud of the vital work its faculty and staff do every day, and I want to thank and congratulate institute director Lee Fuiman on this major accomplishment.

Learn more about it at here.

I hope you’re all having a safe and enjoyable summer.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature