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

Bill Gates speaks to Longhorn students, UT’s Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall open their doors

Gates, Bill and the Bill and Melinda Gates building dedication 2013


Wednesday was a big day for UT Austin. In a ceremony attended by Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, we officially dedicated the Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall located in the heart of campus on the east side of Speedway. It was a great honor to have Bill Gates on our campus, an occasion made even better by his speaking to our students after the dedication. He shared his thoughts with students about the interplay between technology and philanthropy for social good.

He also wanted to highlight the work of our own faculty and selected professors Calvin Lin and Lauren Ancel Meyers to talk about their work during the same session. Dr. Lin is a computer science professor and director of the Turing Scholars Honors Program, and Dr. Meyers is a professor of integrative biology who works on mathematical models to predict the spread of infectious diseases.

In thanks for his visit, the College of Natural Sciences and UT alumnus Bob O’Rear (Microsoft’s seventh employee) and his wife Cathy have funded a research stream in the college’s Freshman Research Initiative in Bill and Melinda Gates’ honor. A total of 90 freshmen over three years will research technologies that will help people diagnose their own health. This research stream, conceived by our College of Natural Sciences, combines Bill Gates’ three biggest areas of interest: education, public health, and technology.

Sustainability feature, Gates and Liberal Arts buildings 2013

The atrium of our stunning new Gates Computer Science Complex. Abundant daylight will help keep energy use low.


It was a great day that marked the beginning of three years of high-impact research in honor of Bill and Melinda Gates, and many decades of advancement in computer science thanks to them, Michael and Susan Dell, and many other donors. My thanks too to Dean Linda Hicke and her team in the College of Natural Sciences, Computer Science Chair Bruce Porter, his predecessor Dr. J. Moore, and all the faculty and staff who helped make UT Austin home to this state-of-the-art facility.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature




Photos by Marsha Miller/UT Austin