UT’s 132nd Commencement: A Time to Celebrate

Commencement 2013 Saturday evening

As UT Austin’s 132nd Commencement approaches this weekend, I want to send my sincere congratulations to our graduates and their families. Graduating from The University of Texas is a tremendous achievement and a profound milestone in your lives. I’m proud of every one of you.

I’d like to share a few statistics about our graduates this year you might find interesting:

  • • Some 9,007 degrees will be awarded this weekend to a total of 8,667 graduates. The majority are women, who outnumber men by more than 200.
    • We will award 6,104 bachelor’s degrees, 2,042 master’s degrees, and 861 doctoral degrees.
    • Harris (Houston), Travis (Austin), and Dallas counties sent the most students to this year’s graduating class.
    • California, Illinois, and New York are the top contributors of out-of-state students.
    • China, India, and Korea are the top contributors of foreign students.
    • There are eight degree candidates under the age of 20 and 10 over the age of 60.
    • Our College of Liberal Arts has the most graduates of any of our 17 colleges and schools.
    • The most popular major in the Class of 2015 is Business Administration.

Again, my warmest congratulations to all of our graduates. I hope to see you all at our University-wide Commencement Ceremony on the Main Mall Saturday night at 8 p.m. This year’s keynote speaker will be Darren Walker, an inspirational UT alumnus and president of the Ford Foundation.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill Powers signature

Class of 2014 on its way

On Saturday night, the UT family sent the Class of 2014 off in Texas style. Featuring world-class speakers, music, and fireworks, it was an evening our newest 8,686 Texas Exes will never forget.

Commencement 2014 Saturday evening, May 17, 2014

Our keynote speaker was Distinguished Alumnus and commander of U.S. Special Operations, Admiral William McRaven, BJ ’77. In a no-nonsense and very engaging speech that catalogued the hardships and lessons of Navy SEAL training, he told our graduates:

“Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden, and never, ever give up – if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today, and what started here will indeed have changed the world – for the better.”

I invite you to listen to Admiral McRaven’s full speech, watch a video of the incredible fireworks display from the Tower, and take a look at some great photos and social media posts from this, the high point of the year. As alumnus Francisco Loredo tweeted, “I seriously doubt anyone does commencement like it’s done at @UT Austin #HookEm.”

Commencement 2014 fireworks by Marsha

To our graduates, congratulations on this momentous achievement. Please stay in touch and stay involved in the life of your alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin. We are proud of you. Now go change the world.

Bill's Signature

Congratulations, New Graduates



On Saturday, 3,244 students will enter the next phase of their Longhorn careers, graduating and so becoming Texas Exes. I welcome the families of our new graduates to the Forty Acres, and I celebrate with them this momentous event in the lives of their children, brothers and sisters, spouses, and in some cases, parents.

New graduates, I look forward to seeing what you do with the education you received here. At UT Austin we say “What starts here changes the world,” and we mean it. The Eyes of Texas — and of the world — are upon you, so make the most of your lives. Stay in touch with your classmates, your professors, your deans, and with me, and come back often to visit your alma mater.

Congratulations to all of our graduates and to all of their loved ones who have helped them reach this point. And Hook ’em Horns!


Bill's Signature

Class of 2013 on its way

Commencement 2013 Saturday evening
On Saturday night, members of UT’s Class of 2013 became alumni. As always, I was inspired by their stories, their smiles, and the pride of their families and friends. I know our faculty was proud as well, as these graduates are the fruit of their labor. And our staff members, especially the dozens of specialists involved in putting on this majestic event each May, have my thanks for all it has done during this school year.

As our graduates go out into the world, I want to be sure all of you get a chance to see these remarkable stories  of how our newest alumni are making a difference. I’m proud of all of them.

Now it’s on to summer. For many, it will be another round of intensive classes. Others will expand their horizons with travel and study abroad, internships, service, and other activities tailored for this season of regrouping and continued growth.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

Congratulations, December graduates!



I want to congratulate the 3,100 Longhorns who will graduate this weekend during winter commencement ceremonies in our colleges and schools — and to welcome their families and friends to the campus.

As you head out to make your mark upon the world, remember the skills and ideals you learned as a UT student, get involved in the continuing life of the University through the Texas Exes and through your college’s or school’s advisory councils, and come back often. UT will always be your home.

Again, congratulations, and wherever life takes you, hold your horns high!

Commencement inspires

Commencement 2012

On Saturday night, nearly 8,000 Longhorns graduated from The University of Texas and joined the worldwide family of Texas Exes. It is without a doubt the highlight of the year for anyone involved in the daily life of the University, and we treat it as such — with a symphony and chorale, inspirational speakers, and fireworks.

I want to congratulate every UT graduate and share with you three student stories I highlighted Saturday night:

Nathalie Kalombo graduated with degrees in government and political communication, and a minor in Spanish. She was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and her family overcame great adversity and made tremendous sacrifices on their way to life in America. Her experience with an oppressive state fueled Nathalie’s passion for democracy, and she hopes to one day be a communication director for a presidential campaign. Having just completed UT’s Archer Fellowship in Washington, she is well on her way. Whether she’s volunteering in student government or in her community, she’s inspired us with her passion for what we too often take for granted — human rights and true democracy.

Cooper Neely graduated with a degree in dance. But that’s not what he expected. Cooper grew up in the North Texas town of Throckmorton, population 900, and came to UT to get an anthropology degree. He’d always enjoyed dancing, but his only teacher had been YouTube. Then he enrolled in a theater class, and his professor and fellow students noticed his extraordinary talent right away. He switched his major to dance and soon became one of the department’s leading performers. Cooper is now off to study at the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. It might never have happened if that small-town kid hadn’t come to UT and been open to new possibilities.

Luciano Martinez III graduated with a degree in mathematics. As a freshman from the Rio Grande Valley, Luciano was a walk-on for the Longhorn football scout team, and although he only played one down in his time on the team, he always took it on himself to pump up the crowd from the sidelines. Also as a freshman, he joined UTeach, the nationally recognized math and science teacher-training program. This year, while finishing his degree, Luciano taught geometry four hours a day, five days a week to sophomores at McCallum High School. He’s now considering several teaching positions, but wherever he lands after graduation, he knows what he wants to do. “I want to teach kids math,” he says, “and coach my defensive line.”

These students and so many more remind me of why I chose to make education my life’s work.

Finally, I’d like to thank Secretary Robert Gates for his inspiring remarks and everyone who works so hard each May to make commencement a memory to last a lifetime.

Hook ’em Horns!




Photo by Marsha Miller