Campaign for Texas a historic success

Commencement 2014 fireworks by Marsha

On October 17, 2008, I stood before a meeting of UT Austin’s Development Board and made an audacious proposal, a proposal to raise $3 billion through philanthropy in order to achieve the vision of excellence established by the Commission of 125. “That’s the cost of recruiting exceptional people and building excellence in our most strategic programs,” I said. “If we do this, we can become the great public research university of the 21st century.”

With that, we embarked on what we now believe is the largest fundraising campaign of any institution in the history of Texas.

It is thrilling to announce that we have successfully completed this transformative project. The campaign included gifts made during a two-year “silent” period that began in 2006, and in the eight subsequent years, we raised more than $3.1 billion. In the past year alone, we raised more than $856 million, setting a record for Texas higher education.

It often is said, if you want to know what a person believes in, look at his or her checkbook. You believed in UT. And you voted with your checkbook to pursue a vision of true excellence, a vision of UT Austin as America’s best.

My heart is filled with thanks for every member of the Longhorn family — individuals, foundations, associations, and corporations — who helped us. Especially, I thank three devoted alumni — Kenny Jastrow, who chaired the campaign, and Charles Tate and Libba Massey, who served as its co-vice-chairs. These three and thousands of others made the campaign a success.

Already, giving during this campaign has changed the face of our campus, with our new Liberal Arts Building and its home for ROTC, Gates Computer Science Complex, Dell Computer Science Hall, Belo Center for New Media, and Rowling Hall for graduate business education, among others. And the campaign has changed what we call our constituent parts: “Dell” is how we refer to our new medical school, “Moody” to our College of Communication, and “Butler” to our School of Music. The campaign established 830 new student scholarship and support endowments.

Above all, I am excited to witness the University’s transformation in the years to come and to know that this transformation was the fruit of your hope and your trust.

Hook ’em Horns!
Bill Powers 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

UT Austin medical school to be named for Dells

Dell Medical School announcement 2013_6197

How do you begin to say thank you to a couple that has meant as much to The University of Texas as Michael and Susan Dell? Their generosity — in so many areas — has already transformed UT. And last night, they became the namesake of UT’s future Dell Medical School with a gift of $50 million. This is in addition to their $38 million gift creating the Dell Pediatric Research Institute, a UT unit that opened in 2010 as our first step toward a medical school. And we are just days away from opening the Dell Computer Science Hall, named in honor of another $10 million gift.

Ten years ago, when Michael came to the campus to deliver our keynote address at Commencement, he said, while talking about the concept of winning, “Each day that you’re moving toward your dreams without compromising who you are, you’re winning.” That doesn’t just apply to new graduates. It applies to institutions themselves. With this gift, we are realizing our dream and doing it without compromising the great academic university we have worked for 130 years to become. And the winners are not just the University or the people of Central Texas, but people the world over who will benefit from education, research, and care the Dell Medical School will provide.

Michael and Susan, from the very bottom of our hearts, thank you. We look forward to working with you on this momentous project.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

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.

Bill's Signature