Breaking ground for the Engineering Education and Research Center

EERC Groundbreaking Celebration-16

With, from left, Chancellor Bill McRaven, Student Engineering Council President Anuj Kudva, and Engineering Dean Sharon Wood

Yesterday, I was honored to help break ground for our Engineering Education and Research Center. For many years this major new facility has been the dream of our engineering alumni, industry leaders throughout the state, and three successive deans: Ben Streetman, Greg Fenves, and Sharon Wood. Now it is becoming a reality.

Slated to open in 2017, the EERC will enhance our culture of innovation and transform engineering education with cross-disciplinary teaching and research. It will include:

• 430,000 square feet of open and flexible space for interactive learning and hands-on student projects
• 21st-century teaching and research labs for creating new technologies and solving real-world problems
• State-of-the-art engineering library and cafe, where students will study, collaborate and socialize
• A central location for all engineering student services, such as student life, advising and career assistance
• A new home for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Cockrell School’s largest department

My heartfelt thanks goes to the many donors and leaders who have brought us to this point. The EERC will allow our Cockrell School of Engineering to soar to even greater heights, and that will be good for all of Texas. This remarkable video offers a preview:

What starts here changes the world.
Bill Powers signature

Sharon Wood becomes next dean of UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering

Wood, Sharon 2013


I am delighted to announce that Sharon Wood — a distinguished engineering professor who has served as interim dean of our Cockrell School since October — is now the Cockrell School’s ninth dean. Sharon joins a select group of scholars to have led the school since T.U. Taylor taught our first engineering class in 1888. I am proud that she is the first female dean of this school, just as she was the first female department head within the Cockrell School. Sharon is a national expert in the performance of concrete structures during earthquakes.

The Cockrell School is ranked No. 10 in the nation, and best in Texas, by U.S. News & World Report. Sharon will lead its 270 faculty members and more than 7,500 students and oversee annual research expenditures exceeding $150 million. Leading the imminent construction of the Engineering Education and Research Center, which will elevate the Cockrell School even further, will be among her most important activities.

Sharon received her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also served on the faculty for 10 years. She joined the Cockrell School faculty in 1996.

I look forward to seeing the new heights the Cockrell School of Engineering will attain because of Dean Wood’s leadership.

What starts here changes the world.

Bill's Signature

2013 – One for the Record Books



As 2013 draws to close, I want to thank you for the role you have played in our extraordinarily successful year at UT Austin.

It was a year marked by momentous generosity.

Michael and Susan Dell gave UT $50 million enabling the creation of the Dell Medical School. This was only the first of three times the Dells and UT would make major headlines in 2013. The second was the opening the Dell Computer Science Hall this spring, named in honor of another $10 million gift from Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The hall opened as part of the Gates Computer Science Complex, made possible by a $30 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And the third headline was the gift of the Magnum Photos Collection, one of the most valuable gifts in the history of the University, given to the Ransom Center by Michael and Susan Dell, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, and John and Amy Phelan.

We named the College of Communication for the Moody family in recognition of a $50 million gift from the Moody Foundation. And former Regent Robert Rowling and his wife, Terry, pledged $25 million for a new home for the McCombs School of Business graduate programs to be named Rowling Hall.

All of these gifts and many more contributed to a record-breaking fundraising year for 2012-13. We need one more record year to achieve our $3 billion goal for the Campaign for Texas by the end of August.

It was a year marked by tremendous achievement.

UT’s largest college got a new home in January when we opened the Liberal Arts Building. We also launched the Clements Center for History, Strategy & Statecraft. And the Blanton Museum celebrated 50 years with a wonderful exhibit composed of masterworks from alumni collections.

Our faculty continued to win national and international recognitions: The National Academy of Engineering inducted Joseph J. Beaman Jr. of Mechanical Engineering; Sharon L. Wood of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering; and Keith P. Johnston of Chemical Engineering. The National Academy of Sciences elected John Goodenough of Mechanical Engineering. And the Institute of Medicine elected George Georgiou of Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering. Dean Young of the English Department was appointed Texas Poet Laureate. And C. Grant Willson of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering won the Japan Prize.

Our men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won Big 12 championships.

And it was a year marked by passages and transitions.

This year we lost the beloved Bill Livingston, who for nearly 60 years had served the University in numerous roles including that of interim president and senior vice president.

It was a year of major transitions as we thanked giants of our UT family for their dedicated service: DeLoss Dodds, who served 32 years as men’s athletics director; Tom Staley, director of the Ransom Center for more than 25 years; Mack Brown, who led our football program for 16 years; Steve Leslie, our executive vice president and provost, who had served in that role since 2007; and Robert Dahlstrom, who had served as UT police chief since 2006.

Among those who have succeeded them — our new executive vice president and provost Greg Fenves, formerly UT’s engineering dean; new athletics director Steve Patterson; new dean of graduate studies Judith Langlois; new dean of Undergraduate Studies Brent Iverson; new director of the Ransom Center Stephen Ennis; and new UT police chief, David Carter.

I’m always proud of UT Austin as I travel and meet my peers, and I am especially so this year as I fulfill my role as chair of the Association of American Universities.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. Thank you for all you have done for UT Austin this year.

Bill's Signature


Proud of our national academies inductees

National Academies and Institutes Honorees

From left, President Powers with Keith Johnston, George Georgiou, Joseph Beaman Jr., Sharon Wood, John Goodenough, and Provost Steven Leslie (Photo by Brian Birzer)


Last night I hosted a reception honoring five UT faculty members inducted into three national academies. We should all take great pride in these inductions, as few honors embody our identity as a top research university as these do. The Tower was lighted orange in their honor.


National Academy of Engineering

Joseph J. Beaman Jr., the Earnest F. Gloyna Regents Chair in Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was elected for innovation, development and commercialization of solid freeform fabrication and selective laser sintering.

Sharon L. Wood, the Robert L. Parker Sr. Centennial Professor and chair in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for her design of reinforced concrete structures and associated seismic instrumentation for extreme loadings and environment.

Keith P. Johnston, chemical engineering professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers worldwide.


National Academy of Sciences

John Goodenough, a mechanical engineering professor who is widely credited for the scientific discovery and development of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


Institute of Medicine

George Georgiou, a professor whose technology developments in the engineering, medical, biochemical and cellular fields could help treat tens of thousands of patients with diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis, has been elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In addition, two new alumni members of the National Academy of Engineering were inducted:

Rex Tillerson, B.S. in civil engineering ’75, was recognized for engineering leadership in the production of hydrocarbons in remote and challenging environments. Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, has been a member of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board for the past six years and is a member of the UT Development Board.

Gregory Deierlein, Ph.D. in civil engineering ’88, is the John A. Blume Professor in the Stanford University School of Engineering. He was recognized for the development of advanced structural analysis and design techniques and their implementation in design codes.

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for the honor you bring to the University.

Bill's Signature