Support Orange and Maroon Day


President Powers with Dr. Mark Hussey, interim president of Texas A&M, today at a press conference kicking off Orange and Maroon Day 2015

For one special day during each legislative session, alumni volunteers from Texas’ two great flagship universities converge on the Capitol to encourage our elected representatives to support higher education in general and to support our state’s Tier-One research universities in particular. Today is “Orange & Maroon Day” at the Capitol. I look forward to joining with Texas A&M Interim President Mark Hussey and alumni leaders of both universities in getting our message to lawmakers.

UT Austin and Texas A&M combined teach more than 100,000 students, and each year 24,000 students graduate from these two schools and enter the workforce. Put simply, these young people are the future of our state — leaders in education, in business, in government, in the arts, and more. When you look at these Longhorns and Aggies, you’re looking at the future of our state and our nation. Together our two institutions have 875,000 alumni.
But of course the significance of these universities is not merely in the number of students they educate; it’s in the kind of education those students get. Texas and Texas A&M are partners because we share a model of education that is highly productive and deserves additional support. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors make up the ecosystem that produces both the kind of knowledge that moves society forward and the kind of leaders society needs.

The immediate payoff to Texas is enormous: together, UT Austin and Texas A&M attract $1.5 billion in research funding back to the Texas economy annually. But the long-term payoff is immeasurably larger because these universities produce the critical thinkers and leaders who will guide our future prosperity and civil society.
What starts here changes the world.

Bill Powers 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

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!

Best 12 Stories of the Academic Year

Campus scenes 2012 McCombs, Union, Tower and flowers

As the 2011-2012 academic year comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back on a dozen good milestones and accomplishments from the year. All of these achievements, which we reached as a community, indicate our growing strength as a university of national and international importance. So here, in no particular order, is my list:

(Clicking on the numbered item will take you to a related article.)

1. Medical School Momentum
With support from Senator Kirk Watson, the UT System, the Seton Healthcare Family, and others, we now have real momentum toward a medical school at UT Austin.

2. Four-year Graduation Rate Initiative
Our Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates submitted more than 60 recommendations for faster time-to-degree, and we’re already acting on them.

 3. Study finds UT No. 2 in efficiency
Factoring together multiple indicators of efficiency such as graduation rates, state support, and faculty employed put UT Austin nearly at the top nationally.

4. New Deans and Vice President
Leadership is critical to the success of any institution, and this year we recruited four outstanding executives to the campus. Luis Zayas became dean of Social Work; Linda Hicke will lead Natural Sciences; Ward Farnsworth is our new dean of Law; and Gage Paine will become our new vice president for student affairs.

5. Course Transformation
Using new educational technology and new findings in cognitive science, introductory courses in chemistry, statistics, and biology have been energized by experimental formats that increase interaction between students and teachers and among students themselves. And class attendance is up.

6. Big 12 strengthens with new members
The Horned Frogs and Mountaineers joined the conference to replace departing Aggies and Tigers.

7. Stampede
UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center won a National Science Foundation supercomputer grant worth a potential $50 million.

8. Alumni join students in The Project
Texas Exes chapters pitch in to take UT students’ community service project nationwide.

9. UT Business professors, Graduate Programs in Education and Accounting No. 1 in nation
The Princeton Review gave McCombs faculty top honors; U.S. News and World Report again ranked the graduate programs in our College of Education best among public universities in the nation and our graduate accounting program was ranked No. 1 for the seventh straight year.

10. UT hosts Fire Relief Benefit
Star-studded Erwin Center event raised $725,000 for Bastrop County fire victims.

11. Harry Ransom Center acquires J.M. Coetzee Archive
A Nobel-winning novelist trusts his alma mater with his papers.

12. Campaign for Texas reaches $1.93 billion
We expect to reach the $2 billion milestone this summer.

I’m so proud of this university and all it does every day to make the world a better place. Although no one knows what will be on this list a year from now, I know it will change the world.

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

Briefing the Council on Foreign Relations

Powers_Sexton and McAuliffe3

On Thursday, I participated on a panel with three other university presidents at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Its Higher Education Working Group wanted to hear our thoughts on how higher education is affecting globalization and vice versa.

Despite the fact that our out-of-state admissions are capped by law at 10 percent, because of our size, UT Austin has one of the largest cohorts of international students in the country, 4,631. I’m proud of that because international students help make our campus the global village that a modern university should be. (China, Korea, India, and Mexico contribute the most.)

Our shrinking world also dictates that our curriculum prepares students for global life, and our core curriculum includes a global cultures requirement. Foreign languages (34 at UT), study abroad, and the collaboration of our faculty with that of foreign universities are all ways globalization affect us.

In the other direction, it’s easy to see how higher education affects globalization. A recent study showed that 27 percent of 2,500 high-ranking government officials around the world were educated in the United States. The effects of this on international relations are hard to overstate. Our Texas Exes chapters and networks in Mexico City, London, Hong Kong, New Delhi, France, Scotland, Taipei, and even Cuba, remind us of the global reach of even one university.

No matter where I go around the world, I’m always proud to represent The University of Texas at Austin.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature