TribFest brings policy leaders to UT Austin

Texas Tribune Festival

Next weekend, Sept. 19-21, The Texas Tribune and The University of Texas at Austin will partner for the fourth time in presenting The Texas Tribune Festival — a gathering on the UT campus of some of the biggest names in politics and public policy to examine some of the most pressing issues affecting our state.

UT students, faculty, and staff can attend for a discounted rate of just $50, or volunteer for one shift and receive a complimentary Festival badge. Students (high school and college) also have access to several exclusive events in coordination with Pearson and UT’s Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life. Full details are available online.

The list of confirmed participants at the festival includes: U.S. senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz; Gov. Rick Perry; state senators Wendy Davis, Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte; U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro; former U.S. senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Bradley; and Land Commissioner nominee George P. Bush.

Student program highlights include:

Friday, Sept. 19 – Kickoff pizza party for students at the Cactus Cafe with networking tips and advice on how to get the most out of the festival

Saturday, Sept. 20 – A private student lounge in the Student Activity Center will feature valuable networking opportunities and exclusive meet-and-greets with festival speakers and special guests — including state Sen. Wendy Davis, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht. Students can stop by throughout the day for snacks, drinks, and fun activities.

Sunday, Sept. 21 – Following the festival’s closing session, students can attend a live TribCast podcast recording in KUT’s Studio 1A featuring free lunch, appearances by festival speakers and a special performance by The Jason Roberts Band.

On Saturday morning, I will be participating in a panel with five other leaders to discuss college completion rates.

For more information, visit the #TTFstudents site at, or view the full program at

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Welcome to the Forty Acres

This is the first week of the fall semester of 2014, and our campus is buzzing with activity. It’s especially exciting to feel the energy of new students as they begin this life-changing experience. Tuesday night, we gathered on the Main Mall to celebrate this new chapter with a freshman convocation we call Gone to Texas. Music, spirit groups, and a strong lineup of speakers primed our freshmen for their college careers. And, to the students’ great approval, this happened…

On Wednesday night, new students met in the stadium for the Texas Kickoff Rally, where they met Coach Charlie Strong and formed the Longhorn silhouette on the field for the Class of 2018 photo.


To all of you who have been away, welcome back. Let’s make it a year to remember!

Hook ’em Horns!

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UT Austin ranked a top university for Hispanic graduate students

Each year, ranks university graduate programs in four areas: business, engineering, law, and medicine. This year, UT Austin was one of just three universities ranked high in three of the four areas. The University ranked No. 2 in engineering, No. 3 in business, and No. 6 in law. The criteria included percentages of Hispanic enrollment and Hispanic faculty. The publication states: “As tends to be the case with many institutions in our lists, three states stand out in terms of being represented on our school lists. Texas, represented by 12 schools, leads the way in 2014, including an impressive 50 percent of the top 10 medical schools.”

Here are the numbers that drove our rankings.

Engineering: No. 2
Total graduate enrollment: 765
Hispanic graduate enrollment: 61
Percent Hispanic graduate enrollment: 8.0%
Total postgraduate degrees earned: 340
Postgraduate degrees earned to Hispanics: 29
Percent of postgraduate degrees earned to Hispanics: 8.5%
Full-time engineering school faculty: 200
Full-time engineering school Hispanic faculty: 7
Percent Hispanic faculty in engineering school: 3.5%

Business: No. 3
Total graduate enrollment: 511
Hispanic graduate enrollment: 35
Percent Hispanic graduate enrollment: 6.8%
Total MBA degrees earned: 268
MBA degrees earned to Hispanics: 17
Percent of MBA degrees earned to Hispanics: 6.3%
Full-time MBA school faculty: 95
Full-time MBA school Hispanic faculty: 4
Percent Hispanic faculty in MBA school: 4.2%

Law: No. 6
Total graduate enrollment: 1,038
Hispanic graduate enrollment: 162
Percent Hispanic graduate enrollment: 15.6%
Total J.D. degrees earned: 367
J.D. degrees earned by Hispanics: 57
Percent of J.D. degrees earned by Hispanics: 15.5%
Full-time law school faculty: 91
Full-time law school Hispanic faculty: 5
Percent of law school Hispanic faculty: 5.5%

The only area in which we were not ranked is medicine, and with the Dell Medical School opening in 2016, we soon could be four for four.
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Court rules for UT Austin in Fisher case

Commencement 2013 Saturday evening

This afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit announced its decision in the case of Fisher vs. the University of Texas at Austin, which had been remanded to the Fifth Circuit by the Supreme Court last summer. In a 2-1 decision, the Fifth Circuit found in favor of UT Austin. I am very gratified that the Court’s ruling recognizes the constitutionality of the University’s admission policy under the Supreme Court’s recent guidance.

In its decision, the majority wrote, “It is equally settled that universities may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity.” The court continued, “This interest is compelled by the reality that university education is more the shaping of lives than the filling of heads with facts — the classic assertion of the humanities.”

We remain committed to assembling a student body at The University of Texas at Austin that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students. This ruling ensures that our campus, our state, and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events, and in all aspects of campus life.

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Longhorn Network providing opportunities for students



One little-known benefit of the Longhorn Network to the University is the opportunity for our students to work as interns at the network. The recent success of many interns suggests we have tapped into a valuable feeder system for the ESPN family of networks.

Since the ESPN-run network launched, the experience gained at LHN has helped eight students get entry-level positions inside the ESPN family. Ten others have gone on to secure full-time positions in video production, marketing, sports journalism, and business operations at companies such as NBC, the Texas Rangers, and Yeti.

I’m proud of the Longhorn Network and all it has brought to the University, from its great sports and academic programming to its financial support for numerous faculty chairs. And we’re just getting started.

Hook ’em Horns,

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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.

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