A message from Chancellor McRaven

Today, on Chancellor Bill McRaven’s first day of service to the UT System, I want to welcome and congratulate him. We are fortunate to have him at the helm. It’s my pleasure to share with the UT family the following statement from Chancellor McRaven.


Dear Friends,

Today marks the first day of what I hope will be many years serving The University of Texas System. My wife, Georgeann, and I are both extremely excited about representing this magnificent institution.

I want to begin by thanking the Board of Regents for its confidence in me and for giving me this opportunity to serve as the UT System Chancellor. I will work tirelessly to advance the goals of higher education, research, clinical care and service to the State of Texas. As a public servant, I can think of no nobler calling.

I also want to thank former Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. His phenomenal leadership over the past six years has made the UT System one of the finest in the nation and has fundamentally changed the lives of Texans by increasing the availability of and expanding the opportunities for higher education. It is a legacy of which to be exceptionally proud. Additionally, Francisco and Graciela were incredibly kind to both Georgeann and me as we worked through the transition. We felt at home right away. I wish the Cigarroas all the very best as they return to San Antonio and the UT Health Science Center.

As I take the reins of the UT System I cannot help but be influenced by my time in the service. In my 37 years in the military, I served in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Europe and throughout the United States. My experiences interacting with people from around the world have shaped my thinking about the uniqueness of Texas, the role of higher education, research, and health care, and the rewards of service to our state and nation.

As I traveled around the world it never ceased to amaze me that when I told people I was from Texas, everyone I encountered, from the youngest Afghan girl to the oldest African villager, had a common view of Texas and Texans. They understood that Texans were men and women of character and integrity — strong-willed, independent, bold, risk-takers, who helped the weak and downtrodden, who got up when they were knocked down, and who never complained about their struggles. Texans wore boots and big hats and sat tall in the saddle because there was a grandness in their manner. They understood that being a Texan was something special.

This image of Texans was universal, and we have rightly earned that reputation through generations of men and women who came to this great land and made it what it is today. We are Texans, and that should mean something in everything we do — particularly in higher education, research, health care and service.

In my travels I saw what a good education can do to transform a society. A good education reduces fear, bigotry, racism, and inequality. A good education brings dignity and respect. A good education provides new opportunities and, above all, a good education gives hope and a belief in the future.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, I saw young Americans fighting alongside their Iraqi and Afghan partners to secure schoolhouses so young women could have an education.
I saw children from Mali and Chad, Colombia and Peru, the Philippines and Indonesia overcome every obstacle in their path just to go to a cramped one-room shack so they could get an education.

When you have to overcome tremendous odds, you have an entirely new appreciation for the value of education. Everything is better with a good education.
Consequently, we should ensure that every young Texan has the opportunity for an education, but we should also teach them to overcome obstacles and let nothing stop them from achieving their goals.

As a Navy SEAL, my life often depended on the quality of the technology that we used for our missions. We have the best special operations forces in the world because we select the finest men and women and because we have state-of-the-art technology. This technology includes GPS, night vision goggles, frequency hopping radios, unmanned aerial vehicles, sonars for our mini-subs, terrain-following radar for our special aircraft, laser designators on our weapons, body armor, special operation tourniquets for our medics, and prosthetics for our wounded, just to name a few.

This technology didn’t appear overnight. It was the product of long, hard work in the research labs. Sometimes it meant years of small incremental steps that suddenly led to dramatic changes and revolutionary advances. It also required exceptionally dedicated scientists and clinicians, administrators and staff support and sufficient funds to make these ideas come to life.

When I look at the magnificent research going on across the UT System — both at the academic and health institutions — I understand and value the work in a way that others may not, because a lot of the research that starts in Texas has saved lives on the battlefield. I have seen it firsthand.

I also value service — service to the nation and service to the State of Texas. I have been fortunate to serve with some of the finest young men and women this country has ever produced. After 9/11 these “millennials” joined the military and the State Department and the CIA and the FBI and non-governmental organizations, and they served wherever they were needed. And many of them either didn’t come back or they came back forever changed.

These are the same young men and women who are being raised in Dallas and Houston, Brownsville and El Paso, towns big and small alike. These are the same young men and women who are coming to our UT institutions around the state. They value service and we should find every opportunity to help them serve Texas and the nation.
Finally, I have been raised in a culture that values leadership. From the time I attended Naval ROTC at UT Austin, the military has instilled in me the core values necessary to lead. But leadership is not the sole purview of the military.
In fact, I believe that the purpose of education is to build great leaders. From anthropologists to zoologists, from accountants to physicists, great leaders are people who make changes for the betterment of society: a better way to understand shifting demographics, a better business model, a better way to treat cancer, a better legal argument or a better understanding of why we exist. As Texans, building great leaders should be part of our DNA.

However, I don’t believe you can build great leaders without creating an environment that challenges them, that encourages them — an environment that propels them forward.

Within The University of Texas System, that environment resides in our academic and intellectual freedom. I strongly believe that as students, faculty, and researchers, we should challenge conventional wisdom. We should challenge the great philosophers. We should challenge the nature of the universe. We should challenge our economic models, our governmental models, and our business models. Nothing should go unchallenged. We should be relentless in our pursuit of new ideas.

We should make people mad, frustrated, irate and alive with curiosity. We should publish papers that shake the foundation of conventional thinking.

We need students who challenge professors and professors who challenge students. I want those who educate our young men and women to come to work every day with a little anxiety, wondering whether they will be good enough for our students. I want students who wake up every morning excited about their classroom and what they might learn. I want researchers who push the envelope on every new idea, who never accept the existing theories and trends.

All of this should produce leaders in every field of endeavor. Leaders who are not afraid of the professional risk that comes from challenging the established thinking. We need leaders who can inspire, who can create and produce. We need leaders who can educate the next generation of thinkers. We must be known as the institution that builds leaders through world-class education, cutting-edge research, uncompromising intellectual integrity, and the highest ethical standards.

If we do this, we will continue to recruit the finest minds in the world because they will want to come to institutions of The University of Texas System. They will want to come to a place where we have the best facilities, the greatest intellectual freedom, and a student body and faculty that rival any institution in the country.

As Chancellor, I see my primary role as supporting the magnificent academic and health institutions that are the foundation of the UT System. The message to the System Administration is that we, the System, must add value to the institutions. We must wake up every morning with the goal of making the individual institutions the best they can be.

We must put the institutions in a position to thrive. We will do so by lessening the bureaucracy, creating a more entrepreneurial environment and encouraging risk-taking. My promise to all the senior leaders in our academic and health institutions is that I will work for you — for your goals — to advance your causes. I will need to earn your trust and I will work hard to do so every single day.

My duty is also to the Board of Regents, which has a responsibility to provide oversight and guidance to the System to advance the goals of higher education and research. I look forward to working with the Chairman and all the regents to forge a future that surpasses all expectations and provides an unshakable foundation for generations to come.

Additionally, as we prepare for the convening of the 84th Legislature, I can think of no better place to start building the future than by working with our new state leaders and legislators to outline our goals and identify the assistance we need to make those goals a reality.

I am also excited about the prospects of partnering with the other great academic and research institutions and with industry in the state and beyond. I will quickly reach out to leaders in these areas to find ways to improve collaboration and cooperation for the good of all the people of Texas.

Also, for the associations, councils, foundations, and groups that support, advise and contribute immensely to the advancement of The University of Texas System, rest assured that I not only value but will actively seek your involvement in the affairs of our institutions. The more voices I hear, the more clearly I will be able to determine the correct path ahead.

Lastly, there have been disagreements and disputes that have harmed the reputation of this great UT System and, as a result, we have missed opportunities to move forward. We are better than that. It is time to resolve those arguments and look to the future. My number one priority will be to rebuild the trust between all stakeholders —all of those who want to see the best from UT institutions.

Never in my life have I seen such promise and such potential to change the lives of Texans across the state. The University of Texas System is poised for greatness, but greatness does not come without hard work, dedication, and a clear vision of the goals at hand. I am confident that by pulling together we can forge a future that is befitting of the majesty that is Texas. I look forward to working with all of you to make that future a reality.

Thank you very much!

Bill McRaven

Congratulations, New Graduates!

Commencement 2014 fireworks by Marsha

This weekend, 3,095 students will enter the next phase of their Longhorn careers, graduating and becoming Texas Exes. I’d like to welcome the families and friends of our new graduates to the Forty Acres, and I join you in celebrating this momentous event in the lives of your loved ones.

To our new graduates, I look forward to seeing what you do with the education you earned here. We say “What starts here changes the world,” and we mean it. The Eyes of Texas — and the world — are upon you, so make the most of your lives. Stay in touch with your professors, your deans, and with me, and come back often to visit your alma mater. UT Austin should be a significant part of your life for the rest of your life.
Congratulations to all of our graduates and to all the people in their lives who have helped them reach this point.

Hook ’em Horns!

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Thank you, veterans.


Today, as a nation, we honor our military veterans and their families for the sacrifices they have made, both in peacetime and in war. On behalf of the whole UT Austin family, I salute all veterans and especially those who are students, faculty, staff, and alumni of UT. Additionally, I’m proud that UT has been ranked No. 3 in the nation for veterans seeking a solid return on their educational investment, according to Best Value Schools.

Again, UT salutes you, and I salute you. What starts here changes the world.

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A Texas-size Thank You


Yesterday, the University said thank you to everyone who helped support this great institution through their generous donations. As I reflect on the success of the Campaign for Texas and the $3.12 billion it raised, I think about the nearly 272,000 students, alumni, and friends who had the faith in this university’s vision to make a gift. I want to share my gratitude with each and every one of you. Thank you.

Please visit this website that tells the story of the campaign and includes a special thank you video you won’t want to miss.

Hook ’em Horns!

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UT takes leading role on major potential energy source, methane hydrate

I want to share with you a very important development. UT Austin recently received a research grant of $58 million to head a team studying methane hydrate, a substance found in abundance beneath the ocean floor and under Arctic permafrost. The U.S. Department of Energy is providing more than $41 million, with the remainder coming from industry and research partners. The fact that this is one of the largest research grants in the University’s history is certainly noteworthy, but the real excitement comes from the potential developments from the study itself.

Methane hydrate is an ice-like solid compound that forms in low-temperature and high-pressure environments where molecules of methane, a chief constituent of natural gas, are trapped within a lattice structure of water molecules. The worldwide energy implications are huge: within the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, where the team will be sampling, there is estimated to be 7,000 trillion cubic feet of methane hydrate, more than 250 times the amount of natural gas used in the United States in 2013. You can read more here.

I’m proud of our scientists at the Institute for Geophysics in the Jackson School of Geosciences for their leadership.

What starts here changes the world.
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New class of Distinguished Alumni honored


From left, Dealey Herndon, Scott Caven, Karen Nyberg, Matthew McConaughey, Jody Conradt, Earl Campbell, and John Massey. (Photo by Mark Rutkowski)

This past weekend, the Texas Exes and University of Texas honored six alumni with our highest award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and one non-alumnus with the Distinguished Service Award. I’d like to share these short descriptions of their accomplishments. You also can watch the moving videos produced for the event by clicking the links below:

Earl Christian Campbell, BS ’79, Austin
Campbell is one of the greatest running backs to ever play in the National Football League. After becoming the first Longhorn ever to win a Heisman Trophy in 1977, Campbell was the No. 1 draft pick by the Houston Oilers and went on to be named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. In 1981, the legislature named Campbell an Official State Hero of Texas. After retiring from football in 1985, he became a prominent businessman in Austin and later founded Earl Campbell Meat Products, Inc. He remains actively involved with UT Athletics and was a special assistant to the vice president for student affairs. In 1991, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Watch Earl Campbell’s recipient video here.

H. Scott Caven, Jr., BBA ’64, LLB ’67, Houston
Caven is managing director of Atlantic Trust, a private wealth management firm. He was a member of the UT Board of Regents from 2003-09, including service as chairman from 2007-09. During a 32-year career with Goldman Sachs, Caven was a vice president and a regional manager. A longtime UT advocate, Caven has chaired the UT System Chancellor’s Council and the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council. He is a founding member of the executive committee of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education. He has also chaired the board of directors of the University of Texas Investment Management Company and the Texas Growth Fund board of trustees. Caven is currently a member of the board of trustees for the Texas State History Museum Foundation. Watch Scott Caven’s recipient video here.

Dealey Decherd Herndon, BA ’69, Austin
Herndon was the executive director for the State Preservation Board of Texas from 1991-95, directing the restoration and extension of the Texas State Capitol. After the Texas Governor’s Mansion was nearly destroyed in a 2008 fire, Herndon returned to lead the restoration of the mansion. She is a longtime project manager and historic preservationist who owned the firm of Herndon, Stauch & Associates from 1995-2006, overseeing projects including UT’s ACES Building, the George W. Bush Childhood Home, the Caldwell County Historic Courthouse, and many more. Herndon is a member of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Texas Medal of Arts Award. She served on two advisory committees and on the Brackenridge Task Force. Watch Dealey Herndon’s recipient video here.

John H. Massey, LLB ’66, Dallas
Massey is the chairman of the Neuberger Berman Private Equity Funds Investment Committee and a member of the Co-Investment Partners Investment Committee. He has been a senior executive and director for many companies, including serving as president of two highly successful companies that were listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Massey also served on the boards of seven other publicly held companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He and his wife, Elizabeth Shatto Massey, BS 61, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, are proud natives of Columbus, Texas. They have created endowments at the McCombs School of Business, the School of Law, and the College of Education, as well as three Texas Exes Forty Acres Scholarships. Massey is also the president of the Law School Foundation and a trustee of the University of Texas Foundation. He is a recipient of UT’s Presidential Citation and in 2012 was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. Watch John Massey’s recipient video here.

Matthew David McConaughey, BS ’93, Austin
McConaughey is an Academy Award-winning actor. He has starred in Dazed and Confused, Amistad, Contact, The Wolf of Wall Street, True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club, for which he won the Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, both for Best Actor. McConaughey is the founder of the just keep livin Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers high school students to lead active lives and make healthy choices. He also partnered with Mack Brown and Jack Ingram in founding Mack, Jack, and McConaughey, a joint fundraising effort that benefits children. Watch Matthew McConaughey’s video here.

Karen L. Nyberg, MS ’96, PhD ’98, Houston
Nyberg is a NASA astronaut. She has logged more than 75 million miles and over 180 days in space, including the 123rd shuttle mission in 2008 and a five-month stint on the International Space Station in 2013. Nyberg received a patent in 1994 for a robot-friendly probe and socket assembly she designed while serving as an undergraduate intern at NASA, and her graduate research on the thermoregulation of spacesuits was published in four academic journals. She is the recipient of the Joyce Medalen Society of Women Engineers Award and the University of North Dakota Sioux Award. Watch Karen Nyberg’s recipient video here.

Distinguished Service Award

Jody Conradt, Austin
Conradt was the head coach of the University of Texas’ women’s basketball team from 1976-2007. In her 38-year coaching career, her players won 900 games, and 99 percent of them graduated. Among dozens of other accolades, she was named the National Collegiate Coach of the Year four times and was the second woman inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She helped establish UT’s Neighborhood Longhorns Program, an education outreach group that helps 5,500 disadvantaged Austin children build strong academic futures. Conradt, who also served as women’s athletics director from 1992-2001, is now a special assistant to Women’s Athletics.

I’m so proud of every one of these legendary Longhorns. What starts here changes the world.
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