Sure, UT is good for the world, but first and foremost, it’s good for the state.
We’ve all heard and internalized Walter Cronkite’s now-famous tagline from commercials advertising The University of Texas: What starts here changes the world. As true as that statement is, it can sometimes overshadow an equally important one: What starts here changes Texas.
The future of this state depends on how well its workforce is educated. A highly educated workforce makes Texas an attractive place where businesses and families can thrive. A strong University of Texas at Austin is central to supplying the creative and capable minds that start and attract new businesses, compete in a knowledge-based global economy, and advance the frontiers of medical science. That is a fact. But until people from Lubbock to Lufkin to Luckenbach believe it, the future of our University and our state will be vulnerable.
There are 25 million people in this state and only 450,000 living UT alumni. If we all lived in Texas, we would represent less than 2 percent of the population. Even though few investments produce the kind of return UT-Austin does—about $18 for every $1 of state support—the overwhelming majority of our state has little notion of the University’s impact or how it materially affects their lives. And that is a problem.
The mission of the Texas Exes is quite clear: to unite, inform, and involve alumni and friends for the purpose of promoting, preserving, and protecting The University of Texas. You joined this organization because you support that mission, and now more than ever is the time to help fulfill it. We need you and all Texas Exes to be informed about the impact of your alma mater, involved in articulating it to your friends and neighbors, and united behind the belief that the best thing The University of Texas can do for the people of this state is to fulfill its goal of becoming the premier public research and teaching university in the country.
Find your local chapter, get involved, bring your friends to the next event, and ask them to join. Come to campus for Alumni College, join the UT Advocates, support scholarships, and travel with the Flying Longhorns. Read The Alcalde for the many stories that detail UT’s impact on the state. In this issue alone, you’ll find articles on how UT is helping make Texas a supercomputing hub, on the University’s impressive and rapidly improving efforts at technology transfer and commercialization, and on a leading expert growing organs for transplant, who came to Texas to collaborate with UT’s biomedical engineers. I invite you to share these stories with your friends.
And the next time you hear that beautiful tagline, What starts here changes the world, remember: What starts here also changes Texas. That, too, is something to be proud of.
Machree Gibson is the president of the Texas Exes.