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“Margaret, I think you have some friends here.”
With that understatement, President Bill Powers opened today’s dedication ceremony at the Student Activity Center.
After students and alumni lobbied for more than a year, the center’s atrium was officially named in honor of Margaret C. Berry, BA ’37, Life Member. Berry, 96, is a campus legend and Distinguished Alumna.
A crowd of more than 200 alumni, students, and friends gathered on the SAC lawn for the ceremony. The mood was festive, as the Longhorn Band played peppy tunes and guests mingled under orange banners. A toddler wearing cowboy boots and a burnt-orange tutu clapped her hands to the music.
Cheers went up when Berry stepped out of a limousine and walked toward the stage. She was visibly emotional throughout the ceremony, often wiping away tears.
Alumni Rick Potter and Cyndy Powell read a long litany of organizations—from Orange Jackets to Student Government—that Berry served during her nearly 80 years as a student, staff member, and all-around campus presence.
Berry fans came from both coasts for the event. The speakers included entrepreneur Steve Poizner, who lives in Silicon Valley, and Debra Law McKeown, of Washington, D.C.
Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell both spoke about how Berry influenced them personally.
“Margaret is what our parents wanted us to become,” Doggett said. “Even through the tumult of the 1960s, her grace and professionalism maintained the confidence of the entire University.”
Leffingwell proclaimed April 13, 2012, as Margaret C. Berry Day in the city of Austin.
“I don’t deserve this and I can’t thank you enough,” Berry told the crowd. “The University of Texas is a great place to be. And you make your own place in it. We can all do the little things that make a difference in someone’s life.”
Afterward, as the Longhorn Band marched away, an observer heard one tuba player tell another, “I hope I can love UT as much as that woman has.”
Photos by Marsha Miller