Staying Relevant

 

What was true when the Texas Exes was founded is true today: the University needs us informed, active, and engaged.

Alum Assoc Mtg

In 1885, a group of fresh-faced University of Texas alumni had an idea. It became clear to these young men that their young alma mater, struggling as it was just to graduate students, might well need their time and attention even after they were gone from campus. On June 18, 1885, the group, whose oldest member was 24, adopted a constitution, elected officers, and founded what today is known as the Texas Exes.

The primary mission of the founders was to provide scholarships to students and to engage in activities that encouraged and enhanced the educational experience. At first, the fledgling alumni association focused on keeping alumni informed about the University. As it increased membership, the Association expanded its efforts and began devoting time and money to projects to benefit the student experience on campus. By 1889, the Association was able to realize its goal as a provider of scholarships; the first scholarship was awarded that year to a student from Gonzales, Texas.

More than a century later, the Association continues to play a vital role in keeping alumni informed on the issues affecting the University and higher education. As the debate over college affordability rages today, the Texas Exes marches along, fulfilling a critical need with its long-standing scholarship programs. We engage alumni through our various chapters and networks around the world. We also advocate on issues of importance to the University at the legislature and elsewhere. Our legislative advocacy has centered on ensuring that UT has the resources and the leadership to fulfill its constitutional mandate to be a “university of the first class.” The value of a UT degree has never been higher, and we aim to do our part to keep it so. We work to improve the experience students have, so that they become loyal alumni. This magazine is part of a growing communications operation that keeps alumni informed about UT and articulates the value of the University to the state.

As the costs of a UT education have increased, Texas Exes across the globe have stepped up to raise even more scholarship money, so that the best students can get the kind of education and educational experience we had—or better. Last year we awarded nearly $2 million to more than 600 UT students, and our Forty Acres Scholars Program is wooing top talent away from our competitor schools and bringing them to Texas.

As president, it is my great honor to lead these efforts, and I am particularly focused this year on getting more alumni to affiliate officially with the Texas Exes. At 100,000 members strong, the Texas Exes has never had more alumni as members. But we can get more, and the more we get, the more we can do.

I am often asked: “What can I do to help?” The easy answer is to ask friends who are not members to join our team. If you can participate in our scholarship programs, please consider doing so. Finally, be informed about the University and help carry the message of its achievements and contributions to higher education, the state, and yes, the world. As alumni, the return on our investment of our time and resources is far greater if more of us are pulling together. That is what those young alumni understood back in 1885 when they became engaged with the University and its students. That is why we started and why we are thriving today.

Charles Matthews
PRESIDENT, TEXAS EXES

Alumni meet in front of the newly opened YMCA building on Guadalupe Street in June 1913.

 

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September|October 2017
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