Two UT Institutions Renamed for Longhorn Legends

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All UT faculty and staff leave their mark on the Forty Acres—but a few are so beloved that they do so literally. Last week, the University renamed two key spaces for some unforgettable Longhorns.

The Vick Center for Strategic Advising & Career Counseling was dedicated Friday in honor of retired vice president for student affairs and professor James Vick, and the Texas Union Ballroom was renamed the Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom on Thursday for the late senior vice president and Texas Union director.

Vick began a 40-year career at UT in 1970 as a math professor, and then became an associate dean for the College of Natural Sciences, before spending 16 years as the vice president for student affairs.

As vice president, Vick was instrumental in implementing campus staples such as First-Year Interest Groups and the Freshmen Reading Round-Up.

“Many, many, many of us give our professional lives to working hard, in our own way, to help students succeed,” says Brent Iverson, dean of undergraduate studies. “Jim made so many things happen as vice president of student affairs, it’s incalculable. This is just one modest but important tribute to the incredible things he’s done.”

In the dedication ceremony on Friday, Vick thanked the more than 50 people in the room, his colleagues, and the students he taught and advised over the years. Then he turned to his wife and simply said, “Thank you,” as he choked back tears.

“It’s kind of scary,” Vick joked about having his name on the center. “It gives you a lot more visibility. I’m proud of what we were able to do, and I’m grateful to those who did it.”

Perry, BS ’58, MA ’67, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, began working for UT in 1958 as program director for the Texas Union, where she later became the director. In her time as program director, Perry coordinated appearances from big-name speakers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert Kennedy. Shirley Bird Perry

“In the 80 years of the Texas Union at UT-Austin, no name looms larger than Shirley Bird’s,” said Gage E. Paine, vice president for student affairs, in a statement. “She served as a teacher and mentor to generations of students, especially student leaders here on the Forty Acres. She never lost sight of the core purpose of this institution to prepare our young people for productive lives.”

In a career lasting more than 40 years, Perry served as vice president for development and university relations before joining the UT System as a vice chancellor. She passed away in May 2011.

“This honor will recognize Shirley Bird’s devotion to her work at UT-Austin for generations to come,” President Bill Powers said in a release. “She is an important part of our university’s history. We are naming a magnificent space for a magnificent woman.”

Top, James Vick at the Vick Center’s dedication last week. Photo by Trent Lesikar.

Right, Shirley Bird Perry (undated photo).

 

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