The Big Picture: Preparing for What’s Next

The Association is looking ahead to what future Exes will need and want.

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On May 22, dangerous thunderstorms forced the University of Texas to do something it had never done before—cancel the university-wide commencement ceremony. For so many families who had come into town, it was a devastating disappointment, and for the Class of 2015 it appeared to rob them of one of the defining moments of the UT experience.

That is, until those graduating students took matters into their own hands. Using social media, these industrious young people organized an impromptu, unofficial ceremony for the following night. They found a band, organized speakers, and by the time 9 p.m. rolled around some 1,000 people had gathered in front of the Tower, including then-president Bill Powers, who left a wedding to join the students.

What the Class of 2015 accomplished was one of the most impressive spontaneous demonstrations of school spirit in UT history. It was thrilling to watch those amazing young Longhorns celebrate their graduation, and it was heartening to know that even as they enter a tumultuous and uncertain world they are equipped with a UT degree.

The Texas Exes is an organization devoted to preserving and enhancing the legacy of the University of Texas. Building on a great legacy is a forward-looking, active effort, not an exercise in nostalgia. We concern ourselves with UT’s past, present, and future, because that is what the university needs us to do. Any organization, particularly one driven by its members, must constantly be thinking about the changing ways young people communicate and interact with the world if we are to survive.

As well as maintaining the world-class programing at the Texas Exes, one of my priorities as president will be to foster an environment where the association can grow. As part of that effort, we have engaged a world-renowned architecture firm, Snohetta, to study the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center and make recommendations for a master plan. Just as the association must respond to the changing expectations of students and young alumni, so must our home on campus accommodate modern requirements for events, programming, donor recognition, and workspace for a professional staff.

Developing a mentoring program will be a second priority. I know of no successful people who made it to where they are without the help of mentors. This is a tremendous opportunity for the Texas Exes. We will build the mentoring infrastructure so that we can harness and channel the energy, experience, and goodwill of the alumni network to help UT students and younger graduates advance in their careers.

Finally, I am gratefully aware that the Texas Exes relies on volunteers for its existence. I want to make sure that alumni have a positive experience when they interact with their alumni association, and that each and every volunteer knows that their time and energy is appreciated.

I am tremendously honored to serve as president of the Texas Exes and want to thank Kay Hutchison for her service this past year. The UT community is stronger than it has ever been. We have a wonderful new president in Greg Fenves, a great friend of the Texas Exes. Our faculty and staff rival the best in the nation. And as commencement weekend reminded us, our students and graduates are second to none.

Saludos, and hook ’em!

Antonio Garza
President, Texas Exes

Past president Bill Powers addresses the Class of 2015 at the unofficial commencement celebration on May 24. Photo by Kori Rady.

 

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