This Saturday the Class of 2016 will officially become alumni of the University of Texas at Austin. As their time as students on the Forty Acres draws to a close, I couldn’t help but reflect on the challenges that await them, and the phenomenal impact so many of our exes have had changing the world. As Longhorns we have much to be proud of, and plenty to look forward to from this year’s class.
Last year I wrote about “dos Gregs,” two men I admire, respect, and consider friends. UT president Greg Fenves has ushered in a new era of leadership on campus, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, BBA ’81, Life Member, has shown that higher education is a major priority. Governor Abbott recently visited with Tim Taliaferro, editor-in-chief of the Alcalde. It’s an impressive exchange, and I wanted you to be among the very first to see Tim’s interview. You can find it here.
Ambitious projects like this make me proud because one of our strategic missions at the Texas Exes is to communicate the value that the University of Texas brings to the world. We do this through an award-winning magazine, a weekly news show, a strong social media presence, and more. In fact, our Communications team recently won a prestigious Webby award for its work on the Texas Exes 2015 Annual Report.
I also want to update you on a few other important developments at the association. Last week, leaders from our Chapters and Networks gathered at the Alumni Center, and I had the opportunity to thank them in person for the tremendous work they do to champion the university and engage Longhorns everywhere.
Our efforts in this area are growing fast. Since July of last year, an average of more than three UT chapter events has happened somewhere in the world every day. In 2014, we had 10 international chapters. We now have 28, and with one on every continent except Antarctica. (If you are reading this in Antarctica and you want to start a chapter, click here.)
Our Advocacy efforts have also seen major growth. The UT Advocates work to organize, inform, and mobilize alumni and friends of the University of Texas at Austin. We now have 5,800 advocates and counting, and we are working to make the collective voice of alumni heard in the upcoming legislative session. I’d encourage you to join us by signing up to be a UT Advocate here.
Financially speaking, our association is stronger than ever. Over the past five years, revenues have increased 160 percent, the net income from our operations is up 350 percent, and annual giving has grown by 210 percent. Most importantly, the amount we give out in scholarship awards has grown from $1.8 million to $3.5 million. And with membership now over 105,000, we are poised to be an even stronger force for good in the coming years.
I’d like to especially thank this year’s chairman, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has long exemplified what it is to be a Longhorn leader; John Massey, who will serve as next year’s president; Leslie Cedar, CEO and executive director; and the entire Texas Exes staff, all of whom have worked tirelessly to make our association the premier alumni group in the nation.
It’s clear that we have much to celebrate. This Saturday we will honor the Class of 2016 and welcome them to the Texas Exes at the Great Texas Exit. And just as it has been for me and so many of you, I hope the Alumni Center soon becomes their home away from home here on campus.
Saludos, and hook ’em,
President, Texas Exes
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