Texas Exes Historian Honored For Revolutionizing Alumni Record-Keeping

There are nearly half a million living Longhorns, and there was no easy way to keep track of them all — until a historian with a head for record-keeping teamed up with others to change that for UT.

This week, Texas Exes historian Jim Nicar was commended by the University for his 18 years of dedication to creating and maintaining the University’s VIP (Very Important People) database.

Before 1993, the alumni association tried to keep records for all alumni, each school or college kept separate databases of its own graduates, and central Development kept tabs only on its own donors. There was little sharing.

With VIP, there is a collective database for every alumnus, student, and friend of the University — and a spirit of cooperation rather than competition.

The concept is unique even among peer universities, Texas Exes alumni records director Tracey Shultz says.

“Most universities to this day do not have a community approach toward the access and maintenance of alumni data,” she says. “Other institutions are amazed by our community database system.”

Nicar is considered a founding father of VIP. He has served on its policy board, monitored millions of its updates, and advocated endlessly for the entire system.

It’s the kind of behind-the-scenes work that isn’t glamorous but is a huge and important service to the University. Three cheers for Jim Nicar.



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