UT Loses Longtime And Beloved Administrator In Shirley Bird Perry

The University of Texas has lost one of its most valued administrators and well-loved champions in Shirley Bird Perry.

Perry, BS ’58, MA ’67, Life Member and Distinguished Alumna, passed away Wednesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer.

As a student in the ’50s, Perry set herself apart, being named “Most Outstanding Female Student.”

She went on to serve five decades for UT and the UT System, beginning in the Texas Union and ultimately rising to a senior vice presidency for the full University.

A chorus of the men who have led UT over the years, beginning with current president Bill Powers, expressed sadness over Perry’s death on Wednesday. Each praised Perry for her capable work and sound judgment.

When Martin Luther King Jr. visited campus in 1962, it was Perry who arranged for him to stay overnight in the Texas Union; she wanted to avoid any possibility that he would meet hostility at a downtown hotel.

Former presidents Peter Flawn and Larry Faulkner were among those who said they trusted her completely.

“She was creative, strategic, and capable — a special person who embodied the soul of this special place,” Powers wrote in a message to members of the UT community.

“Personally,” he added, “I will always be grateful for the advice and encouragement she has given me throughout my presidency, and for the trust I could place in her instincts and vast knowledge of the history and inner workings of this great institution.”

A memorial service for Shirley Bird Perry will be held on Monday at 2 p.m. in the LBJ Library Auditorium.

UT has created a place to share memories of Perry here.


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