A University of the First Class: James R. Huffines

On the occasion of the Alcalde’s 100th anniversary, we asked Longhorns what “a University of the first class” means to them.

A University of the First Class

James R. Huffines

BS ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus
President & CEO of PlainsCapital Corporation

UT has always been embroiled in the changing winds of politics. After Mirabeau Lamar first articulated a clear vision to create The University of Texas, it took 45 years to make it happen. Today, our University is recognized by numerous rankings as one of the top universities in the world. Anti-intellectual, anti-research, and anti-academic forces have been there for decades—but UT has always continued to prosper and grow.

Currently, we are experiencing a major challenge in governance from those who seek to weaken the University’s prestige, respect, and rankings. It is very unfortunate and unnecessary.

This same type of challenge to our commitment of building excellence on our campus seems to occur every 30-40 years. In 1917, Governor Pa Ferguson vetoed the entire UT legislative appropriation because the Board refused to fire several faculty members. At that point in time there were two regents, George Littlefield and George Brackenridge, who stepped up and offered to personally fund the entire budget until the situation could be resolved. We also experienced similar meddling and inadequate governance in the 1940s and early 1970s.

Without a doubt UT has achieved the status of a university of the first class. But it will take the collective courage, vision, and support from the expansive UT family to continue our march forward.

Read more takes on the phrase “a University of the first class” here.

Illustration by Sean McCabe.


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