Rethinking the Status Quo

Making major strides in fundraising, graduation rates, and innovation is business as usual at UT-Austin.

Rethinking the Status Quo

One of the main talking points for those who would have us believe The University of Texas needs drastic change is the notion that the University is intent on preserving the “status quo.” In a sense, they are right. But at UT-Austin, the “status quo” has been the relentless pursuit of excellence in teaching and research.

The numbers say it all. Our alma mater has earned worldwide recognition with its listing as the world’s 25th best university, according to the London-based Times Higher Education. The Center for World University Rankings lists us 26th. According to U.S. News & World Report, 59 UT-Austin programs rank in the top 10, and 111 programs are in the top 25. A recent ranking found that UT alumni are among the most employable graduates in the world. And on the issue of cost, which continues to be a favorite soundbite of higher-education commentators, UT-Austin is regarded by Kiplinger’s as a best value. Little wonder then the record number of applicants.

In September, UT announced a record-setting fundraising total for the previous year, an astonishing $454 million raised. There are few ways that people affirm an institution more powerfully than with their money, and last year more alumni and friends did so than ever before. Scholarship money provided to students by the Texas Exes was a part of this important endeavor.

Our president, Bill Powers, brought enormous credit to our school by assuming the chairmanship of the Association of American Universities, the most prestigious group of universities in North America. We have a new provost in Greg Fenves, who, along with his predecessor Steve Leslie, is spearheading the development of the Dell Medical School, which will be the first new medical school at a Tier 1 university in decades. People around the country are watching UT and expecting that the medical school will set the standard for 21st-century medical education, interdisciplinary research, and technology commercialization.

The University has embraced change as well. As a result of the recommendations of the Commission of 125, the administration has initiated enhancements to the undergraduate experience like the award-winning Freshman Research Initiative. The University’s four-year graduation rate is also a focus, and the faculty and staff are hard at work on a plan to get to 70 percent by 2017. And as reflected in a recent New York Times article, UT-Austin is at the forefront of advancements in blended and online learning.

There’s always more work to be done, but one thing is clear: Our mission remains the same. The University of Texas at Austin is and will continue to be a university of the first class. As long as that’s the status quo, the Texas Exes will keep working to defend it.

Charles Matthews
President, Texas Exes

Photo courtesy Thinkstock.


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