Letter from the Executive Director: Public Figures

On Sept. 10, my Texas Exes colleagues and I were enjoying a change of scenery in our nation’s capital for Longhorns on the Hill, our big day of federal advocacy for The University of Texas. For the alumni who work in these historic halls, we brought proper breakfast tacos to provide a little taste of home. It’s the fifth year in a row we’ve come together in D.C. for conversation and healthy debate about the issues facing public higher education. And as a former CEO in the for-profit sector, it was refreshing to speak with lawmakers about a policy topic everyone can get behind—the promise of an accessible, first-class education for the young people of America.    

We went in flying the Texas flag and we were greeted by members of Congress who clearly wanted to make a difference. “I love higher education,” we heard over and over, “how can I help?”  

Most gratifying of all was listening to our volunteers tell their representatives what the university had meant to their lives and senior members of Congress sharing a similar story in return. UT Austin has a way of staying with you. Read more about the event on page 18 and see photos of the high-profile politicians who gave our advocates their valuable time and attention. (To learn more about our UT Advocates program, head here.)

And speaking of high-profile people, you may have noticed that the big man on campus is the Alcalde’s November|December cover star.  I say this whenever I have the chance: We have the best alumni on the planet. There is no other university with as many icons and leaders across virtually every field of endeavor. Matthew McConaughey is no exception. When it was announced that he had officially been appointed our “Minister of Culture,” I had a good laugh, but then quickly realized this guy is dead serious about this job. Sure, other places have celebrity alumni, but nowhere else has anything like what we have in McConaughey. And now UT has figured out a way to channel his unmatchable energy and talent into something that is game-changing. He really is part of our team—and part of our legacy. I can’t wait to see the M.O.C. make his mark on the Forty Acres. I hope you enjoy reading Chris O’Connell’s story, “Role of a Lifetime,” about how this all came to be.   

There is a common thread in the stories of these prominent alumni doing everything they can for UT. Fame is fleeting—but using your influence to give back to the place that shaped you, that’s the stuff of legend. 

Hook ’em,

Chuck Harris, BBA ’86, Life Member

Photograph by Matt Wright-Steel


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