Letter from the Executive Director: All of Us

Sometimes a school like UT can feel a little too big. There are lots of people at the Texas Exes and on the university’s staff who spend their days trying to make a massive institution feel smaller and less overwhelming. But there have been so many days in this pandemic when I found comfort in the sheer size of our alma mater and its reach, knowing there were hundreds of thousands of Longhorn alumni, faculty, and students working to change the world.  

Just as Clorox wipes, toilet paper, and food staples became scarce in the early days of the pandemic, two UT students spent nearly a week coding a website, instok.org, that would help people find the items they needed at a store near them.  

The university’s chemistry department sent cases and cases of face masks, gloves, scrub pants, and booties to local hospitals where PPE was in short supply.   

A Life Member in Hays County named Trey Williams, BA ’93, loaded the back of his SUV with donations for students, families, and employees who were going hungry without access to free meals at public schools.   

Longhorn-run businesses like Siete Family Foods and Tito’s Homemade Vodka donated truckloads of hand sanitizer where it was needed most in the community; and Desert Door Distillery sent a stockpile of bottles to UTPD.    

Several chapters of the Texas Exes threw car parades for first responders in their area. Exhausted doctors, nurses, and hospital employees peered out their windows to find a line of Longhorns with signs of encouragement and thanks.   

Researchers on the Forty Acres worked around the clock in their labs and made enormous strides toward a COVID-19 vaccine.   

And 10,000 alumni and students stampeded onto our new networking platform called HookedIn to offer their wisdom and to help fellow Longhorns looking for work and career advice.    

I could go on and on. Everywhere we look there is a burnt-orange effort to fill a gap or meet a need that we never imagined we’d have. And because we are many, because we have this mighty network of people who have a shared connection to a place that represents the best of what people can be, Longhorn Nation has never felt more valuable—or more like a home. This challenge may be far from over, but when we finally look back I know we’ll be proud of how we did our part—together. If you know of them, keep sending stories like the ones above to alcalde@texasexes.org. We won’t want to forget them.   

Hook ’em, 

Chuck Harris
BBA ’86, Life Member

[Photo: A group of UT Austin alumni who make up part of the COVID-19 nursing unit at Methodist Healthcare System’s main hospital in San Antonio in May 2020.]


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