Letter from the Executive Director: Power in Numbers

Life Membership scrolls hanging in the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center.

As you can see on the cover, the Texas Exes is rounding the corner on a major milestone. This spring, we will officially hit 100,000 Life Members. And this whole exercise in commemoration has made us all stop and think: Where would we be without our Life Members?

I’m No. 44,977, which puts me somewhere in the middle of a long line of Longhorns who have joined to show their pride since 1910. You can read all about how the program came to be in Eliza Pillsbury’s feature story called “The Same Token.”

The thing I find interesting is there are alumni associations out there that are abandoning their version of a lifetime membership. Rather than asking graduates to join and spending all those marketing dollars on campaigns, they are moving to an annual giving model. It’s a logical move for some.  

Luckily, this association had great stewards with the foresight to invest 90 percent of every Life Member’s dues—and so, every year around this time, when we are sitting down to plan our budget for the upcoming year, we have a foundation of support that never wavers. In fact, 23 percent of our operating costs are covered by that special endowment. The money that was given all those years ago by Life Member No. 1 (more about him in the story) now lives on with the dues of the newest Life Members we’re welcoming on page 64 of this very issue.  

And it’s not just about the money—it’s about who we aspire to be. Membership has a special significance at The University of Texas. It’s part of our identity as Longhorns. We take the extra step and sign up as card-carrying, keytag-flashing, bumper-sticker-loving Life Members. Maybe we’re a little “extra,” as the kids say. But we always have been and always will be.  

As you flip through this issue searching for that darn squirrel, take special notice of the people throughout with “Life Member” written next to their name. It’s always significant, but perhaps especially so when we are thinking about this big moment. To all 100,000 of you: Thank you for your dedication to our alma mater. We’ll make sure it’s never forgotten.  

Hook ’em,

Chuck Harris, BBA ’86, Life Member 

Executive Director & CEO, the Texas Exes


CREDIT: Matt Wright-Steel


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