In a night that included legendary names in the world of college football, Texas head football coach Mack Brown was honored with The Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at a dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin on Friday (May 16).
Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno gave the keynote address, NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann was the emcee and legendary coach Darrell Royal was in attendance.
The Chair will be part of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, a university-wide global affairs research center named for renowned lawyer and public servant, Ambassador Robert S. Strauss. The center is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.
"Having this chair named for coach Brown is absolutely fitting," said University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. "He is somebody who puts education first. He is a teacher. He is a teacher who builds character, goal setting and discipline. Coaching is not just Xs and Os, and coach Paterno is renowned for that as well. Student-athletes get the whole experience when they're on campus, so they can build on those experiences and go on and have great careers in whatever their chosen field is."
The dinner helped move toward the goal of raising $2 million to endow the Chair. UT Athletics contributed $500,000 to the Chair as part of a $2.65 million gift made to the university for academic programs.
"Tonight, we're so fortunate to have a night about 'good,' to have a night of trying to continue to help Texas be involved in things greater than just the state of Texas or just this university, but globally," Brown said.
"When I was approached about the chair, I was really overwhelmed, because globalization with leadership is much bigger than wins and losses on Saturday. It is important that a 100-year football program gets recognition for education. We are trying to bridge the gap between athletics and education, and there's no better way to do that to help raise money for recognition to a program that's in a building named for Lyndon Johnson, whom I admire so much and has done so much to change our world."
Brown also recognized the importance of Paterno being in attendance as the speaker, representing both a mentor and friend at the forefront of giving back to his university and to education.
"When you start looking at who you want to be like, they didn't ask me whom they would call, they called Joe Paterno," Brown said. "I was just excited, not only because he's a friend, but Sally and I admire coach and Sue more than anyone, because they're doing it right, they're giving back and they're winning games."
Paterno echoed Brown's sentiments on the importance of the Chair and the importance of preparing for an increasingly global community.
"I think it's a great honor for me to come here and participate in something that I think is so significant, not only for the university and the state of Texas, but I think we're all in agreement that we have a tremendous challenge ahead of us, as far as how we're going to compete in a global world," Paterno said. "I think Mack praised me with some things, but I share so much of his values. He and Sally have become good friends to Sue and myself, and I've admired him for a long time."
Brown becomes one of a very few college football coaches in history to be endowed with a Chair, which is a gift that provides permanent support for a university. It is invested, and each year a distribution is made to a designated program. Endowments are crucial to a university's efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers and researchers.
"I think what President Powers and The University of Texas and Mack Brown are doing here is absolutely tremendous," Swann said. "What Joe Paterno has done at Penn State is absolutely phenomenal. If you look around our nation today and our sports landscape, there are a lot of coaches who talk about the benefit of sports and what it teaches young people, but too many of them talk about it and not enough of them do something about it.
"These two men have backed up their words with great deeds. It's because they take care of their football teams and they treat each player like their own child. They don't talk to them like they're just kids coming to play football and go through the program. Their wives are engaged in the whole program, and it's an extended family to them. When you have that kind of concern and dedication backed up by good deeds, I think you have a great outcome."
The Mack Brown Chair will be designated to bring the highest profile leaders in global policymaking to the university to inspire and instruct its students to better meet the global challenges the United States and the world will face in future decades.
"It's about helping part of our university continue to change the world," Brown said. "As we all know, the youth in our country will see a much different world than we did. I've had a great 56 years. They couldn't have been any better. I was just spoiled absolutely rotten by the parents I had and the advantages I had in life. We just want to make sure our family can do a small part to ensure that for our kids and grandkids."