2012 has been a year of historic significance on the Forty Acres. The university green-lighted a new medical school, defended its policies in the Supreme Court, captured two national championships, celebrated centennial milestones, bade farewell to beloved friends and saw myriad examples of its mission in action.
Longhorns competed in the Olympics, conducted innovative research related to energy, medicine, the drought and even the "end of the world." Our students got up close and personal in their research and studies, and our faculty shared their expertise on current events, including so many facets of this year's historic election.
The coming year will bring a Supreme Court decision about a key aspect of the university's admissions policies, foundation-building for a new medical school and a spirited state legislative session. But let's not get ahead of ourselves As we close 2012, let's take this opportunity to reflect on just some of the stories that exemplify why we're in the top 25 of world universities.
We've gathered together some of this year's highlights and milestones to remind us that at The University of Texas at Austin, what starts here changes the world.
The breadth of the university offers students so many opportunities for gaining hands-on experience.
- Law students made a pledge to do pro bono work, which took them to South Texas to help clients in colonias with legal issues related to protecting their property.
- Business undergraduates traveled to China to track products upstream through the supply chain, starting at an Austin Target store and ending up at Shenzhen factories.
- A group of women aerospace engineering students built and launched spacecraft measurement devices to the edge of space.
- LBJ students traveled to Africa to participate in groundbreaking research on the effect of climate change on political stability.
- Undergraduates around the university shared highlights of their experiences working with faculty on research in several fields.
As the university moves toward the reality of a medical school in Austin, faculty continue to carry out important medical research.
- Jon Pierce-Shimomura's work with worms may lead to new treatments for Parkinson's disease.
- Sharon Brown developed a diet and education plan for helping diabetes sufferers in the Rio Grande Valley better manage their disease.
- Lauren Ancel Meyers used supercomputers to create a toolkit for public health officials to prepare for flu and other epidemics.
The research done by UT faculty leads to real solutions, illuminates complex issues and provides a foundation for asking vital questions.
- Myths about the Maya calendar's doomsday predictions are busted by archeological research conducted by David Stuart.
- Karl Gebhardt discovered for the third time the biggest black hole in the universe, a doozy that weighs 17 billion times more than our Sun.
- Despite an increasingly homogenized "American" accent, Texans will continue to twang, according to research by Lars Hinrichs.
- Austin's Formula One racing event not only shone the spotlight on Longhorns involved in building the facility, it highlighted engineering advances through the speedy technology.
- Researchers found perhaps the only silver lining in the 2011 drought: five key lessons that could help us prepare for future water shortages.
- And speaking of preparing for future shortages, Scott Tinker's film "Switch" explores today's most pressing energy questions.
- Earle McBride found the beaches of Normandy hold evidence of their decisive World War II battles decades later.
We wished a fond farewell to dear friends this year, pausing to reflect on their service and contributions to the legacy of The University of Texas at Austin.
The School of Human Ecology, the Department of Accounting and the late legendary Lady Bird Johnson all celebrated centennials in 2012. And the men's golf and women's volleyball teams won national championships and hearty cheers from the Longhorn Nation.
In all, 2012 is sure to be remembered as a historic turning point for the university on multiple fronts. Here's to reaching even greater heights in 2013.