AUSTIN, Texas —On Oct. 4, members of the University community will have an opportunity to hear one of the most influential figures in American public life: Gen. Colin Powell, U.S.A. (Ret.)
Many in the audience will have heard stories about Powell’s courage, strength, leadership and commitment to civil service. What those attending the event may not realize is that Powell’s visit is organized, managed and funded almost entirely by students.
Composed of representatives from eight campus organizations, the Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship Committee (SECL) began planning the event last September when they began polling students about potential speakers. After gathering almost 2,000 responses, Powell’s name emerged as a top contender.
The group began doing such work in 1983, when students and faculty created the committee as a gift to future members of the University community to commemorate the institution’s 100th birthday. Originally, it was funded by an optional student fee, known as “Dollar for a Scholar,” that helped bring guests ranging from Sandra Day O’Connor to Tommy Lee Jones to campus. The group became inactive seven years ago, but some students are giving SECL a second breath of life.
“It’s been hard work, but the results will be worth it,” says Ted Bosquez, a government major and the committee’s chair.
Powell plans to focus on the importance of community service and volunteerism during two different events, first a question-and-answer session with a classroom of 300 students, then an evening lecture in Bass Concert Hall open to every member of the University community. During the last talk, a University student representative will present Powell with a red wagon (the symbol of his charity) to celebrate UT Austin becoming a “University of Promise.” This designation, assigned through Powell’s charity, called America’s Promise, will celebrate the University’s continuing commitment to helping area youth.
“There is no better American than Colin Powell to emphasize the value of civic participation in our country,” said Tany Norwood, assistant to the dean of students who serves as the adviser to the SECL.
In selecting Powell, the SECL said his message coincides with the University’s mission “to transform lives for the benefit of society through the core values of learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity and responsibility.”
If his words can further stimulate the fulfillment of these values at an already altruistic University, his visit can truly be considered a success, committee members said.
Note: Colin Powell will speak on “America’s Promise” on Oct. 4th in Bass Concert Hall. Doors will open at 7:15 p.m., and the program will begin at 7:45 p.m. Tickets will be available to students, faculty and staff between noon and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Bass with a valid University ID. (Limit of two IDs per person). For more information, please visit the Web site at www.utexas.edu/students/secl