The University of Texas at Austin Presidential Citations for 2012 recognize two staff members who have built university units into nationally recognized leaders and two alumni whose contributions in leadership, effort and philanthropy have strengthened the university.
Citations will be awarded to Jay Boisseau, director of the Texas Advanced Computing Center; Barbara White, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work; and alumni leaders and philanthropists John Massey and Charles Tate.
Bill Powers, president of the university, will present the Presidential Citations and other major university awards in a ceremony March 7.
The Presidential Citation was created in 1979 to recognize the extraordinary contributions of individuals who personify the university’s commitment to transforming lives. They salute those whose service exemplifies the values shared by the university community. The university does not award honorary degrees.
Boisseau and White have been in charge of very different units, but both led those units to national prominence.
Boisseau, who has led the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) since 2001, has worked with colleagues around campus to build TACC into a leader and innovator in the supercomputing world.
The center operates several of the most powerful supercomputers and visualization systems in the world. These systems have enabled researchers in fields as diverse as microbiology, cosmology and the arts to push the frontiers of their disciplines.
The number of TACC employees has increased from a dozen to more than 100 staffers and students, deepening the university’s expertise in high-performance computing.
Boisseau is one of the leaders in the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment project, the most powerful and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world. The project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
TACC is revving up for a new NSF-awarded high-performance computing system, Stampede, in January 2013, which is expected to be valued at more than $50 million. Its peak performance will be 20 times as powerful as TACC’s current flagship system, Ranger, which marked the largest NSF award in the university’s history.
Boisseau earned his master’s and doctor’s degrees in astronomy from The University of Texas at Austin where his interest in high-performance computing was stimulated by his research on modeling the dynamics of supernovae. He received his undergraduate degree in astronomy from the University of Virginia.
At the School of Social Work, White became the university’s first African American dean when she was appointed to the post in 1993. She stepped down in 2011.
Under her leadership, the school has become a recognized leader in social work education, rising in U.S. News and World Report rankings of the nation’s best graduate programs in social work from 14th in 1995 to sixth currently.
The school has doubled its enrollment to nearly 800, established a distinguished faculty of nationally known experts in social work research and practice areas, and developed a number of interdisciplinary collaborations within the university and with other institutions.
White served as president of two nationwide social work organizations. In 2009 she was selected as an inaugural board member and fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, a society of scholars and practitioners dedicated to achieving excellence.
She holds a Ph.D. in political science and a master’s degree in social work, both from Florida State University. Prior to joining The University of Texas at Austin, she was associate dean at the Florida State University College of Social Work.
As alumni leaders and philanthropists, Charles Tate and John Massey have set high standards.
Tate, an investment banker, has been involved with the university since receiving his undergraduate business degree in 1968. He is a life member of the Texas Exes and served on the Commission of 125, an advisory panel that sought to express a vision of how the university can best serve Texas and society during the next 25 years. He is chairman of the Department of Biomedical Engineering External Advisory Committee and serves on the board of UTIMCO, the investment organization for the University of Texas System.
He was elected to the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2007 he received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Texas Exes.
In 1999 Tate and business partner Tom Hicks purchased the diary of José Enrique de la Peña, a first-hand account by a Mexican soldier of the battle of the Alamo and the death of Davy Crockett, and donated it to the university. It is in the collection of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
Tate received an MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in 1972. He was at Morgan Stanley before starting the investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst. In 2002 he started his own private equity firm in Houston — Capital Royalty, which invests in the health care industry.
In their philanthropy, John and Elizabeth Massey have made contributions to the College of Education, the School of Law and the campus at large.
Massey, a University of Texas at Austin Law School graduate in 1966, has spent his professional life as an investor and executive in radio, television, banking and insurance. He is a trustee of the Law School Foundation and the University of Texas Foundation, and he is a lifetime member of the McCombs School of Business Advisory Council.
The Masseys’ contributions to the university include the Elizabeth Shatto Massey Award for Excellence in Teacher Education; a permanent endowment of scholarships for Colorado County students who attend the university and study to be teachers; a large gift to create three endowed merit scholarships for the new 40 Acres Scholarship Program; and the Elizabeth S. and John H. Massey Chancellor’s Excellence in Education endowment.
At the School of Law, they established the Massey Fund for the Study of Law, Innovation, and Capital Markets and the Massey Teaching Excellence Awards.
Massey received a bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University and an MBA from Cornell University.