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WATCH: Brené Brown and UT Austin President Fenves Talk About Coping with Coronavirus Changes, Including Postponed Commencement

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AUSTIN, Texas — The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the academic experience for students at The University of Texas at Austin and around the country. Many Longhorns are grappling with a sense of loss as they self-isolate from their community on the Forty Acres.

To help ease student concerns, UT Austin President Greg Fenves met online with internationally acclaimed researcher, author, and 2020 commencement speaker Brené Brown to clarify new commencement plans and invite her to participate in a virtual commencement in May and a full array of in-person graduation ceremonies later this year.

Brown, a UT alumna, visiting professor at the McCombs School of Business, and research professor at the University of Houston, agreed and gave students heartfelt advice as they navigate this challenging time.

“It’s ok to be angry and frustrated about how things are turning out right now because grief is the price we pay for love,” Brown said. “And we love the Forty Acres. We love our friendships, we love our communities, we love our classes, we love being together… It’s ok to grieve how much we miss the normalcy of our life in Austin at UT right now, and also hold at the same time that a lot of other people probably have it worse than us right now. We can do both.”