AUSTIN, Texas — A committee of two dozen faculty scholars, students and alumni — including athletes and Longhorn Band representatives — has been charged with documenting the facts and chronicling the nearly 120-year history of “The Eyes of Texas” as part of The University of Texas at Austin’s commitment to fully own, acknowledge and teach about its school song.
The university announced in July that “The Eyes of Texas” will continue as its alma mater, and also recognized that not all community members are fully informed or agree about some aspects of the song’s origin. The Eyes of Texas History Committee’s mandate is directly related to acknowledging and bringing clarity to the full history of the song, including understanding its origin, its historical usage and its use in life events and popular media.
“This year, we have made important progress on efforts to become an even more welcoming and inclusive campus for all of our students, faculty, staff and alumni. These have ranged from changing the names on buildings and our field, to erecting physical symbols of our history and heroes, to investing more in recruiting top students from all backgrounds around Texas,” President Jay Hartzell said. “This committee will do what we do so well as a university — conduct research and teach — and will help us communicate about ‘The Eyes’ openly and transparently.”
Hartzell has appointed Professor Richard Reddick to chair the committee, which will complete its work by the end of January 2021. Reddick is associate dean for equity, community engagement and outreach in the College of Education. He is also a Texas Ex, co-founder of Texas Blazers, and a former member of the Silver Spurs, the student group that takes care of Bevo. Reddick earned a bachelor’s degree from UT’s Plan II Honors Program and was named a College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Distinguished Graduate.
“Leading this committee is an incredible honor. It’s something I take very seriously and with humility, because of my connection to the university as a student, a faculty member, an alum and a researcher in higher education,” said Reddick. “We will need to lean in to a conversation that can be difficult and that includes layers of nuance and historical pieces that we need to understand. I thank the committee members for taking on this challenging role, and Longhorn Nation for its support.”
Hartzell has issued four charges to the committee:
- Collect and document the facts of: the origin, the creators’ intent, and the elements of “The Eyes of Texas,” including the lyrics and music.
- Examine the university’s historical institutional use and performance of “The Eyes of Texas.”
- Chronicle the historical usage of “The Eyes of Texas” by University of Texas students, staff, faculty and alumni as well as its usage in broader cultural events such as film, literature and popular media.
- Recommend potential communication tactics and/or strategies to memorialize the history of “The Eyes of Texas.”
Hartzell previously announced that he will lead a campus-wide discussion in the coming months about UT’s shared values and culture. That will include conversations about how “The Eyes of Texas” can be part of a vision of the future that more fully unites the community.
The committee members reflect a broad array of scholarly and cultural interests related to understanding the song, including historians, student leaders, prominent alumni, admissions officers, alumni athletes, leaders of spirit organizations, and musicians. They were selected for their breadth of connections to the university, but are serving as individuals and not as representatives of their specific organizations.
In addition to Reddick, the members of the committee are:
H.W. Brands, Professor of History
Ricky Brown, Assistant Athletics Director, Director of T-Association
Don Carleton, Executive Director, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
Rick Church, Texas Ex and Longhorn Band alumnus
Quan Cosby, Texas Ex and former Longhorn football player
Jim Davis, Vice President for Legal Affairs
*Logan Eggleston, Longhorn Volleyball player; President, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee
Caroline Enriquez, Assistant Director of Recruitment Scholarships, Office of Admissions
Cloteal Davis Haynes, Texas Ex and President of The Precursors
Yolanda Hall, Texas Ex, President of the Black Alumni Network
*Kathleen Holloway, Communications Director, Graduate Student Assembly
Peniel Joseph, Professor, Department of History and LBJ School of Public Affairs
Sharon Justice, Former Associate Vice President and Dean of Students
*Anagha Kikkeri, Student Government President
Jim Nicar, Former Director, UT Heritage Society, and author of the UT History Corner
*Kyanna Richard, Longhorn Band member
Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, Professor of Journalism, Director of the Voces Oral History Project
Victor Saenz, Chair, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy
Cherise Smith, Chair, Department of African and African Diaspora Studies
*Courtney SoRelle, Captain of Spirit Squad
Ronnye Vargas Stidvent, Executive Director, Center for Women in Law
Andrew Vo, Texas Ex, Chief Human Resources Officer – Growth Markets at Accenture
Jenn Wang, Senior Director of International Advancement and Principal Gifts