2021 was a year centered on coming together as a campus community. Filled with significant accomplishments, meaningful changes and a warm sense of togetherness as in-person classes resumed, this year has made our Longhorn community stronger.
Throughout the year, we encouraged all students, faculty members and staff members to get vaccinated and tested regularly to keep one another safe.
• Our COVID-19 vaccine rollout began in December 2020 and has continued throughout 2021. To date, UT health professionals have administered more than 147,000 doses. Make an appointment to get your vaccination.
• The fall semester kicked off with fall classes resuming in person, and we welcomed students back to the dorms during Mooov-In.
Research and innovation are at the core of UT’s mission, and this year our outstanding researchers and students worked on new ways to change the world.
• Researchers from MD Anderson and UT teamed up to advance breakthroughs in cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.
• UT engineers and scientists developed a way to extract lithium from contaminated water.
• Five UT student tech-focused startups were accepted into the global Blackstone LaunchPad & Techstars Spring Fellowship program for their novel and future-facing solutions.
• And UT student entrepreneurs launched Explorastay, a tech startup that helps renters find rentals around the world for one to 11 months.
This year, we cheered on so many of our Longhorn athletes both near and far.
• During the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics this past summer, current and former UT athletes competed and earned a total of nine medals, including five gold. If UT had competed as a separate country, it would have ranked 17th in the number of gold medals earned.
• The Longhorn spirit was in full effect as we welcomed back fans to full-capacity venues to experience UT Athletics games and matches.
• We unveiled the expansion of the south end zone at DKR stadium.
• We also welcomed a new head football coach, Steve Sarkisian, and a new men’s basketball head coach, Chris Beard.
• The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously voted to approve UT joining the Southeastern Conference in 2025.
Last year, UT committed to making changes to continue fostering a welcoming and diverse campus.
The Division of Diversity and Community Engagement put together a timeline of the campus changes made since the death of George Floyd. Some of the items highlighted in the timeline include:
• The UT Police Department launched a University Crisis Intervention Team, a special unit composed of several officers who specialize in de-escalating mental health incidents.
• The Black Studies Collective hosted a three-day event — State of Black UT — that explored the work UT has done, is doing and needs to do to create an inclusive campus.
• We announced that with new university funding allocated from UT Athletics’ revenue, the Department of African & African Diaspora Studies (AADS) will receive $250,000 ($1.25 million total) over the next five years to support graduate and postdoctoral students.
• We launched the Longhorns for Equity, Access and Diversity (LEAD) initiative, which gives participating students the opportunity to leverage university resources for the public good — providing sponsorship funding and community service work to the nonprofits of their choosing.
• And the Eyes of Texas History Committee presented its report to Longhorn Nation.
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Our students band together when things get tough, and this year was no different. After the devastating winter storm earlier this year, UT Austin and A&M Students created a joint fundraising campaign to help their peers recover from the disaster. Longhorns raised over $165,000.
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We had a lot to celebrate on the Forty Acres this year.
• UT was ranked as the No. 9 public U.S. university, the No. 1 university in Texas and the No. 1 school for veterans in Texas by the U.S. News & World Report.
• UT historian Monica Muñoz Martinez was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, also known as the genius grant. The award recognized her work to recover untold histories of racial violence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
• UT was one of five recipients of the 2021 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, an honor given by NAFSA: Association of International Educators for overall excellence in global engagement on campus.
• Ian W.D. Dalziel, a professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences, was awarded geology’s most prestigious career award, the Geological Society of America’s Penrose Medal, for pioneering discoveries about Earth’s ancient geography and its past supercontinents.
• The research-based initiative Project MALES, Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success, celebrated its 10th anniversary.
• We lit the Tower orange with a “50” on its side to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Latino studies department.
• Our leading supercomputing center marked two decades of powering discoveries.
• We resumed our universitywide, in-person commencement this year at the DKR stadium with an inspiring speech from Robert Iger, executive chairman and chairman of the board at The Walt Disney Co.
• And a special investiture ceremony was held in front of the UT Tower for the inauguration of our 30th president, Jay Hartzell. He also gave his State of the University address, explaining his vision for leading UT to become the world’s highest-impact public research university.
We can’t wait to see all of the amazing things our UT community takes part in during 2022. See you then. Hook ‘em!