Introduction

Aerial View of the University of Texas Campus

Aerial view of the UT Austin Campus from 1940. Photo by Neal Douglass.

In 2001, Walter Cronkite coined the phrase, “What starts here changes the world,” describing the very ideal that guides the University of Texas at Austin to this day. Then, a UT representative said in tandem to Cronkite that the University of Texas is the “heartbeat of this City of Ideas, where everyone is a student of both our proud heritage as well as a seeker of what’s next.” Furthermore, there have been key figures within the university's history who have embodied excellence and, thus, shaped the proud heritage that defines the University of Texas at Austin.

This exhibit highlights key figures that have exemplified this change throughout the University’s history. By analyzing long-forgotten publications, individual correspondences, and personal narratives found in the campus archives, these key figures bridged gaps, created change, and helped to define the heritage in which students still participate today.

Our findings suggest these gaps were filled by various actors within the University's network. This network consists of more than any one group of people, each contributing to the university operations in their respective ways. In this exhibit, we break this network down into the institutional, faculty, student, and alumni efforts made to enrich student experiences and create change in every corner of the Forty Acres. Within each of these categories, we highlight some people who worked both within and beyond the official university channels to offer greater support to underserved students. We anticipate future contributions to this exhibit that might highlight others from the past and even those at present who have filled gaps in an effort to change the world.

Credits: Ryan C. Adams, Milena Djordjevic-Kisacanin, Sean Hart, Poonum Mehta, Claire Zurovec