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January 2 2017  Gene Powell and the T-Ring Reflection

 

Billy, after reading your article about the “T-Ring” I am very glad to have provided a little bit of your inspiration to write the article.  You are correct that achievements obtained early in life mean so much to all of us because those achievements form the foundation of who we are and what we can achieve in the future.  When you go forward and achieve other successes later in life those early successes are always the foundation of the later achievements.  Many times you have seen the devastation of a tornado, hurricane or explosion.  The house is gone but the concrete foundation is always there and intact!  No matter how we might stumble or fall when we look down at our right hand there is an indelible sign that we can get up, dust ourselves off, adjust our chin strap and succeed because we have done it before! 

When I read your article this morning I quickly ran through a mental list of my early successes in life and thought about how all of them led up to my T-Ring and how the T-Ring then led to numerous other achievements.  ....... I always wore a T-Ring on my right hand and that meant that I had earned that ring with four long, hard, brutal years of work........

When I first met Rick Perry in the fall of 2000 it was at Memorial Stadium and one of the first things he noticed was my T-Ring and he ask me about it.  That gave me the chance to tell him the story about my father being an Aggie and my “escaping” to the 40 Acres in the fall of 1964.  To this day that story remains a joke between the two of us and he always says “I was never impressed with Gene’s T-Ring but I WAS impressed that he was raised by an Aggie.  And I know that being raised by an Aggie is really what made him who he is today.”  That is all funny but it would not have made any impression on him without the T-Ring! 

And I know that I have told you that when I was sworn in as a Regent in the spring of 2009 it was very important to me that (a) I have my T-Ring on for the swearing in and (b) that Edith and Darrell be in attendance. ......   Since 1957 there have been approximately 90 regents at UT and to my knowledge only two of them earned a T-Ring.  And it so happens that both of us were from the class of 1964 and both of us ended up being Chairman.  Tom Loeffler and me. 

 

October 2016 Inductee Gene Powell

The Hall of Fame award is the highest honor given by the McCombs School of Business.

 It recognizes individuals for their exemplary work in many areas including civic, educational, and philanthropic activities, as well as making outstanding professional contributions to the business and educational community. 

William Eugene (Gene) Powell, BBA '68, MBA '70, is an innovator, community leader, and longtime supporter of education. He is currently the chief executive officer of Bitterblue, Inc., a real estate development company. In 2004, he co-founded the medical software company AirStrip Technologies. He served a six-year term on The University of Texas System Board of Regents from February 2009 through March 2015 and served as chairman of the board from February 8, 2011 through August 22, 2013. Powell is a member of the Real Estate Council, the Greater San Antonio Builders Association, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Chamber of Commerce of San Antonio, and is a National Council Member of the Aspen Music Festival and School. He is the founder of the Responsible Growth Alliance and has served on the Executive Committees of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Los Compadres de la Missiones, as well as the Executive Board of the Witte Museum in San Antonio.

 

The Two Quotes In The Banner Above, Capture The Essence Of This Forward Thinking UT Leader.

As of today Gene continues to change things to how they should be not like they are.

Gene presently is on the Alamo Endowment Board. The boards mission is to preserve and protect the Shrine of Texas Liberty. A noble and worth goal.  To learn more about the Alamo Endowment please visit the link below. 

http://alamoendowment.org/oldsite/AEOnlineContributionForm.pdf

 

 

 

 

Gene Powell Left His Hometown Of Weslaco To Attend UT On A Football Scholarship. The Former Linebacker And Defensive End Still Proudly Wears A “T” Ring Given Him By Legendary Coach Darrell Royal.  

 

 

   

        

 

Gene Says That His Appreciation Of The Power Of Education Was Fostered When He Saw People Who Were Economically Disadvantaged Go On To Become Lawyers, Doctors, And Bankers.  Ricardo Romo, President Of UT-San Antonio Who Lived At Moore Hill Hall With Gene Said " Gene Was One Of The Studious Guys, And  "We'd Run Into Each Other Going To The Library Or An 8 O'clock Class." Romo  Said He Has Always Had An “ Upbeat, Nose-To-The-Grindstone Approach”  To Life , And His Present Tenacious Commitment To UT As Chairman Of The Board Of Regents Is “Vintage Powell”.

In An Article Written By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz At The Austin American Statesman On March 4th , 2011 Gene Says “We Have To Remember. ... It's Always About The Students". "We Have Some Challenges, But We Should Not Talk About Them In Draconian Terms. They're Simply Challenges." The New Leader Wants To Focus On Improving The Quality Of Education, Increasing Enrollment, And Graduation Rates, Ramping Up Online Learning And Expanding Commercialization Of Technology Invented On Campuses-All While Reducing Costs.

In An Article In The Atlantic Monthly By Ben Wildavsky Written 20 Months After The Statesman Article Gene’s Vision Is In Full Bloom.  The Article Dated November 2012 Ask The Question “What Sort Of Populist Liberal Firebrand Would Set Out To Slash Tuition, Prioritize Undergraduate Instruction Over University Research, And Push To Enroll More Low-Income, First-Generation  Students”?  In Fact, “He’s A Conservative Republican Appointed By Governor Rick Perry “.  “Powell Has Emerged As A Champion Of The Movement To Rethink How Colleges Can Operate Creatively-And, With A Boost From Education Technology, Cheaply.  He Called For Halving Tuition While Expanding Enrollment. And, Echoing A Proposal Made By Governor Perry, Powell A Real-Estate Developer And Tech Entrepreneur, Wants The System To Establish A Degree That Costs $10,000 For All Four Years.”  

 

 

 

Because Of Gene's Progressive Vision The Atlantic Monthly Named Him One Of The "Brave Thinkers" For 2012.

 

AS OCCURS WITH ANYONE WHO IS IN A LEADERSHIP POSITION AT A MAJOR UNIVERSITY, GENE'S CHANGES WERE CHALLENGED BY PROMINENT UT EXES AND POWERFUL POLITICAL FIGURES WHO WANTED ANSWERS TO LEGITIMATE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF HIS VISION. 

Regardless Of All The Internal Political Battles At UT, By The Time Jennifer R. Lloyd Wrote An Article In The San Antonio Express On August 23rd, 2013 That States  “ Under Powell's Reign, The Regents Made Significant Progress Toward Creating A New University In The Rio Grande Valley That Will Have Its Own Medical School, Adding A Medical School To The Flagship University, Exploring The Frontier Of Online Education And Approving Projects For UTSA And San Antonio's UT Health Science Center”. 

Red  McCombs Said “I Don't Know Of Anybody In That Short Period Of Time That's Created As Much Change As He Has As A Leader.”  

 

   Gene Powell's top 12 accomplishments as Chairman of the Board of Regents. 

Number 1

GENE WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THE WRITING OF THE CHANCELLOR’S FRAMEWORK FOR EXCELLENCE AND APPROVAL BY THE BOARD IN AUGUST OF 2011.  AS CHAIRMAN IN THE SPRING OF 2011 HE ENCOURAGED THE CHANCELLOR TO WRITE A PROGRAM FOR REFORMING HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE UT SYSTEM. HE CONSULTED WITH, ENCOURAGED AND SUPPORTED THE CHANCELLOR’S WORK ON THIS PROJECT AND WAS ONE OF THE EDITORS ON THE WRITING AND RE-WRITING OF THE PLAN.  TODAY THE FRAMEWORK IS 99% IMPLEMENTED ACROSS THE SYSTEM .  THE FRAMEWORK HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED NATIONALLY, AND BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AS THE LEADING DOCUMENT, ON THE REFORM OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN AMERICA.  AND THE FRAMEWORK WAS SUPPORTED UNANIMOUSLY BY THE BOARD, THE SYSTEM, THE PRESIDENTS OF ALL 15 INSTITUTIONS, THE TEXAS EXES, THE COALITION FOR EXCELLENCE AND NATIONALLY KNOWN EDUCATORS.  THIS COLLABORATION WITH CHANCELLOR CIGARROA AND SUPPORT OF CHANCELLOR CIGARROA WAS GENE'S  FIRST MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS CHAIRMANSHIP AND THE CHANCELLOR’S FRAMEWORK LAID THE GROUNDWORK FOR ALMOST EVERY ACCOMPLISHMENT THAT CAME AFTER THE FRAMEWORK WAS ADOPTED. (NOTE: NUMEROUS KEY POINTS OF THE FRAMEWORK CAME OUT OF THE EXEMPLARY WORK DONE BY THE  FIRST TWO TASK FORCE GROUPS GENE NAMED IN THE FEBRUARY OF 2011.  TASK FORCE ON BLENDED AND ONLINE LEARNING CHAIRED BY REGENT HALL AND TASK FORCE ON EXCELLENCE AND PRODUCTIVITY CHAIRED BY REGENT PEJOVICH.)

 

 Number 2

 

The Establishment Of The New University Of Texas – Rio Grande Valley (UT-RGV): 

This New University Was Brought Into Existence By The Chairman And Chancellor When They Developed And Presented To The Board And Then The Legislature A Plan That, Ultimately, Received A Unanimous Vote In The Texas House And In The Texas Senate During The 2013 Session.  The New University Will Open Its Doors To Students In September 2015 And The Initial Enrollment Will Be Close To 30,000.  UT-RGV Will Immediately Be The Second Largest Hispanic Serving University In America And Within Five To Ten Years It Is Projected To Be The Largest Hispanic Serving University In America.  For The First Time In 85 Years The UT System Can Use PUF Money In The RGV.  During The First Year Of Developing The New University The Board Allocated $354 Million Dollars To UT-RGV.

Number 3

The Establishment Of A New Medical School Associated With UT-RGV (Rio Grand Valley) Along With The Establishment Of Over 150 Residency Slots In The RGV: Today Texas Has 200 Doctors For Every 100,000 Citizens.  In The RGV That Ratio Is 100 Doctors For Every 100,000 Citizens.    Over The Next Ten Years It Is Projected That The New RGV Medical School Will Produce 1,000 Doctors For South Texas. This New Medical School Will Not Only Bring The Opportunity To Study Medicine At An Accredited UT Medical School To The Door Steps Of South Texas Students But Will Also Dramatically Improve The Healthcare And Health Of The Citizens Of South Texas.   The RGV Is One Of The Poorest Areas Of The Nation And The Citizen Leadership And Legislative Leadership Of South Texas Has Tried For Over 30 Years To Establish A Medical School In South Texas.  The Efforts Of The South Texas Leaders Was Herculean In Scope And Intensity But They Needed Partners And Advocates At The UT System To Help Them Bring The Medical School To Reality.  The Chairman And The Chancellor Provided South Texas The Two Partners And Advocates They Needed.   This Medical School Was Brought Into Existence By The Chairman And The Chancellor Developing A Plan That Was Unanimously Approved By Both Houses Of The Texas Legislature And Signed Into Law By Governor Perry. 

Number 4

                                                                                                     Texas Monthly 

The establishment of a new medical school (now known as the Dell Medical School) at UT Austin and providing $334M in funding for this medical school:  There is only one university ranked in the top ten in American universities that does not have a medical school.  That one university is Cal Berkeley.   If UT Austin is to become a top ten university it must have a medical school.  As Chairman Gene  made the new medical school a priority and worked with the Chancellor, the Legislature, the Board and the City of Austin to bring it to reality.  This is the first medical school to be built at an AAU university in over 50 years.  When the teaching and research at this new medical school is paired with and partnered with the great teaching and research at UT Austin the synergy is going to be dynamic and exciting.  This new collaboration between students, faculty and researchers will change the world.

Number 5

Over the past four years the Board has held tuition flat across the entire nine UT academic institutions:  This makes a college degree more affordable for the students of Texas.  My goal as Chairman was to make a college education at the UT Academic institutions more accessible, more affordable all while maintaining and improving excellence.  While the cost of a college education has been rising steadily across the nation (and quite frankly in Texas) the Board’s decision to hold tuition flat for the past four years has gone a long way toward making a college education in Texas much more affordable.

 

Number 6

Encouraged our institutions to dramatically grow enrollment. As stated in No. 5. above making a college education more accessible was one of my goals.   UT Tyler now has a goal of doubling enrollment, UTPB has a goal of doubling enrollment, UT Arlington has grown from 26K enrollment to over 40K enrollment while holding tuition flat for seven years, UT-RGV will make it possible to eventually grow enrollment in the RGV to between 40K and 50K students, UT Dallas is now over 20K and continuing to grow, UTSA is at 30,000 and the Board and System are attempting to help UTSA grow beyond that level, UTEP is approaching 20,000 and plans are to further grow enrollment.  There are several strategies being used to increase enrollment while holding the cost down but probably the most IMPACT-FULL program is the dramatic growth of online courses at these institutions and this was done at the encouragement and insistence of the Chairman.  UT Austin has resisted enrollment growth but with proper management enrollment can be grown at the flagship without taxing our resources.  Note:  Please see the information below in #7. concerning the development and funding of the Institute for Transformational Learning (the ITL)and the information in #10.a. below concerning the Blended and Online Learning Task Force appointed by the Chairman in February of 2011.  The ITL was an idea conceived by the members and Chairman of this Task Force and recommended to the Chairman and the Board.

Gene with the leadership of MD Anderson

Number 7

The Institute For Transformational Learning (the ITL):  As noted above (in item #1. and item #6.) the ITL was an idea that came from one of the Chairman’s first two Task Forces.  And upon the recommendation of the Task Force and the Chairman the BOR funded the ITL with $50M to support the development and growth of blended and online learning on all our UT campuses.  In addition and as an added benefit of implementing  IT in October of 2012 the UT System was invited to join Harvard, MIT and Berkeley in the edXpartnership to develop MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). The UT System was (a) the first public university asked to join this group and (b) the first “System” ask to join this group.  The UT System came to the attention of Harvard, MIT, and Berkeley because of the publicity surrounding the formation of the ITL and the funding of $50M approved by the Board.  Today the first nine MOOCs are up on the edX website and they were developed by UT Austin with financial assistance from the ITL.  The ITL department at the System will support, encourage and fund growth in well designed and effective online programs, classes and professional designation courses.  Using the tools promoted by the ITL will provide the students in Texas greater and more flexible access to higher education in Texas.  In addition the power of our MOOCs will spread our brand around the globe.  And in addition to our MOOCs the ITL is assisting all the UT institutions with the development of effective online learning programs which will eventually become the “best-in-class” programs in American colleges.

Number 8

The establishment in 2011 of the UTS Horizon Fund with $10M provided by the Regents:  This money was invested in products and concepts developed by entrepreneurial students and professors.  Thus the UT System has used this money to become Angel Investors for these students and faculty in an effort to jump-start these products and concepts, build startup businesses and get the products or concepts to market.  This program has been so successful and the System’s Return on Investment so strong that the Regents invested another $12.5 million in the Horizon Fund in 2013. 

 

 

Number 9

Transparency and accountability in higher education at the UT System has been encouraged and supported by the following measures adopted during Chairman Powell’s tenure.  Most of these measures are “first in the Nation” efforts by the UT System.  And most of these measures are now being adopted by other Systems and Universities around the country:

a.       The UT System Productivity Dashboard.  This public website provides instant access to a huge range of data about our fifteen institutions with a simple click of the mouse.  Students, parents, legislators, citizens and the press can access this data 24/7.  The amount and kinds of data available on this website is constantly growing and expanding.   Access the data at www.data.utsystem.edu

b.       Public Information Request:  All UT institutions now have online databases of public information request that are up-to-date and accessible by the public.  If you want to see what public information request have been made and who made the request of any UT institution you can find that information at www.utsystem.edu/open-records/institutional-open-records-information

c.       Conflicts of Interest data base: Regents rule 30301 has strengthened conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policies for all employees of the UT System.  The UT System is now a national leader in this area.  Shortly these conflicts data bases on all employees will be accessible to the public at the UT website.

d.       Reducing Student Debt:  Student debt is now larger in America than credit card debt.  The UT System has put together a program on the website that allows parents and students to compute the cost of higher education at UT institutions and the cost of financing their educations.  We believe that better informed students and parents will make better decisions about financing the college education.  You can view this information at www.utsystem.edu/affordability/.

e.       Research Data Repository:  Through a secure database faculty from all 15 UT System institutions can now review research being done on other UT campuses so that they can collaborate and even pursue grants together.  This data base will improve collaboration and decrease the cost of some research by allowing researchers to work together on similar projects.

f.        Seek UT:  Given that traditional revenue streams in higher education are declining across the country, and the cost of getting an education is increasing, it is critical for students, along with their families, to make informed decisions about their academic careers. The UT System has developed this website and complementary online tool that provide valuable data about employment earnings for the first five years after graduation, as well as average student loan debt, for graduates by degree major.  This is one of the most exciting new websites that has come out of the “Transparency and Accountability” initiatives started by Chairman Powell and Chancellor Cigarroa.  You can explore this site at http://www.utsystem.edu/seekut/homepage.htm

Number 10

Chairman Powell established five major Task Forces, staffed by Regents to ensure best practices across the UT System:

a.       Task Force on Blended and Online Learning:  The information gather by this task force became the foundation and basis for over 45% of the Framework for Advancing Excellence.  The information gathered by this task force also provided the foundation for the establishment of the Institute for Transformation Learning discussed in #7 above.

b.       Task Force on University Excellence and Productivity:  Charged with reviewing the efficiency and productivity of the UT System academic institutions while as the same time increasing the quality of education and maintaining excellence across the System.  Work produced by this task force provided another 45% of the basis for the Framework for Advancing Excellence.

Chancellor Cigarroa and Chairman Powell

c.       Task Force on Employee/Student Relationships:  Charged with reviewing and making recommendations on issues surrounding inappropriate relationships between employees and students at all UT System institutions and reviewing all existing programs directed at preventing sexual abuse, sexual harassment and sexual misconduct to ensure a safe, healthy environment for students.  The report from this task force provided the basis for the writing of a program to establish a System wide policy on how we expect our institutions to handle these situations.

d.       Advisory Task Force on Best Practices Regarding University-Affiliated Foundation Relationships:  Seek out national experts on how to build better and more appropriate relationships with foundations that support our universities and medical institutions.

e.       Task Force on Engineering Education for the 21st Century:  Charge with reviewing and identifying key issues related to demand, capacity, efficiency, supply and research related to engineering programs in the state of Texas; how these issues impact Texas and the nation; and what the UT System can do to be most responsive to the engineering needs of the state.

Number 11

The funding of the $400+M engineering building at UT Austin by the Board of Regents and the encouragement of UT Austin to increase enrollment by approximately 1,000 students in the engineering program at UT Austin.

Number 12

The delivery to UT Austin of almost one half billion dollars in excess of the steady state funding normally provided by the UT System.  The goal the Chairman had in encouraging this substantial additional funding was to help increase the chances for UT Austin to become more accessible, more affordable while maintaining excellence and moving toward a top ten ranking.