|The University of Texas at Austin|
|Motto||Disciplina praesidium civitatis (Latin)|
|Motto in English||Cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy|
|Established||September 15, 1883|
|Type||Flagship state university|
|President||William C. Powers, Jr.|
|Location||Austin, Texas, USA|
|Campus||Urban, 423.5 acres (1.714 km2)|
|Former names||The University of Texas|
|Colors||Burnt orange and white |
|Mascot||Bevo & Hook 'em</td></tr>|
The University of Texas at Austin (University of Texas, UT Austin, UT, or simply Texas) is a public research-intensive university located in Austin, Texas, United States. It is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. Founded in 1883, its campus is approximately 0.25 miles (400 m) from the Texas State Capitol in Austin. The institution has the fifth-largest single-campus enrollment in the nation, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.
The University of Texas at Austin was named one of the original eight Public Ivy institutions and was inducted into the American Association of Universities in 1929. The university is a major center for academic research, with research expenditures exceeding $640 million for the 2009–2010 school year. The university houses seven museums and seventeen libraries, including the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art, and operates various auxiliary research facilities, such as the J. J. Pickle Research Campus and the McDonald Observatory. Among university faculty are recipients of the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, the Wolf Prize, and the National Medal of Science, as well as many other awards.
UT Austin student athletes compete as the Texas Longhorns and are members of the Big 12 Conference. The university has won four NCAA Division I National Football Championships, and has claimed more titles in men's and women's sports than any other school in the Big 12 since the league was founded in 1996. Current and former UT Austin athletes have won 117 Olympic medals, including 14 in Beijing in 2008. The university was recognized by Sports Illustrated as "America's Best Sports College" in 2002.
The first mention of a public university in Texas can be traced to the 1827 constitution for the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas. Although an article promised to establish public education in the arts and sciences, no action was taken by the Mexican government. But after Texas obtained its independence from Mexico in 1836, the Congress of Texas adopted the Constitution of the Republic, which included a provision to establish public education in the republic, including two universities or colleges. On January 26, 1839, the Congress of Texas agreed to eventually set aside fifty leagues of land towards the effort; in addition, 40 acres (160,000 m2) in the new capital of Austin were reserved and designated "College Hill." (The term "Forty Acres" is colloquially used to refer to the University as a whole.)
In 1845, Texas was annexed into the United States of America. The state legislature passed the Act of 1858, which set aside $100,000 in United States bonds towards construction of a university. In addition, the legislature designated land, previously reserved for the encouragement of railroad construction, toward the universities' fifty leagues. But Texas's secession from the Union and the American Civil War prevented further action on these plans.
After the war, the 1862 Morrill Act facilitated the creation of what is now Texas A&M University, which was established in 1876 as the Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas. The Texas Constitution of 1876 mandated that the state establish a university "at an early day," calling for the creation of a "university of the first class," styled "The University of Texas." It revoked the endowment of the railroad lands of the Act of 1858 but appropriated 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km2) in West Texas. In 1883, another two million were granted, with income from the sale of land and grazing rights going to The University of Texas and Texas A&M.
In 1881, Austin was chosen as the site of the main university, and Galveston was designated the location of the medical department. On the original "College Hill," an official ceremony began construction on what is now referred to as the old Main Building in late 1882. The university opened its doors on September 15, 1883.
Expansion and growthEdit
The old Victorian-Gothic Main Building served as the central point of the campus's 40-acre (160,000 m2) site, and was used for nearly all purposes. But by the 1930s, discussions arose about the need for new library space, and the Main Building was razed in 1934 over the objections of many students and faculty. The modern-day tower and Main Building were constructed in its place.
In 1910, George Washington Brackenridge donated 500 acres (2.0 km2) on the Colorado River to the university . A vote by the regents to move the campus to the donated land was met with outrage, and the land has only been used for auxiliary purposes such as graduate student housing. Part of the tract was sold in the late-1990s for luxury housing, and there are controversial proposals to sell the remainder of the tract. The Brackenridge Field Laboratory was established on 82 acres (330,000 m2) of the land in 1967.
As a result of the controversy, in 1921, the legislature appropriated $1,350,000 for the purchase of land adjacent to the main campus. But expansion was hampered by the constitutional restriction against funding the construction of buildings. With the discovery of oil on university-owned grounds in 1923, the institution was able to put its new wealth towards its general endowment fund. These savings allowed the passing of amendments to make way for bond issues in 1931 and 1947, with the latter expansion necessary from the spike in enrollment following World War II. The university built 19 permanent structures between 1950 and 1965, when it was given the right of eminent domain. With this power, the university purchased additional properties surrounding the original 40 acres (160,000 m2).
During World War II, the University of Texas was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.
1966 shooting spreeEdit
On August 1, 1966, Texas student Charles Whitman barricaded the observation deck in the tower of the Main Building. With two rifles, a sawed-off shotgun and various other weapons, he killed 16 people on campus from the observation deck, below the clocks on the tower and three more in the tower, as well as wounding two more inside the observation deck. Whitman had been a patient at the University Health Center, and on March 29, preceding the shootings, had conveyed to psychiatrist Maurice Heatley his feelings of overwhelming hostilities and that he was thinking about "going up on the tower with a deer rifle and start shooting people." Following the Whitman event, the observation deck was closed until 1968, and then closed again in 1975 following a series of suicide jumps during the 1970s. In 1999, after installation of security fencing and other safety precautions, the tower observation deck reopened to the public.
The first presidential library on a university campus was dedicated on May 22, 1971 with former President Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson and then-President Richard Nixon in attendance. Constructed on the eastern side of the main campus, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum is one of 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration.
The University of Texas has experienced a wave of new construction recently with several significant buildings. On April 30, 2006, the school opened the Blanton Museum of Art. In August 2008, the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center opened, with the hotel and conference center forming part of a new gateway to the university. Also in 2008, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was expanded to a seating capacity of 100,119, making it the largest stadium (by capacity) in the state of Texas.
On the morning of September 28, 2010, 19-year-old Colton Tooley opened fire on campus with an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, resulting in a lockdown of the university campus. He then walked into the Perry-Castañeda Library and committed suicide.
On January 19, 2011, the university announced the creation of a 24-hour television network in partnership with ESPN, dubbed the Longhorn Network. ESPN will pay a $300 million guaranteed rights fee over 20 years to the university and to IMG College, UT Austin's multimedia rights partner. The network covers the university's intercollegiate athletics, music, cultural arts and academics programs. The channel first aired in September 2011.
The University's property totals 1,438.5 acres (582.1 ha), comprising the 423.5 acres (171.4 ha) for the Main Campus in central Austin and other the J. J. Pickle Research Campus in north Austin and the other properties throughout Texas. The main campus has 150 buildings totalling over 18,000,000 square feet (1,700,000 m2).
One of the University's most visible features is the Beaux-Arts Main Building, including a 307-foot (94 m) tower designed by Paul Philippe Cret. Completed in 1937, the Main Building is in the middle of campus. The tower usually appears illuminated in white light in the evening but is lit orange for various special occasions, including athletic victories and academic accomplishments; it is conversely darkened for solemn occasions. At the top of the tower is a carillon of 56 bells, the largest in Texas. Songs are played on weekdays by student carillonneurs, in addition to the usual pealing of Westminster Quarters every quarter hour between 6 am and 9 pm In 1998, after the installation of security and safety measures, the observation deck reopened to the public indefinitely for weekend tours.
The university's seven museums and seventeen libraries hold over nine million volumes, making it the seventh-largest academic library in the country. The holdings of the university's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center include one of only 21 remaining complete copies of the Gutenberg Bible and the first permanent photograph, View from the Window at Le Gras, taken by Nicéphore Niépce. The newest museum, the 155,000-square-foot (14,400 m2) Blanton Museum of Art, is the largest university art museum in the United States and hosts approximately 17,000 works from Europe, the United States, and Latin America.
The University of Texas has an extensive underground tunnel system that links all of the buildings on campus. Constructed in the 1930s under the supervision of creator Carl Eckhardt, then head of the physical plant, the tunnels have grown along with the university campus. They currently measure approximately six miles in total length. The tunnel system is used for communications and utility service. It is closed to the public and is guarded by silent alarms. Since the late 1940s the university has generated its own electricity. Today its natural gas cogeneration plant has a capacity of 123 MW. The university also operates a 1.1 megawatt TRIGA nuclear reactor at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.
The university continues to expand its facilities on campus. In 2010, the university opened the state-of-the-art Norman Hackerman building (on the location of the former Experimental Sciences Building) housing chemistry and biology research and teaching laboratories. In 2010, the university broke ground on the $120 million Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall and the $51 million Belo Center for New Media, both of which are slated to open in 2012. The new LEED gold-certified, 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) Student Activity Center (SAC) opened in January 2011, housing study rooms, lounges and food vendors. The SAC was constructed as a result of a student referendum passed in 2006 which raised student fees by $65 per semester.
The university operates a public radio station, KUT, which provides local FM broadcasts as well as live streaming audio over the Internet. The university uses Capital Metro to provide bus transportation for students around the campus and throughout Austin.
UT Austin is consistently ranked as one of the top public universities in the country, with highly prestigious programs in a variety of fields. Nationally, UT Austin ranked 45th amongst all universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and tied for 13th place among public universities in 2011. The University of Texas School of Architecture was ranked second among national undergraduate programs in 2012. Additionally, the McCombs School of Business was ranked seventh among undergraduate business programs in 2010, and the Cockrell School of Engineering was ranked ninth among undergraduate engineering programs in 2009. Internationally, UT Austin was ranked 67th in the "World's Best Universities" ranking presented by U.S. News and World Report, and ranked 35th in the world by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, based on factors such as Nobel laureate affiliation and number of highly cited researchers. In 2009, The Economist ranked the school 49th worldwide. In 2012, Times Higher Education ranked the university 25th in the world, while Human Resources & Labor Review ranked the university 43th internationally.
As of 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked forty-three UT graduate programs and specialties in the top ten nationally, and another fifty-three others ranked in the top 25. Among these programs include the number two-ranked College of Education, the fourth-ranked College of Pharmacy, the eighth-ranked Cockrell School of Engineering, the and the 14th-ranked School of Law. Four UT graduate programs were ranked first in the nation, including Accounting and Petroleum Engineering. The MBA program in the McCombs School of Business was ranked 16th nationally in 2010. A 2005 Bloomberg survey ranked the school 5th among all business schools and first among public business schools for the largest number of alumni who are S&P 500 CEOs. Similarly, a 2005 USA Today report ranked the university as "the number one source of new Fortune 1000 CEOs."
A "payback" analysis published by SmartMoney in 2011 comparing graduates' salaries to tuition costs concluded that the school was the second-best value of all colleges in the nation, behind only Georgia Tech.
Colleges and schoolsEdit
The university contains sixteen colleges & schools and two academic units, each listed with its founding date:
In addition, the university has seven honors programs that span a variety of academic fields: Liberal Arts Honors, the Business Honors Program, the Turing Scholars Program in Computer Sciences, Engineering Honors, the Health Science Honors Program in Natural Sciences, the Dean's Scholars Honors Program in Natural Sciences, and the interdisciplinary Plan II Honors program. The university also offers innovative programs for promoting academic excellence and leadership development such as the Freshman Research Initiative and Texas Interdisciplinary Plan.
The University of Texas at Austin offers more than 100 undergraduate and 170 graduate degrees. In the 2009–2010 academic year, the university awarded a total of 13,215 degrees: 67.7% bachelor's degrees, 22.0% master's degrees, 6.4% doctoral degrees, and 3.9% Professional degrees.
As a state public university, the University of Texas at Austin was, until recently, subject to Texas House Bill 588, which guarantees graduating Texas high school seniors in the top 10% of their class admission to any public Texas university. A new state law granting UT (but no other state university) a partial exemption from the top 10% rule, Senate Bill 175, was passed by the 81st Legislature in 2009. It modifies this admissions policy by limiting automatically admitted freshmen to 75% of the entering in-state freshman class, starting in 2011. The university will admit the top one percent, the top two percent and so forth until the cap is reached; the university expects to automatically admit students in the top 8% of their graduating class for 2011. Furthermore, students admitted under Texas House Bill 588 are not guaranteed their choice of college or major, but rather only guaranteed admission to the university as a whole. Many colleges, such as the Cockrell School of Engineering, have secondary requirements that must be met for admission.
For others who go through the traditional application process, selectivity is deemed "more selective" according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For Fall 2009, 31,362 applied and 45.6% were accepted, and of those accepted, 51.0% enrolled. The university's freshman retention rate in 2009 was 92.5% and the six-year graduation rate was 81.0%. The Fall 2011 entering class had an average ACT composite score of 28 and an average SAT composite score of 1858.
Faculty and researchEdit
In Fall 2009, the school employed 2,770 full-time faculty members (88.3% of whom hold the terminal degree in their field), with a student-to-faculty ratio of 17.3 to 1. The university's faculty includes 63 members of the National Academy, winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Science, the National Medal of Technology, the Turing Award and other various awards. Nine Nobel Laureates are or have been affiliated with UT Austin.
Except for MIT, UT Austin attracts more federal research grants than any American university without a medical school. For the 2009–2010 school year, the university exceeded $640 million in research funding (up from $590 million the previous year) and has earned more than 300 patents since 2003. UT Austin houses the Office of Technology Commercialization, a technology transfer center which serves as the bridge between laboratory research and commercial development. In 2009, UT Austin created nine new start-up companies to commercialize technology developed at the university and has created 46 start-ups in the past seven years. UT Austin license agreements generated $10.9 million in revenue for the university in 2009.
Research at UT Austin is largely focused in the engineering and physical sciences, and is a world-leading research institution in fields such as computer science. Energy is a major research thrust of the university, with major federally funded projects on biofuels, battery and solar cell technology, and geological carbon dioxide storage, among others. In 2009, UT founded the Energy Institute, led by former Under Secretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach, to organize and advance multi-disciplinary energy research at the university. While the university does not have a medical school, it houses medical programs associated with other campuses and allied health professional programs, as well as major research programs in pharmacy, biomedical engineering, and neuroscience and others. UT Austin opened the $100 million Dell Pediatric Research Institute in 2010 as part of an effort to increase medical research at the university and establish a medical research complex, and associated medical school, in the city of Austin.
UT Austin operates several major auxiliary research centers. The world's third-largest telescope, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, and three other large telescopes are part of UT's McDonald Observatory, 450 miles (720 km) west of Austin. The university manages nearly 300 acres (1.2 km2) of biological field laboratories, including the Brackenridge Field Laboratory in Austin. The Center for Agile Technology focuses on software development challenges. The J.J. Pickle Research Campus (PRC) is home to the Texas Advanced Computing Center which operates the Ranger supercomputer, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, as well as the Microelectronics Research Center which houses micro- and nanoelectronics research and features a 15,000 square foot (1,400 m2) cleanroom for device fabrication. Founded in 1946, UT's Applied Research Laboratories at the PRC has been responsible for the development or testing of the vast majority of high-frequency sonar equipment used by the Navy, and in 2007, was granted a research contract by the Navy funded up to $928 million over ten years. The Center for Transportation Research UT Austin is a nationally recognized research institution focusing on transportation research, education, and public service. Established in 1963 as the Center for Highway Research, its current and ongoing projects address virtually all aspects of transportation, including economics, multimodal systems, traffic congestion relief, transportation policy, materials, structures, transit, environmental impacts, driver behavior, land use, geometric design, accessibility, and pavements.
The university has an endowment of $7.2 billion, out of the $16.11 billion (according to 2008 estimates) available to the University of Texas System. This figure reflects the fact that the school has the largest endowment of any public university in the nation.
Thirty percent of the university's endowment comes from Permanent University Fund (PUF), with nearly $15 billion in assets as of 2007. Proceeds from lands appropriated in 1839 and 1876, as well as oil monies, comprise the majority of PUF. At one time, the PUF was the chief source of income for Texas's two university systems, The University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System; today, however, its revenues account for less than 10 percent of the universities' annual budgets. This has challenged the universities to increase sponsored research and private donations. Privately funded endowments contribute over $2 billion to the University's total endowment value.
For Fall 2011, the university enrolled 38,437 undergraduate, 11,497 graduate and 1,178 law students. Out-of-state and international students comprised 9.1% of the undergraduate student body and 20.1% of the total student body, with students from all 50 states and more than 120 foreign countries—most notably, South Korea, followed by the People's Republic of China, India, Mexico and Taiwan. For Fall 2010, the undergraduate student body was 48.7% male and 51.3% female. The three largest undergraduate majors in 2009 were Biological Sciences, Unspecified Business, and Psychology, while the three largest graduate majors were Business Administration (MBA), Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Pharmacy (PharmD).
The campus is currently home to fourteen residence halls, the newest of which opened for residence in Spring 2007. On-campus housing can hold more than 7,100 students. Jester Center is the largest residence hall with its capacity of 2,945. Academic enrollment exceeds the on-campus housing capacity; as a result, most students must live in private residence halls, housing cooperatives, apartments, or with Greek organizations and other off-campus residences. The Division of Housing and Food Service, which already has the largest market share of 7,000 of the estimated 27,000 beds in the campus area, plans to expand to 9,000 beds in the near future.
The university recognizes more than 1,000 student organizations. In addition, it supports three official student governance organizations that represent student interests to faculty, administrators, and the Texas Legislature. Student Government, established in 1902, is the oldest governance organization and represents student interests in general. The Senate of College Councils represents students in academic affairs and coordinates the college councils, and the Graduate Student Assembly represents graduate student interests. The University Unions Student Events Center serves as the hub for student activities on campus. The Friar Society serves as the oldest honor society at the university. The Texas 4000 for Cancer student organization is the longest annual charity bicycle ride in the world and has raised over $1.4 million dollars for cancer research from its founding in 2004 to April, 2009.
The University of Texas at Austin is home to an active Greek community. Approximately 14 percent of undergraduate students are in fraternities or sororities. With more than 65 national chapters, the university's Greek community is one of the nation's largest. These chapters are under the authority of one of the school's six Greek council communities, Interfraternity Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Texas Asian Pan-Hellenic Council, Latino Pan-Hellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council and University Panhellenic Council. Other registered student organizations also name themselves with Greek letters and are called affiliates. They are not a part of one of the six councils but have all of the same privileges and responsibilities of any other organization. According to the Office of the Dean of Students' mission statement, Greek life promotes cultural appreciation, scholarship, leadership, and service. Most Greek houses are west of the Drag in the West Campus neighborhood.
Students express their opinions in and out of class through periodicals including Study Breaks Magazine, Longhorn Life, The Daily Texan (the most award-winning daily college newspaper in the United States), and the Texas Travesty. Over the airwaves students' voices are heard through K29HW-D and KVRX.
The Computer Writing and Research Lab of the university's Department of Rhetoric and Writing also hosts the Blogora, a blog for "connecting rhetoric, rhetorical methods and theories, and rhetoricians with public life" by the Rhetoric Society of America.
The university has a yearbook. In the 1980s it annually sold 14,000 copies. In 1997 it sold 1,700, an all-time low. Kathy Lawrence, the media adviser at UT Austin, said that yearbook sales declined once the school switched from in-person registration to telephone-based registration. During in-person registrations, the university often asked students to buy student yearbooks. Lawrence said that other factors leading to a decline in yearbook sales at UT Austin included increasing student numbers and declining participation in campus life. As of 2008, about 2,500 copies sell annually. To salvage the yearbook, Lawrence introduced personalized pages. When Lawrence concluded that social networking sites lead to a decline in yearbook sales, Sarah Viren of the Houston Chronicle said that Lawrence "eventually opted to hold off on the personalized pages."
Traditions at the University of Texas are perpetuated through several school symbols and mediums. At athletic events, students frequently sing "Texas Fight", the university's fight song while displaying the Hook 'em Horns hand gesture—the gesture mimicking the horns of the school's mascot, Bevo the Texas longhorn.
The University of Texas offers a wide variety of varsity and intramural sports programs. As of 2008, the university's athletics program ranked fifth in the nation among Division I schools according to the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics. Due to the breadth of sports offered and the quality of the programs, Texas was selected as "America's Best Sports College" in a 2002 analysis by Sports Illustrated. Texas was also listed as the number one Collegiate Licensing Company client for the second consecutive year in regards to the amount of annual trademark royalties received from fan merchandise sales. But this ranking is based only on clients of the Collegiate Licensing Company, which does not handle licensing for approximately three-dozen large schools including Ohio State, USC, UCLA, Michigan State, and Texas A&M.
The University's men's and women's athletics teams are nicknamed the Longhorns. A charter member of the Southwest Conference until it dissolved in 1996, Texas now competes in the Big 12 Conference of the NCAA's Division I-FBS. Texas has won 49 total national championships, 41 of which are NCAA national championships.
The University of Texas has traditionally been considered a college football powerhouse. At the start of the 2007 season, the Longhorns were ranked third in the all-time list of both total wins and winning percentage. The team experienced its greatest success under coach Darrell Royal, winning three national championships in 1963, 1969, and 1970. It won a fourth title under head coach Mack Brown in 2005 after a 41–38 victory over previously undefeated Southern California in the 2006 Rose Bowl.
In recent years, the men's basketball team has gained prominence, advancing to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen in 2002, the Final Four in 2003, the Sweet Sixteen in 2004, and the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2008.
The University's baseball team is one of the nation's best. It has made more trips to the College World Series (34) than any other school, and it posted wins in 1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, and 2005.
Additionally, the University's highly successful men's and women's swimming and diving teams lay claim to sixteen NCAA Division I titles. The swim team was first developed under Coach Tex Robertson. In particular, the men's team is led by Eddie Reese, who served as the head men's coach at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, the 2004 Games in Athens and the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Texas Exes is the official UT alumni organization.
The Alcalde, founded in 1913 and pronounced “all-call-day,” is the university's alumni magazine.
Over 15 graduates have served in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, such as Lloyd Bentsen '42, who served as both a U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative, as well as being the 1988 Democratic Party Vice Presidential nominee. Presidential cabinet members include former United States Secretary of State James Baker '57, former United States Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, and former United States Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans '73. Former First Lady Laura Bush '73 and daughter Jenna '04 both graduated from Texas, as well as former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson '33 & '34 and her eldest daughter Lynda. In foreign governments, the university has been represented by Fernando Belaúnde Terry '36 (42nd President of Peru), Mostafa Chamran (former Minister of Defense for Iran), and Abdullah al-Tariki (co-founder of OPEC). Additionally, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Salam Fayyad, graduated from the university with a PhD in economics.
Alumni in academia include the 26th President of The College of William & Mary Gene Nichol '76, the 10th President of Boston University Robert A. Brown '73 & '75, and the 8th President of the University of Southern California John R. Hubbard. The University also graduated Alan Bean '55, the fourth man to walk on the Moon. Additionally, alumni who have served as business leaders include ExxonMobil Corporation CEO Rex Tillerson '75, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, and Gary C. Kelly, Southwest Airlines's CEO.
In literature and journalism, the school has produced Pulitzer Prize winners Gail Caldwell and Ben Sargent '70. Walter Cronkite, the former CBS Evening News anchor once called the most trusted man in America, attended the University of Texas at Austin, as did CNN anchor Betty Nguyen '95. Alumnus J. M. Coetzee also received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. Novelist Raymond Benson ('78) was the official author of James Bond novels between 1996–2002, the only American to be commissioned to pen them. Donna Alvermann, a distinguished research professor at the University of Georgia, Department of Education also graduated from the University of Texas, as did Wallace Clift ('49) and Jean Dalby Clift ('50, J.D. '52), authors of several books in the fields of psychology of religion and spiritual growth. Alireza Jafarzadeh the author of "The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis" and television commentator ('82, MS)
Several musicians and entertainers attended the University, though most dropped out to pursue their respective careers. Janis Joplin, the American singer who was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and who received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award attended the university, as did February 1955 Playboy Playmate of the Month and Golden Globe recipient Jayne Mansfield. Composer Harold Morris is a 1910 graduate. Noted film director, cinematographer, writer, and editor Robert Rodriguez is a Longhorn, as are actors Eli Wallach and Matthew McConaughey. Rodriguez dropped out of the university after two years to pursue his career in Hollywood, but he officially completed his degree from the Radio-Television-Film department on May 23, 2009. Rodriguez also gave the keynote address at the university-wide commencement ceremony. Radio-Television-Film alumni Mark Dennis and Ben Foster took their award winning feature film, Strings, to the American film festival circuit in 2011. Web and television actress Felicia Day and film actress Renée Zellweger also attended the university. Day graduated with dual degrees in music performance (violin) and mathematics, while Zellweger graduated with a BA in English. Writer, recording artist Phillip Sandifer attended the university and graduated with a degree in History. Farrah Fawcett, one of the original Charlie's Angels, left after her junior year to pursue a modeling career. Actor Owen Wilson and writer/director Wes Anderson each attended the university. There they wrote Bottle Rocket together which became Anderson's first feature film. Another notable writer, Rob Thomas graduated with a BA in History in 1987 and went on to write the young adult novel Rats Saw God and created the series Veronica Mars. Notable illustrator, writer and alum, Felicia Bond, is best known for her illustrations in the If You Give... children's books series, starting with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Chinese singer-songwriter, producer, actress Cindy Yen (birth name Cindy Wu) graduated with double degrees in Music (piano performance) and Broadcast Journalism in 2008.
Many alumni have found success in professional sports. Legendary pro football coach Tom Landry '49 attended the university as an industrial engineering major but interrupted his education after a semester to serve in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. Following the war, he returned to the university and played fullback and defensive back on the Longhorns' bowl-game winners on New Year's Day of 1948 and 1949. Seven-time Cy Young Award-winner Roger Clemens entered the MLB after helping the Longhorns win the 1983 College World Series. Three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant entered the 2007 NBA Draft and was selected second overall behind Greg Oden, after sweeping National Player of the Year honors, becoming the first freshman to win any of the awards. After becoming became the first freshman in school history to lead Texas in scoring and being named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, Daniel Gibson entered the 2006 NBA Draft and was selected in the second round by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Several Olympic medalists have also attended the school, including 2008 Summer Olympics athletes Ian Crocker '05 (swimming world record holder and two-time Olympic gold medalist) and 4x400m relay defending Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards '06. Mary Lou Retton (the first female gymnast outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title, five-time Olympic medalist, and 1984 Sports Illustrated Sportswoman of the Year) also attended the university. Also an alumnus is Dr. Robert Cade, the inventor of the sport drink Gatorade.
Other notable alumni include prominent businessman Red McCombs, Diane Pamela Wood, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also an alumnus is Admiral William H. McRaven, credited for organizing and executing Operation Neptune's Spear, the special ops raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.