Skip to content
Main content

University Development Board

Contact Us

Fall 2016 Meeting Summary


Board Chair Pat Oles kicked off the fall meeting and announced 24 new members for 2016-17. We are thrilled to welcome this group of alumni and friends who now join efforts to enhance our philanthropic community and keep UT Austin among the country’s top public research universities.

fenvesPresident Greg Fenves shared important news about philanthropy and how it elevates excellence in education and research, and enhances campus facilities, programs, and the student experience. He thanked board members for their ongoing support and help in advancing UT Austin. The university is achieving strong results in student success initiatives, including the highest 4-year graduation rate in UT history: 60.9 percent — an increase of 10.3 percentage points since 2011 and well on the way to achieving a goal of 70 percent. We are closing the scholarship gap for students in most need. The president mentioned the importance of the upcoming legislative session and demonstrating both the university’s needs as well as results. He continues to seek financial support to bolster campus safety and security. This fall a Diversity Action Plan will also be developed for the university. He closed his remarks with updates on his administrative team including the appointment of a new vice president for student affairs, Soncia Reagins-Lilly. He then introduced the new vice president for development, Scott Rabenold.

Scott Rabenold

Vice President Scott Rabenold expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome he has received since joining UT on September 1. UT Austin has extraordinary and passionate alumni and friends, an incredible ambition, great leadership, and a successful campaign history. He decided to come to the university to have the opportunity to build on that success, and lead a fundraising program and donor experience that will be recognized as best in the country in higher education. A primary goal is to grow the capacity for philanthropic support across the university. Few universities in the country are at this elite level, where there is still significant room for marked philanthropic growth. He looks forward to working with board members and others to build UT’s private gift support.

All In: How Donors Are Taking UT to the Next Level


Miriam and Jim Mulva, Shannon Wong, Mitchel Wong, Bobby Patton, and President Greg Fenves

We heard fascinating stories from donors who shared the vision and passion behind their transformative gifts that are changing the landscape at UT Austin.

Bobby Patton of Fort Worth, an oil and gas investor and co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, began his studies at UT Austin in Liberal Arts Plan II before graduating from the McCombs School of Business. Bobby shared the impact his education had on his success, the ties he has had with UT over time including in volunteer service, and the relations with campus leaders that kept him abreast of campus priorities. The Pattons’ $20 million investment to benefit the College of Liberal Arts, which includes the Sherri & Bobby Patton Jr. Challenge Fund, was announced in September.

Mitchel Wong and his son Shannon Wong have a successful ophthalmology practice that serves Central Texas. In October, the Wong family pledged $20 million to UT’s Dell Medical School to create the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute. Mitchel said the university changed his life, and he is indebted for the opportunities it provided in his career. Shannon said this is a way to give back to a community and a university that has meant so much to their family. It is their way of “paying it forward” for the next generations of students and innovators in this medical field.

Jim and Miriam Mulva are among UT Austin’s most generous benefactors. Jim is the former chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips and a McCombs School graduate. Their transformative gifts, more than $75 million to date, benefit the McCombs School of Business, Cockrell School of Engineering, College of Liberal Arts, and the ROTC program. Miriam commented that their family has ties to the areas they support. Jim said he appreciates associating with university leaders who have a clear vision for its future. They believe it is important to give back, and there are many ways people can help UT.

Brain Storm: Accelerating Neuroscience Discovery and Advancing Care


Watch to learn more about this initiative (click image above).

President Fenves announced UT Austin will embark on an ambitious 10-year fundraising initiative to become a premier destination for research, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of neurological disorders. The university will be “Leading a Brain Health Revolution.” Many college and schools are involved in neuroscience research and discovery to improve the quality of life for more than 90 million Americans who suffer from neurological disorders. Our strong interdisciplinary efforts along with the addition of Dell Medical School, provide an exceptional opportunity to make UT a world leader in this field.


Clay Johnston, Ashish Deshpande, Andreana Haley, Maya Henry, and Daniel Johnston

The faculty panel featured five remarkable scientists and their work to bridge academics and clinical care in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Daniel Johnston, neuroscience professor in the College of Natural Sciences and director of the Center for Learning and Memory, moderated. He noted there are more than 70 faculty members in neuroscience research across seven colleges and 14 departments, amazing graduate students, and hundreds of undergraduates pursuing degrees that touch this area. Last year, 35 percent of all federal dollars from the NIH awarded to UT Austin was in neuroscience-related research. It is a significant force on campus.

The faculty panelists talked about their research goals and the passion behind their interest in this field: Dr. Clay Johnston, neurologist and inaugural dean of Dell Medical School; Dr. Ashish Deshpande, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ReNeu Lab) in the Cockrell School; Dr. Andreana Haley, associate professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts (Clinical Neuroscience Lab); and Dr. Maya Henry, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Moody College of Communication (Aphasia Research and Treatment Lab).

Remarks by new Head Coach


The new head coach of Texas BaseballDavid Pierce, shared his philosophy and plans. He wants his players to trust in themselves, in their talents, and in their team. The spring season provides many opportunities, and each achievement is a step toward the next opportunity, from individual wins all the way to a national championship. He wants his players to win with integrity — in the classroom and on the field. Student-athletes should win in their lives, in their families, and in their communities.

Remarks by featured UT Student


Vice President Greg Vincent gave remarks regarding the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s initiatives including UT Elementary School, and then he introduced Alexis Blackman.






Alexis Blackman, electrical engineering student, Class of 2020

Freshman Alexis Blackman gave an emotional testimony about the power of philanthropy in her life. She is the first UT Elementary School (UTES) graduate to attend “Big UT” and the only student who can call herself a Longhorn since kindergarten. Her dream to call the Forty Acres home was fulfilled when she received the Little Longhorn Success Scholarship created by the University Co-op, awarded in recognition of her outstanding achievements in high school. Alexis described a journey that included challenging life circumstances, a nurturing and inspirational environment at UT Elementary, high expectations and encouragement in her academic experiences, and the embrace she felt throughout her life by her UT family. She wants to give back and help others realize their dreams through an electrical engineering career in the computer industry developing accessible hardware and software for low-income families.

Board Chair Pat Oles concluded the meeting by stating Alexis Blackman stands for all things UT Austin. She embodies a spirit of excellence and Longhorn pride. She exemplifies our mission to transform lives for the benefit of society. She truly shows that “What Starts Here Changes the World.”

Please share your ideas, referrals, and feedback to:

Alisa Cohen Victoria
Phone: 512-232-2799
Toll-free: 866-4UTEXAS
Fax: 512-471-3673

The University of Texas at Austin
University Development Office
PO BOX 7458
Austin, Texas 78713-7458

Development Board Meeting