The University of Texas at Austin

Inspiration! - Commencement 2014

May 23, 2014

Graduation weekend was inspiring, insightful and fun. Here are some examples:

Make Your Bed; Change the World

Commencement 2014’s keynote speaker, Admiral William McRaven, BJ ’77, Distinguished Alumnus, commander of U.S. Special Operations and head of Operation Neptune Spear, which resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden, shared ten life lessons he learned from his Navy SEAL Training. These are great lessons for new graduates and good advice in general.

Supporting Commencement

The University’s 131st annual spring commencement was the grand finale to the academic year. Special thanks to everyone in Information Technology Services (ITS) who helped, behind the scenes, to make sure the events went off smoothly. Cole McClellan, Project Manager, ITS Networking and his team, once again, provided audio-visual services in 21 venues for 17 events, including live streaming video for five events, including the main commencement webcast. They also facilitated video overflow in ten venues. ITS staff was responsible for installing wireless access used by 6,838 devices over commencement weekend and provided a total of 391 work-hours – not including Networking’s time - to ensure the job was done right and graduates and their families enjoyed a successful commencement!

Who Gets to Graduate?

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine featured an extensive article about U.T. Austin’s commitment to increase graduation and success rates for all of the University’s students. Focused on the efforts of David Laude, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment and Graduation Management and one of his collaborators, David Yeager, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, the article describes the “giant educational experiment” taking place here at the University. One of the stars of the piece is Vanessa Brewer, a freshman, who has just completed her first year at U.T. Austin. Insights from her story – and the information being gathered from numerous others – tell an impressive tale.

Laude’s official mission is to improve U.T.’s four-year graduation rate from 52 percent to 70 percent by 2017. Building from his early experience teaching chemistry to students with “adversity indicators,” Laude and Yeager have created a variety of programs and interventions that are helping students succeed. Through innovative approaches like the Texas Interdisciplinary Plan (TIP), the “U.T. Mindset” intervention, and the University Leadership Network (U.L.N.), students are beginning to effectively address concerns about “belonging” and “ability.” What’s different in this approach? With the U.L.N., for example, incoming students are helped with developing leadership skills, given meaningful work on campus, and mentoring to achieve academic success. ITS has signed up to provide work opportunities for 10 U.L.N. students this coming year, and will play an active role in this new program in the years ahead.

In a post to his blog, Tower Talk, President Powers said “If you read only one article about UT Austin this year, please read Who Gets to Graduate?. The related article on the writing of the story is also worth your time.” Please invest the time to read these inspirational pieces.

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