Active. Generous. Leader. Thoughtful. Involved. The list could go on and on. What do these words have in common? They describe the alumni of the University Unions.
Even though our alumni came from all areas of campus, they all came together at the Union. They came for a variety of reasons; to join a committee, to meet their friends, to attend a lecture, to study, for dances, to learn leadership skills, just to name a few. Despite the reason for coming, the result of being a part of the Union was honing leadership skills and creating a sense of community that then translated into successful careers and relationships years after they left the 40 acres.
We are very proud of the accomplishments of our alumni and now we would like to share this pride with you. I would like to introduce the first University Unions Alumni Spotlight – George Nokes.
To describe George Nokes, one would simply have to refer to the words at the opening of this article. George came to The University of Texas at Austin following WWII in the mid-1940’s to study law. Upon arriving to UT, George, like many students, looked for recreation on campus as he did not own a car. This led him straight to the Texas Union. The Union hosted several dances, speakers and activities in the ballroom and the programming was of great importance to the entire student body. As George said, “About everything that happened back then happened at the Union.”
The 1940’s were a turbulent time at UT. It was during this time that George became very involved in committees and activities on campus. He was an avid fan of debating and was drawn to the debate committee and the Forum Speakers Committee (now Distinguished Speakers Committee). These activities spurred him to seek public office, even though he was still a student. It was with this ambition that George was elected to the state legislature and served two terms before running for the Senate. At 25 years old, George became the youngest person ever elected to the Texas State Senate. (You must be 26 to serve as a senator. George turned 26 before his term began.) So while he was a 26-year old law student, he was also serving as a state senator while still continuing his activities on campus. Talk about dedication, leadership and being involved!
As an alumn, George continues to be involved with the University and with the Union. He and his wife, Virginia, are strong supporters of women’s athletics and even used to travel with the women’s basketball team. He has served on several councils and committees including the Chancellor’s Council, the Communication Foundation’s Advisory Council, the Longhorn Foundation, President’s Associates, the Women’s Athletics Advisory Council and the University Unions Advisory Council.
In 2006, he also became a strong supporter of developing the GRasp award at the University Unions alongside the Union Advisory Council. This award was designed to encourage and facilitate the continued student participation in University Unions committees and organizations.
George Nokes has continually demonstrated his interest and support for activities that prepare students for their lives ahead. For all that he did while a student and continues to do as an alumni, he truly exemplifies the mission of the University Unions – to enhance the student experience and enrich campus life. Thank you George!