The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You 'Til Gabriel Blows His Horn
How long is that, really? And why is it on my mind as we pivot from our first Century into the future?
At the turn of the last century, UT student musicians unveiled “The Eyes of Texas” with its line “‘Til Gabriel blows his horn.” Historian Jim Nicar writes that “before the first verse was finished, the crowd was in an uproar. By the end of the song, the audience was pounding the floor and demanding so many encores that members of the quartet became hoarse… [A month later] President Prather made his farewell speech to the senior class, ‘And now, young ladies and gentlemen, in the words of your own poet, remember that the eyes of Texas are upon you.’ The seniors gave Prather a standing ovation, and The University of Texas had a song it could call its own.
Our Centennial commemorative book, Journal Entries, honors our distinguished history from 1912-2012, and tells our story through remembrances of famous faculty members and success stories of our alumni. It is clear from your stories that you have felt the Eyes of Texas on you from your first steps into the business world to your successes as CEOs, CFOs, partners, global citizens and civic servants.
In the early decades of UT, the education was cheap, the state was rich, and the oil was flowing. Many of you were students during the decades when tuition, the state legislature and the Permian Basin oil money paid for all the essentials. We built this program into the envy of our peers and your generosity was the icing on top. The Centennial article in this issue includes letters from me and all the former department chairs expressing our gratitude for that generosity. I hope you will read them and hear our individual voices.
We are now facing forward into our next century. Your donations are no longer the icing – they are the very bread of life – we cannot build our dynamic future without your support, because the state only provides 13% of our funding, and the regents have frozen tuition.
The chart on the back page shows the shocking statistics that only 6% of McCombs alumni (5.6% of accounting alumni) gave anything back to the college or department in 2011. Private schools like Dartmouth (67%) and Virginia (43%) have coached their students for generations to give back. But even Oklahoma (21%), and Texas A&M (13%) participate at double UT’s rate. These statistics are important – one of the hard numbers that goes into the Business Week rankings is the percent of alumni who give back to their academic units. I know that football tickets and parking are expensive, but your donations to TexasExes and Longhorn Foundations and our athletics program do not count in the statistics that affect rankings. I know we have enjoyed being #1 in accounting for a while now, but that is in spite of a visible signal from alumni that is inconsistent with that proud ranking.
Participating at any level on an annual basis is one easy, concrete way to announce your degree is valuable to all those whose eyes we want on Texas. This message is for all of you – the 6% who give so faithfully, and the 94% who have not yet done so. You 6% please tell any alumnus you meet why you give back to the department. And you 94% - please make this the year to invest in our reputation – now and always.
So … how can we think about ‘Til Gabriel Blows His Horn?’ If I can be so bold, please commit to a sustaining gift of any amount that will recur monthly or annually ‘Til Gabriel Blows His Horn.’ This automatically recurring gift would mean that we don’t have to expend energy asking for thoughtful renewals – and you will know you have taken care of doing your part in our annual participation statistics. Let’s aim high - can UT’s accounting graduates reach toward 100% during our Centennial year? If every one of our 20,000 alums signed up right now for $100 per year, we would raise $2,000,000 per year, and $200,000,000 over our next century for scholarships, research, and programs, and have bragging rights on 100% alumni participation rates. Beat OU, beat A&M, and … beat Dartmouth!
I am so proud to be part of the Longhorn family – and I know the Eyes of Texas are upon you and me, both! ◆