The University of Texas

by : Dane Smith

The University of Texas, with its flagship campus in Austin, is one of the original eight “Public Ivys," according to Richard Moll. Moll coined the phrase in his 1985 book, Public Ivys: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities. The phrase has since come to include many more universities who offer an Ivy League education at a public university price.

UT earned such a distinction by providing a quality education for undergraduates since it opened its doors in 1883. As far back as 1839, the government of Texas set aside 40 acres of real estate in Austin for the purpose of starting a public university. They named the area College Hill. Construction did not begin until 1881, when Austin was officially made the main campus for the new university. By this time, Texas A&M had already beaten it to being the first university in Texas. Unfortunately, one of the most memorable points in the history of the University of Texas was when Charles Whitman barricaded himself and a rifle at the top of the Main Building Tower in 1966. He shot and killed 14 people.

Today, UT is one of the largest universities in the U.S. Enrollment reaches nearly 50,000 each year and the sprawling campus covers 350 acres near downtown Austin. Students and the public have access to seven museums and 17 libraries with over eight million volumes. Among its collections, the university owns one of only 21 copies of the Gutenberg Bible and the first photograph ever taken, created by Nicephore Niepce.

In terms of academics, UT consistently ranks very high. U.S. News and World Report ranks UT the 44th best university in the country and the 12th best public university. Many of its individual programs rank highly as well. For instance, the engineering school ranks in the top ten and the business school, fifth.

In athletics, UT also excels. Football is king in Texas and the UT Longhorns are consistently one of the best teams in the country. In 2005 won the NCAA national championship in Football. UT has also traditionally been successful in baseball, basketball, and swimming and diving. All large universities have their rivalries and for the Longhorns, its Texas A&M. The Longhorns and the Aggies have the third-longest running rivalry in the U.S.

In its long and distinguished history, UT has produced many successful graduates. Farrah Fawcett, Janis Joplin, Renee Zellweger, Roger Clemens, David Geffen, and many other famous people graduated from UT Austin.

The University of Texas along with the state capitol offers a steady economic base to the city of Austin that is able to stabilize Austin as other industries in Austin ebb and flow. For instance during the tech downturn in 2000/2001 which affected many cities in the United States part of the brunt of the economic downtown was mitigated by the employment base of University of Texas and the state capitol that

UT is an integral part of the city of Austin. Residents enjoy the atmosphere of prestigious athletics and academics that the school adds to their city.