William C. Powers Jr.
President, The University of Texas at Austin
Welcome to the campus of the University of Texas. Welcome fellow members and new members of the Philosophical Society, spouses, friends, distinguished panelists, and special guests. The University is honored to host the 2009 meeting of the Philosophical Society, and to open our doors to you.
We are especially honored to have in our company Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. The Lieutenant Governor is a great friend of higher education in Texas, and we thank him for his leadership and support during these challenging economic times. I also want to acknowledge James Huffines, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. Thank you, James, for the tremendous work you’re doing to support and strengthen UT Austin and all of the component institutions of the University of Texas System. Thank you very much.
This meeting takes place on or near December 5th every year, which was the date when 26 political and intellectual Texas leaders first gathered at the capitol in Houston – on December 5th, 1837. The group included Mirabeau B. Lamar, Ashbel Smith, Sam Houston, and others whose names would become familiar to future Texans – Wharton, Rusk, Burnet, Bonnell. The founders wanted Texas to be a place as renowned for knowledge and wisdom as military courage. As they said in their charter, “Texas has her captains, let her have her wise men.”
And so this year, 172 years later, we gather as wise men and women to celebrate the progress we Texans have made in education, in the arts and literature, and in scientific discovery. Those 26 founders could not have imagined what we are celebrating this weekend. They may not have imagined
· a world-class university with 50,000 students,
· the Blanton Art Museum showcasing Renaissance and modern treasures,
· the Ransom Center filled with priceless collections,
· the Petawatt lab with the world’s highest laser power,
· and the Visualization lab producing all those remarkable images.
And they may not have imagined the amount of talent and creativity that tomorrow’s panelists represent. But they certainly hoped that a day would come when Texas represented the highest and most noble aspirations of the human spirit.
This is a remarkable gathering, and I am proud that it is taking place on our campus. I am proud that we could share with you some of the treasures of the University and equally proud that many of our teachers and graduates will be adding their voices to the conversation about “the creative arts in Texas.” Thank you all for being here tonight. And again, welcome to our campus.