When business analysts discuss "return on investment" they are measuring what they get in return for the investment they make. At UT universities and health institutions, ROI is determined by the impact our alumni have made in the world. Our supporters and friends invest in students today and are rewarded with tomorrow's thinkers, innovators and leaders.
Each year, Chancellor's Council members gather in Austin for an annual meeting and symposium to see firsthand their immeasurable ROI at UT institutions. On May 4, 2012, more than 700 Chancellor's Council members heard from five extraordinary UT alumni who shared their incredible talents, successes and memoirs.
An entrepreneur who creates robots that feel human emotion. An astronaut who explores new frontiers. A surgeon who saves lives with artificial human hearts. A journalist who asks the hard questions. A military leader who protects our freedom.
This is ROI at UT System.
Robots who mimic human expression and emotion used to exist only in the movies, but David Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics, has turned fiction into reality. The UT Dallas alum has dedicated his career to creating robots who are as socially adept as human beings. Merging robotics and art to design life-like robots, Hanson wowed our guests with his creations.
We watched Sam Donaldson ask presidents, leaders and public officials fearless questions on our televisions for decades. But before he was asking hard-hitting questions, the legendary ABC anchor was a Texas Western University (now UT El Paso) graduate simply looking for a job. From his "lucky break" into broadcast news and daring dialogue with popular political figures, to his thoughts on the state of today's politics, Donaldson charmed our audience while recounting his journey from El Paso to the ABC News desk.
When Bud Frazier, M.D., made the decision to attend medical school as a UT Austin student, not even he could have known his decision would one day save countless lives. Frazier shared with our guests the research that led him to the development of the beatless artificial heart and his days learning under some of the most storied names in cardiac surgery.
To one day serve as a flight surgeon for space expeditions would be a dream come true for Serena Auñón, M.D. As one of only 14 astronauts selected from 3,500 applicants, Auñón's dream is very much a near-reality. A graduate of the UT Health Science Center at Houston and a resident at UT Medical Branch at Galveston, Auñón revealed how her educational journey helped her to gain a position few in the world hold – NASA astronaut.
Named runner-up for Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2011, Admiral William H. McRaven is renowned for successfully leading the Joint Special Operations Command that oversaw many critical missions, including the raid to destroy Osama bin Laden. McRaven captivated our guests, humbly describing the daily life of soldiers who prefer to do their work without fanfare. He also spoke fondly of his time as a Navy ROTC student at UT Austin, where he met his wife, and the great influence the university had on his life.
The UT Austin Trombone Choir closed the program with a Texas musical medley. The final song – "The Eyes of Texas" – brought the audience to their feet and Hook Em' Horns signs in the air.
Discovery SessionsPrior to the afternoon symposium, Chancellor's Council members were invited to choose and attend one of two discovery sessions.
Dr. Ronald DePinho, president of UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, led the first discovery session on The Challenge of Cancer. DePinho addressed an overflowing room and shared his bold plans to speed drug development and to cure several major cancers in the years ahead.
Paul Stekler, Emmy and Peabody award-winning professor and Radio-Television-Film department chair at UT Austin led the second session, titled Politics as Storytelling: In the Media and on Film. Sharing stories and excerpts of his critically acclaimed films from campaign trails over the years, Stekler gave his crowd a firsthand and highly entertaining account of how the excerpts related to this year's ongoing election campaigns.