AUSTIN - University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves applauded his school’s relatively low tuition and recent legal win for affirmative action during his annual state of the university speech Tuesday, but stressed that more work needs to be done to make UT-Austin more affordable and diverse.
“A UT education allows the sons and daughters of sales clerks and factory workers to one day own the store, run the plant, build the next generation of businesses or lead in a profession or the arts,” he said at an on-campus ceremony. “For students to obtain such an outstanding education, it must be accessible and affordable.”
With that goal in mind, the university will devote an additional $15 million toward financial aid for middle-class students starting in 2017, he said. The grants will be available to students whose families make more than $60,000 per year. Students whose families make less than that typically already have their tuition covered by grants and scholarships, he said.
“We are dedicated to keeping UT affordable and accessible,” Fenves said.
“A UT education allows the sons and daughters of sales clerks and factory workers to one day own the store.”— Greg Fenves, UR-Austin president
Regarding diversity, Fenves applauded UT-Austin’s victory at the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, which allowed the university to continue giving minority applicants a slight boost in the admissions process if certain guidelines are met.
After the ruling, he said, the university began to put together an action plan that will “clearly define the needs for improving diversity and inclusion, identify shortcomings and chart a course for advancing our values.”
“We will examine ongoing efforts to increase inclusion for underrepresented and traditionally underserved members of the university and develop new ways to improve success for students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds,” he said.
Fenves also praised the Longhorn football team — which has started the season 2-0 — and promised to hire 50 new faculty members over the next several years as part of a program to increase collaboration in research.
Tuesday’s speech was his second state of the university address since taking the job of president last June.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.