As the University of Texas at Austin celebrates its 125th anniversary, it can justly claim to be a “university of the first class,” as mandated in the Texas Constitution. The university’s faculty and student body include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur “genius award,” and Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, as well as members of learned societies all over the world. UT’s athletic programs are said to be the best overall in the United States, and its libraries, museums, and archives are lauded in every educated part of the world. Texas alumni have made their marks in law, engineering, geology, business, journalism, and all fields of the sciences, arts, and entertainment.
The Texas Book gathers together personality profiles, historical essays, and first-person reminiscences to create an informal, highly readable history of UT. Many fascinating characters appear in these pages, including visionary president and Ransom Center founder Harry Huntt Ransom, contrarian English professor and Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie, legendary regent and lightning rod Frank C. Erwin, and founder of the field of Mexican American Studies, AmÈrico Paredes. The historical pieces recall some of the most dramatic and challenging episodes in the university’s history, including recurring attacks on the school by politicians and regents, the institution’s history of segregation and struggles to become a truly diverse university, the sixties’ protest movements, and the Tower sniper shooting. Rounding off the collection are reminiscences by former and current students and faculty, including Walter Prescott Webb, Willie Morris, Betty Sue Flowers, J. M. Coetzee, and Barbara Jordan, who capture the spirit of the campus at moments in time that defined their eras.
Richard A. Holland was a bibliographer in the University of Texas General Libraries for sixteen years and is now a senior lecturer in the university’s Liberal Arts Honors program, where he teaches courses on Texas culture, American music, and the 1960s.