In 1881 Austin was chosen as the location for the University of Texas and a board of regents was established to oversee the university. In 1883 the school opened on with the original main building on College Hill serving as the multipurpose focal point of the fledgling institution. In 1934 this building was demolished to make way for library space. The current, iconic UT Austin Tower and main building went up in its place.
The discovery of oil on school property allowed for the creation of an endowment around 1923 and expansion peaked following World War II with increased enrollment resulting from the GI Bill. Today, the main campus has grown to about 350 acres, with significant space in other locations in and around the city of Austin. UT is the largest school in Texas and one of the largest in the nation.
The most prominent feature on UT-Austin’s 350-acre main campus is the 307-foot tall UT Austin Tower, which serves as the university’s most distinguishing landmark. The observation deck allows for a spectacular view from all directions. The UT Tower is often lit bright orange to recognize any achievements on campus that the school finds noteworthy, whether academic or athletic.
Surrounding the UT Tower is the Main Mall. The College of Communication and School of Engineering are at the northwest end of the campus. On the west mall, students can find different organizations set up with tables to promote events or recruit new members for their clubs. The College of Fine Arts and School of Law are through the mall to the east. The eastern end of the main campus contains the football stadium and other athletic fields. The South Mall leads down to Littlefield Fountain, a monument unveiled as a World War I memorial in 1933.
Austin is the capital of Texas and is widely recognized as a live music center – in fact, the city has more places to hear live music than any other US city. This cosmopolitan city has much to offer UT students and Austin residents show their support for the university, especially by coming out for the Longhorns on game days.
Less than a mile from the University of Texas campus you will find the Texas State Capitol building which has a deeply rooted history of its own. Surrounding the capitol is a busy downtown area filled with impressive buildings, art, and culture. It is home to fine restaurants, almost 20 museums and 50 art galleries, frequent live music events, and a buzzing nightlife very popular amongst UT students.
At the center of downtown Austin is Town Lake, which includes an eleven-mile hike and bike trail, Auditorium Shores, a park area for events and concerts, and Zilker Park, where on a sunny day you can find hundreds of college students swimming, sunning, and playing sports. In between classes, students take a break to eat and shop at a wide variety of boutiques and restaurants on Guadalupe Street, or ‘The Drag,’ located on the western-most border of UT’s main campus.
Students make the “Hook ‘em Horns” hand signal at games and other events to show their spirit. The signal was created in 1955 by UT-Austin head cheerleader Harley Clark, Jr.
Every year, UT-Austin holds the Hex Rally pep rally one week before the annual football game against their instate rivals, the Texas A&M Aggies.
The Red River Shootout is the UT-Austin football game against the school’s biggest out of state rivals, the University of Oklahoma. The name comes from the Red River, which is part of the boundary that divides Texas from Oklahoma.
Operated by the student spirit group the Texas Cowboys, Smokey the Cannon is at every home game and is fired whenever the Longhorns score, at kickoff, and at the end of each quarter.
Roger Clemens (attended) is a former Major league Baseball player who was drafted out of UT Austin in 1983.
Walter Cronkite (attended) was the longtime anchor of the CBS Evening News.
Michael Dell (attended) is the founder of Dell, Inc. He left UT when the computer company he started in his dorm room became successful.
Lady Bird Johnson (1933) was first lady of the United States from 1963 to 1969. She was known as an environmental advocate and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Honor.
Kay Bailey Hutchinson (1962) is the senior senator from Texas.
Betty Nguyen (1995) is a co-anchor and correspondent on CNN.
Matthew McConaughey is a successful comedy actor who is often seen at Longhorn football games.
Renee Zellweger (1992) is an Academy Award-winning actress.
UT-Austin has long been-known for its successful sports teams and diehard fans. In a 2002 cover story, Sports Illustrated magazine ranked UT-Austin first among the nation’s 324 Division I athletic programs. Each year, approximately 23,000 students also participate in intramural sports, forming over 100 teams on campus.
“Longhorn football and basketball are overall the most popular sports for the student population and the general public. First, the Longhorns have won the third most games overall compared to any other college football program. Texas has won a total of four national championships in 1963, 1969, 1970, and 2005. Two Texas players have earned the Heisman Trophy, the highest honor for a college football player - Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, both wore their burnt orange proudly.
Indeed, Texas fans have become accustomed to this winning tradition and show immense school spirit and support for their football team. On a typical game day, a sea of burnt orange fills Darrell K. Royal Texas-Memorial Stadium. Tailgates are set up the night before a game, and fans are ready to cheer on their team in the often blistering Texas heat. Basketball is not as huge as football but is still very much a part of the Longhorn winning tradition. Texas basketball has received national recognition in recent years under head coach Rick Barnes.”
Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson met and became friends at the University of Texas, where Anderson was majoring in philosophy and Wilson in English. They eventually wrote three movies together: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and the Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson also wrote and directed The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited, and Wilson has starred in several successful movies including Wedding Crashers, Zoolander, and Meet the Fockers.
Man of the House is a movie that features Tommy Lee Jones as an undercover cop posing as an assistant cheerleading coach to protect the only witnesses to a murder, a group of University of Texas cheerleaders. Man of the House was the first movie to receive permission from UT to represent well-known school symbols in their movie such as the Tower, the cheerleaders, the band, and Bevo, the longhorn mascot.
Janis Joplin was once named “Ugliest Man on Campus” in a fraternity prank when she attended there in the ‘60s.
UT-Austin does not guarantee housing and does not require freshmen to live on campus. Applicants are encouraged to apply for housing as soon as possible as there are a limited number of spots on campus.
“Lovingly referred to as Jesta’, Jester is the primary dorm on campus, and one of the biggest in the United States. Located on Speedway and 21st, Jester is divided into east and west wings. Parts of Jester West have suite-style bathrooms that connect two separate rooms, and the rest of Jester West and Jester East have community bathrooms with sinks in each room. Jester’s variety of eating options and proximity to Gregory Gym and the Perry-Castañeda Library make it a convenient place to live. However, students tend to complain about too much noise and the ‘Jester smell’ that supposedly infects the hallways.
Students accepted into honors programs at UT are invited to live in the Honors Dormitories. These are Carothers, Andrews, and Blanton. Together, these dorms form the Honors Quad, along with Littlefield, an all-girls dorm with a café on its lower level. The ‘special invitation’ to live in the Quad is somewhat deceiving. Although they have certain advantages, the dorms, particularly Blanton, are far from better than the others. However, they do offer a tight-knit community that makes the campus seem smaller, allowing otherwise quiet or shy students to make friends more easily.
Duran and San Jacinto, the two newest residence halls on campus, are the five-star hotels of the UT dorms. Brand new, Duran has spacious rooms and private bathrooms. A couple of years older, San Jacinto has a delicious café/market. However, students complain that because of their nice, secluded rooms, Duran and San Jacinto fail to foster a good social environment.
About half of the dorms on campus eat in the J2, Jester’s cafeteria, and the other half eat at the cafeteria in Kinsolving, an all-girls dorm on the opposite end of campus. Because of its enormous student body, UT has many other residence halls. Lesser known dorms include Brackenridge, Moorehill, Roberts, Simkins, and Whitis Court.”