Students celebrate Thanks Day, generous UT alumni


A student writes a message on a giant thank you card during Thanks Day outside Gregory Gym Wednesday afternoon. Thanks day is organized to give a Texas-sized “Thank you” to everyone who has contributed to UT education.
Photo Credit: Yaguang Zhu | Daily Texan Staff

Nov. 6 was Election Day, and Nov. 22 is Thanksgiving. But according to the UT Development Office, November is also significant because it is the month classes would end if the University were funded by tuition and fees alone.

Student tuition and fees constitute a significantly larger portion of UT Austin’s annual budget than they did just a few decades ago. According to statistics from the UT Budget Office, tuition and fees comprise roughly 25 percent of this year’s $2.35 billion budget. In the 1984–1985 school year tuition and fees constitute 5 percent of the budget.

The rest of UT’s budget comes from outside sources, including state funding, research grants and alumni donations. These sources were the focus of Thanks Day, an event Students Hooked on Texas hosted Wednesday on Gregory Plaza. The student committee works with the University Development Office to raise funds for the University.

Sara Pratt, development specialist for annual giving programs, said Thanks Day provides students with a chance to acknowledge all of the people who make a UT education possible. 

“It takes so many people to make sure your education is the best you can make it while you’re here,” Pratt said. “It takes an entire community to educate a Longhorn.”

The focus of the event was a giant thank-you card addressed to “all who contribute to a Longhorn education.” Over the course of the day, students passing by Gregory Plaza signed the board and occasionally wrote longer messages of thanks. The event also featured free T-shirts, a photo booth and craft activities. In one of the craft activities, students decorated small coin banks, meant to be filled and returned at Students Hooked on Texas’ spring event, Spring Into Giving. Money collected from the banks will go toward the Student Emergency Fund, which assists UT students involved in extreme financial distress or other emergencies.

Kristi Bartlett, who is on the student executive board of Texas Exes, said she attended Thanks Day because she feels alumni have contributed significantly to her education.

“I’m an out-of-state student, so the support system the alumni provide is a large part of why I’m here,” Bartlett said. “I really wanted to come out and say thank you.”

English freshman Brianna Kerbow said Thanks Day highlighted sources of support that she feels are undervalued.

“A lot of alumni and donors really go unnoticed,” Kerbow said.

Thanks Day will ultimately be highlighted in promotional campaigns geared toward alumni.

“We create a video to send to a huge group of alumni so they know the students appreciate them,” Pratt said.