Today’s stop on the tour will feature one of my favorite areas on the UT campus: the East Mall
The first thing you notice when you walk through the East Mall is the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which is only one of two statues of MLK on a college campus. Completed in 1999 this particular statue of MLK was put in place due to an initiate from Student Government, students wanted more diversity represented on campus, which is just one example of how influential Student Government is at UT Austin.
The East Mall is also home to some academic colleges as well! The Jackson School of Geosciences became its own college off of Natural Sciences due to alumnus and late Dallas oilman John A. Jackson, who gave $40 million in 2002 to establish the school and the rest of his estate in his will when he passed in 2003 totaling $272 million making it one of the largest benefactors ever to a single public university. On the off-campus Pickle Research Institute site, Geosciences has the largest fossil collection in Texas, 7th largest in the United States!
Another academic college in the East Mall is the College of Liberal Arts. The CLA building is one of the newest on campus, opening in the spring of 2013. The $87 million building was all paid for by the College of Liberal Arts (not from UT system or legislative funding) making it the first building on campus to do so. In addition to the College of Liberal Arts the CLA building has an entire floor for the college’s Naval, Army and Air Force ROTC units.
The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts is the only college to offer degrees in Latin American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and a bachelors in African and African American Studies as well. Additionally the College of Liberal Arts is one of four to offer Mexican American Studies, has the top Arabic program in the nation with the addition of the Arabic Flagship program and is one of three to offer a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies.
Finally, my favorite building on the entire UT campus is the Student Activity Center or the SAC. The SAC opened in the Spring of 2011 and is another example of the influence of Student Government. The building of the SAC was passed through student government in 2006 and has been paid for by students through their fees. The SAC was also built with sustainability in mind. Entering into a voluntary certificate program, the SAC strives to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating.
The SAC was built because students needed more space on campus so the SAC also includes rooms that the students needed space for, including: an auditorium that holds 495, food court, ballroom, legislative assembly room, black box theater, dance studios, study areas, Gender and Sexuality Center, Student Government office, and the Multicultural Engagement Center.