UT Hired Consultant for up to $1.1 Million to Revamp Battered Image of “Eyes of Texas” Song

Culture

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As outrage swirled among University of Texas at Austin students last fall over the school’s alma mater, “The Eyes of Texas,” and its early association with campus minstrel shows, President Jay Hartzell made a classic higher education decision: He organized a committee. This one, he said, would include 24 Longhorn athletes, historians, professors and students who would investigate and “chronicle the full history of ‘The Eyes’ and recommend ways we can openly acknowledge, share and learn from it.” But by the time the group released its final report in March, a new name had quietly been added to its ranks: Brad Deutser, a Houston consultant who helps organizations with everything from company culture to crisis communications and branding. In fact, UT-Austin had hired Deutser and his company to two contracts worth up to $1.1 million to revamp the image of the alma mater, along with broader organizational projects including a new communication and engagement strategy for the university, and defining “what it means to be a Longhorn,” according to copies of the contracts obtained by The Texas Tribune through an open records request. Ultimately, the committee’s report concluded the intent of the song was “not overtly racist,” and could not...

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