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2009 Worthington Essay Prize

Worthington Essay Contest Prize Winners, 2009:

Topic: Re-use of donated land

Background: You are a prominent Texas citizen, graduate of UT in Plan II, and successful in banking and commercial real estate. The governor of Texas appointed you to the University of Texas System Board of Regents in large part because you supported her campaign by your $500K donation and you are a big supporter of UT Austin.

As a regent you must deal with the responsible fostering of a network of campuses and medical schools. Your developer friends, all big donors to UT, and the governor, have a plan to a develop valuable urban property donated to UT over 100 years ago by a family who wished that the land be used to benefit education at UT Austin. 

The problem is that a core part of the tract along the Colorado River has a 40‐year history as a vital ecological field station. In an era when study of the environment has never been more urgent, this facility supports the recruitment of top graduate students and faculty in the fields of ecology, evolution and behavioral biology at UT and provides unique place for hands‐on teaching near campus. The proposed plan will replace the field station with a golf course and condominiums. Converting the tract to cash will support biomedical, nanotechnology and computer science at UT and throughout the UT System beyond the flagship campus. Full development is seen as beneficial to developers, the city, and the university, as well as to students who will pay less tuition because of the deal. As a regent you must decide whether to vote for redevelopment of the university‐owned land or against it.

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