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2009 Roger & Ann Worthington Essay Prize Competition

Sat, August 1, 2009


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 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.


In your essay defend your vote in terms of the best interests of UT students, their children, and their grandchildren. Address the ethical and practical considerations of both repurposing the land and of keeping the field laboratory intact.


Students are encouraged to research the Brackenridge Tract issue, including a visit to the Brackenridge Field Laboratory on Lake Austin Boulevard, to develop their case.

About the Worthington Essay Prize:

Plan II alumnus, Roger Worthington ('80), and his wife, Ann, provided funding for the annual Worthington Essay Prize beginning in 2002. Originally a single prize, now Plan II awards 3 prizes each year to Plan II students, including a first-year student prize. The essay topics have ranged from hypothetical scenarios to real‐world events and always challenge students to form an argument on one side of a debate, then present it convincingly.

Plan II recruits UT faculty members to be judges of the competition each year. In the spring semester, Plan II traditionally hosts a dinner for the winners and their guests. ALL Plan II students are eligible to enter.

Grand Prize: $2500

First-Year Student Prize: $1500 (unless Grand Prize winner)

Second Prize: $1000

Essay Instructions:

• There are no length requirements. The essay should be long enough to make a convincing argument, yet be clear and concise.

Past winning essays have been 5--7 double‐spaced pages, plus sources.

• Include a title page with your name, UT EID, email address, and your class (freshman, sophomore, etc.).

• Deadline: 5 p.m., October 2, 2009 Submit your essay to the Plan II Honors front desk. NO LATE ENTRIES.

• Students who receive financial aid should check with the UT Office of Student Financial Services to find out if winning a prize will affect their aid package.

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