Jay Hartzell has been at UT for nearly two decades, most recently as the Dean of the McCombs School of Business. Hartzell, a UT graduate, is taking over after the departure of President Gregory L. Fenves for Emory University in Atlanta. Austin on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. [LOLA GOMEZ / AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

BEVO BEAT Football

Interim Texas president Jay Hartzell addresses race issues, avoids ‘The Eyes’ for now

Posted June 15th, 2020

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In a statement, interim Texas president Jay Hartzell announced Monday he would “listen closely” to those on campus about racial inequities and formulate a plan this summer but did not address the furor created over the Longhorns players’ requests last week.

Hartzell mentioned nothing about changing “The Eyes of Texas,” the school song, or renaming several buildings on campus — two main points outlined in the athletes’ coordinated social media posts last Friday.

“During the past few days, I have heard from many students, alumni, faculty and staff asking for meaningful changes to promote diversity and equity and ensure that Black students at UT are fully supported,” Hartzell wrote in a statement posted on the UT president’s website.

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“It is important, first, for me to listen closely — and then to work with the entire community to develop a plan to move the university forward.

“These letters, calls and petitions come amid the national outrage over the killing of George Floyd and other Black people by police,” Hartzell continued. “They reflect the deep pain and frustration that many of you feel about where we are as a society and a university.

“I have begun scheduling conversations with students, including leaders of Black student organizations and student athletes, as well as other community members to hear their concerns and ideas directly.

RELATED: The Dotted Line: Recruits react to Texas players call for change of building names, ‘Eyes of Texas’

RELATED: A history of ‘The Eyes of Texas’: Song performed at minstrel shows is now part of every-day UT life

Hartzell said that by working together, “we will create a plan this summer to address these issues, do better for our students and help overcome racism.

“I thank you for your ideas and ongoing guidance and welcome your emails and suggestions,” Hartzell concluded. “I pledge that we will come together as a community to make The University of Texas an even greater place.”

In the athletes’ requests issued last Friday, there was no specific deadline stated to changes. All the athletes said was that if no changes were made, they would not longer participate in recruiting future athletes or help in donor events.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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