Coming from out of state hearing the UT alma mater “The Eyes of Texas” was a little unsettling. Really, the Eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away… To be honest, prior to hearing (and, yes, singing) the song, I thought about Walker, Texas Ranger. Turns out that whether it’s Chuck Norris or the larger UT community, the Eyes of Texas truly are all around you.
In the time that it took me to leave Arkansas and have a layover in Atlanta, I ran into a UT grad on her way back to DC. The brief conversation we had about her job and my reasons for going to DC proved fruitful for both of us. I found out that having regional expertise in Central and Eastern Europe could be marketable in the Commerce Department, and she found a person to chat with about grad school considerations. It was a good start to what has been a useful summer.
The next few days brought more Texas connections to the surface. Here at CEPA, the president is from Texas, as is the chairman; the fellow I am working with on energy security worked with our Dean Robert Hutchings when they both had posts in Eastern Europe; one of the other interns who is here for the summer is a UT grad; and then there are the random sightings around town of fellow classmates and professors.
About my second week in town, I took my lunch to the Dupont Circle benches. The weather was delightful, which inspired many others to come to the circle. Thus, my lunch hour was perfect for people watching. A few times I thought I saw a couple of my classmates who I knew to either be in Brazil or Austin. Then, I thought I saw one of our professors, Prof. Bobby Chesney. I quickly dismissed the thought, but couldn’t shake the uncanny similarities that this person had with Prof. Chesney.
Just as an emergency vehicle was making its daily run through the circle, it became apparent that this was no doppelganger, that it was actually Prof. Chesney! You could say that the sirens went off… ha.
Once I got his attention and provided the context for how he might know my face, he and I quickly chatted about our reasons for being in town. He had come in to conduct a few interviews for the Strauss Center and the Clements Center about the future of intelligence reform.
I’ve become convinced that the Eyes of Texas might be more widespread than any form of US intelligence, and are looking out for you.
Echoing a point that grows in significance the closer my graduation date comes, UT’s reach is regional, national, and international. Former LBJ professor and Director of the Strauss Center Dr. Francis Gavin underscored this point in his recent article written on behalf of President Powers:
Imagine the university you run is the most widely regarded symbol of your great state around the world, that on any given day in Tokyo, Dubai or Mexico City, two strangers in burnt orange will see each other on the street, smile, and give the universal sign — hook ’em horns. (emphasis added)
UT and the LBJ School really do have a presence in DC, and we will continue to grow that presence in the coming years with the new DC campus at the Archer Center, the continual work done by the Strauss Center, and the growth of the Clements Center.*
*Certainly, I have overlooked multiple research centers at the LBJ School, which include the Center for Politics and Governance, Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP), RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service, and Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy.