SAC honors UT's unofficial historian

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The University is dedicating the ground floor atrium of the SAC to one of the school’s distinguished alumni, Margaret C. Berry. President Bill Powers announced the desicion in early January, and the dedication will take place today in the SAC at

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

After her lifetime of dedication to the UT community, the University is honoring one distinguished alumna in a very special way.

Today marks the dedication of the ground floor atrium of the Student Activity Center to 1937 UT alumna Margaret C. Berry. The dedication comes after nearly 80 years of Berry’s University involvement, in which she was an administrator, teacher, historian and mentor to thousands of UT students. Berry’s accomplishments include writing 10 books and her doctorate dissertation about UT-related topics, earning her the nickname of UT’s unofficial historian. The festivities will consist of a ceremony outside of the SAC, which begins at 11:30 a.m., a luncheon reception following the ceremony and a private dinner with Berry and some of her former students.

Rick Potter, 1977 UT alumnus and volunteer with Students for the Margaret C. Berry Student Activity Center, said the honoring of Berry comes after an extensive and widespread campaign.

“She touched so many parts of the campus,” he said. “So, about two years ago a number of current and former students started discussing the idea of honoring her contributions to the University, and they soon began a grassroots campaign to encourage the UT administration to recognize her by naming some portion of the University after her. Over 5000 students, faculty, alumni and friends endorsed the initiative, and in early January UT President Bill Powers announced the decision.”

The SAC seemed like a logical choice in honoring Berry due to her extensive campus involvement, Potter said.

“It’s really the nucleus of the campus,” he said. “This makes it an ideal place to honor someone so involved in the UT community.”

Berry said she was deeply touched by the initiative and all the support it received.

“This whole thing has overwhelmed me,” she said. “I’m pretty emotional and I hope I can hold up. It’s not going to be easy.”

Thomas Jenkins, 1960 UT alumnus and former colleague of Berry’s, said the commemoration is well-deserved.

“In the 42 years that I have spent in public higher education, I have never known a more student-oriented person,” he said. “She was the best student advocate on campus and always in the student’s corner. I think she’s just a marvelous lady who has lived a nice, long life and deserves all the honors that can be bestowed upon her.”

Berry said at age 96 she is still learning, as she is active on campus through participation on scholarship committees, guest lecture appearances and reading The Daily Texan.

“We always continue learning,” she said. “We just never stop.”

Leslie Cedar, CEO and Executive Director of Texas Exes, said the commemoration couldn’t be more fitting.

“Margaret C. Berry is the quintessential UT alumna,” Cedar said. “She has dedicated her life to promoting, preserving and celebrating the University of Texas. Renaming the student activity center atrium in her honor is a fitting tribute for a woman who has made such a profound and lasting contribution to the University of Texas.”

Printed on Friday, April 13, 2012 as: Student Activity Center honors alumna