Famous Texas Alums

By Rebecca N. Adams (2018)

Alright, Alright, Alright… We all know that the University of Texas at Austin is not just a national treasure with a worldly presence. The University’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” is no joke. Just go anywhere – London, Tokyo, Cape Town, Minsk – and you’ll find a Longhorn.

Members of the Texas Exes – UT’s alumni group (not the George Strait Song) – are doing BIG things across the globe. Think you don’t know a famous Longhorn? Check out these names: Farrah Fawcett, Janis Joplin, Neil Tyson, Vince Young… If nothing sounds familiar, take a look below at our extremely limited list of Texas alumni to see just how vast the UT network truly is.

  1. Matthew McConaughey (McConaughBAE) – Writer/Actor

A Texas Alumni favorite, Matthew is always in burnt orange. Besides being an Academy Award winner, Matthew spends a lot of his time on campus as a radio, television, and film lecturer, celebrity football coach, and Safe Walk’s most famous chauffer/student driver. Matthew cannot get enough of Texas, and we can’t get enough of him. (Dallas Buyers Club, Magic Mike, Interstellar, The Wolf of Wall Street)

Years Attended UT-Austin: 1989-1993

Major(s) Studied: Radio Television and Film, Moody College of Communication

  1. Michael Dell – Entrepreneur/Philanthropist/Author

Ranked the 39th richest man by Forbes, Michael Dell’s legacy stands tall and proud on the Forty Acres. His philanthropy with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation funds the Computer Science building on campus as well as provides $50 million in student research grants to numerous organizations associated with the University of Texas.
Years Attended UT-Austin: 1983-1984

Major(s) Studied: Biology, Natural Sciences

  1. Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson – Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Actor

This iconic duo happened to be roommates at UT. Dorm room best friends to Academy Award winners is the ultimate best friend goal. Both highly acclaimed stars started out by making short films right here on UT’s campus and have most likely captured your heart with their movies. (Grand Budapest Hotel, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom –Anderson) & (Zoolander, Bottle Rocket, Midnight in Paris, Wedding Crashers – Wilson)
Years Attended UT-Austin: 1986-1990 and 1987-1991

Major(s) Studied: Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts; English, College of Liberal Arts

  1. Rex Tillerson – Texas Oilman/United States Secretary of State

ExxonMobil royalty and former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson is not your average UT alum. His overseeing of Exxon’s $400 billion revenue makes him one of the most successful UT engineering alums. Rex rose through the ranks of Exxon after starting out as a production engineer straight out of college.
Years Attended UT-Austin: 1975

Major(s) Studied: Civil Engineering, Cockrell Schools of Engineering

  1. Laura Bush and Lady Bird Johnson – Educators/First Ladies

These first ladies led the way when it comes to education and women’s rights. Not only does the University of Texas benefit from their legacy, but so does Texas. The Laura Bush Library is right off Bee Cave, while the Lady Bird Wildflower Center resides in the heart of Austin. Best known for the Beautification Act of 1965, Lady Bird is responsible for the millions of wildflowers that bloom along Texas highways each spring.
Years Attended UT-Austin: 1969-1973 and 1929-1934

Major(s) Studied: Master in Library Science, School of Information and History; Journalism, Moody College of Communication

  1. Joseph Schooling – Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming

Joseph Schooling is a current student at UT and proudly wears the only gold medal in swimming for Singapore. Although Schooling has this spot on our list, over 100 University of Texas Athletes have obtained Olympic Athlete status, with 25 Olympic Athletes who competed in the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016. If those numbers don’t amaze you, UT’s Football program has produced over 300 NFL/AFL players. If that doesn’t impress you, then what will…?
Years Attended UT-Austin: 2014-current

Major(s) Studied: Economics, College of Liberal Arts

  1. Renee Zellweger – Actress/Producer

This woman has won it all: an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and more. Renee is hands down our most successful entertainer to grace the land of burnt orange. Not only is she an award-winning actress, but Zellweger has also donated time and resources to cancer research and the GREAT Initiative, a gender equality foundation. (Cold Mountain, Chicago, Bridget Jones’ Diary)
Years Attended UT-Austin: 1987-1991

Major(s) Studied: English, College of Liberal Arts

  1. Kevin Durant – NBA Basketball

Despite his one-and-done year at the Forty Acres, KD comes back to UT basketball every year to treat the team with coaching expertise and his own line of Nike athletic gear. Saying that Durant is doing well is an understatement as he is one of the highest-earning basketball players in the world. He isn’t just an all-star on the court… He’s also a successful business man, investor, and philanthropist.
Years Attended UT-Austin: 2006-2007

Major(s) Studied: Education and Social Work, College of Education

  1. Billy Joe “Red” McCombs – Business Billionaire/Entrepreneur/Author

We couldn’t make this list without Red McCombs. Self-made billionaire and entrepreneur, the McCombs School of Business is a product of Red’s $50 million donation to the University. He is a Texas business man and author of his book which showcases the Texas Three C’s: “Cars, Cows and Coaches.”

Major(s) Studied: MBA, now the McCombs School of Business

  1. Gary Kelly – Chairman and CEO/CPA, Southwest Airlines

A Texas Accounting Alumni, Kelly helped Southwest Airlines become the nation’s top airline. Not only is Southwest booming, but it also boasts a spot on Fortune magazine’s list for most admired companies in the world. At the University of Texas, Gary Kelly was just like you: a hard working business student aiming to get his CPA certification. Although Kelly is a top business mogul today, Kelly continues to aid the University of Texas at Austin by serving on the McCombs School Advisory Council.
Years Attended UT-Austin: 1973-1977

Major(s) Studied: Accounting, McCombs School of Business

For an extended list of the Texas Exes, click here.