Texas Friar Society

Since 1911, the Friar Society has recognized students who have made significant contributions to The University of Texas, and is the oldest honor society at the University.

Darren Walker

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented each fall semester to a Friar alumni voted on by the current Society membership. The recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award embodies the Friar Society’s core values of history, service, and honor.

 

Meet Our Members

Friars are those students who have made the highest kind of significant contributions to the University of Texas. Click here to meet them.

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Upcoming Events

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Members Only

Database for members of the Friar Society.

SPRING 2018 MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION NOW OPEN

ABOUT US


In the late months of 1910, Curtice Rosser conceived of creating a senior society for students at the University of Texas, since no such organization existed at that time. Rosser asked Marion S. Levy to meet with him in his room at the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house. Together, Rosser and Levy set forth the founding characteristics of the group, which was to admit four men from the junior and senior classes to be selected not primarily on the basis of scholarship, but on the basis of a significant contribution to the University through activity in the various representative phases of university life. As they included others in their discussions in the early part of 1911, the name and symbol of the Friar was agreed upon, and eight members were admitted to the charter group.

Since these humble beginnings in the spring of 1911, the Friar Society has grown into one of the finest “ forces for good” in the University and in the state of Texas. The organization and its members have served their university, state, and nation well over the last 90 years as governors, ambassadors, university chancellors, faculty members and presidents, regents, congressmen and congresswomen, judges, and state legislators. Members of the Society have built the University and Texas through well-placed political and social influence, and through hard work outside their professional fields.

Wherever a Friar goes, he or she pays heed to the words of the Society’s sacred admonition to “be ever studious of conditions, needs, and the trend of the times, and be ever anxious to lend a hand in the social, moral, and intellectual uplift of that society wherein it may be [their] lot to dwell.”

The Society Constitution drafted by Rosser and Levy in 1911 states the following as the Society’s purpose: “to associate together leading members of the senior or graduate classes for mutual benefit and cooperation, and to promote the best interests of the University and the student body.” While this simple statement is not very revealing at face value, it is the core of how the members of the Society, both active and alumni, work together for the common good of not only the University—though this is the focus of the Society’s efforts—but also that of “ the society wherein it may be [their] lot to dwell.”

Since the early months of 1911, the traditions of the Society and the process by which it selects its members have been under a cloak of secrecy known only to Friars. The Society’s secrecy is necessary to maintain the organization’s integrity, to prevent the “solicitation” of membership for private gain, and to allow the Society to accomplish its ends in the most efficient and productive manner.

The aspects of the Society’s traditions and selection process described here on this website are only those necessary to paint an accurate historical picture of the Society’s progress over the last century, and to give the reader a basis upon which to reflect and formulate his or her own opinion of the Society.

Active members of the Society go through great pains to seek out and confirm those students who have made significant contributions toward the betterment of the University. It is essential that each prospective member have made a significant contribution to the University of Texas while a student at the University. Such contribution may be tangible or intangible, one act or many, and must be marked by individual innovation and unusual accomplishment in some area related to the University.

For the first 37 years of the Society’s existence, four students each from the junior and senior classes were admitted into the society. Seniors were admitted in the fall before their graduation. Juniors were admitted in the spring, contingent upon their continuation at the University as seniors. Only one exception to this early rule was ever made: In the fall of 1925 there were only three junior members returning for their senior year, so five junior-class men were selected in accordance with the Society’s preference of maintaining an active membership of eight.

With the return of men from World War II, the University of Texas saw dramatic growth. Accordingly, in 1948 the Friar Society saw fit to amend the Society’s Constitution to allow for a maximum of twelve initiates to be selected each year—six each semester. This change was first implemented in the spring of 1949. This had the effect of changing the Society from one that was obscure and highly secretive to one which began have a bit more visibility. But what didn’t change was the Society’s aversion to minimum initiate class size quotas. If there were ever a shortage of qualified candidates, fewer were selection. The Friar Society has always placed the highest premium on the quality of its initiates and integrity of the selection process, regardless of numbers.

Since then, the class-and-semester distinction has been replaced by a general 75-class-hours requirement (or graduate student status), though it is not clear when this change happened. What’s more, there is no longer a limit on the number of new members selected each semester. However, new member classes rarely exceed 12 per year.

For most of the Society’s history, membership was limited to men only. However, at a breakfast meeting among active Friars and alumni in spring of 1972, a heated debate broke out regarding the idea of integrating women.

In the early 1970s, no honorary society at the University was co-ed. Further, the Dean of Student Life, Arno “Shorty” Nowotny—a Friar himself—was vehemently opposed to admitting women to the Society. After long discussion, Friars Joe Krier and Sterling Holloway concluded that position papers should be drafted, with the goal to settle the matter six months later at the Friar’s fall 1972 meeting.

Friars in support of integrating women won out. Indeed, one of the strongest supporters of admitting women was Greg Lucia, who himself became Abbot in the spring 1973. On Sunday, March 25, 1973, in Room 143 of Townes Hall at the law school, active Friars selected the first women initiates: Cathy Alleman, Patti Biggers, Martha Hill, Diana Marshall, Jan Patterson, and Diane Wood. With that, the Friar Society became the first all-male organization to open its membership to women at UT.

The Friar Society’s 1911 Constitution established five officers: Abbott, Almoner, Scrivener, Councilor, and Summoner. Each officer must be an active Friar and holds his or her position for one semester.

The Abbot is the president of the Society. The Almoner is the treasurer. The Scrivener is the secretary. The Councilor organizes the new member selection process. The Summoner manages all social events.

2017 Distinguished Alumni Nomination

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented each fall semester to a Friar alumni voted on by the current Society membership. The recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award embodies the Friar Society’s core values of history, service, and honor.

2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Kevin Tuerff is our 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented each fall semester to a Friar alumni voted on by the current Society membership. The recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award embodies the Friar Society’s core values of history, service, and honor.

Kevin is a social entrepreneur with 25-years experience in marketing communications. He founded UT student-run radio station KVRX-FM, America Recycles Day, Pay it Forward 9/11, and in 1997, he co-founded EnviroMedia, America’s first environmental marketing agency.

He has given back to his alma mater through major gifts to the Moody College of Communication, guest lectures, mentoring students and serving as chair of the UT Environmental Science Institute advisory council for four years. He is a member of the Littlefield Society, Friar Society and Life Member of Texas Exes.

His 9/11 story inspired one of the onstage characters in the Tony-Award winning musical, “Come From Away.” In 2017, River Grove Books published Tuerff’s related memoir, “Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11.” Kevin gives talks to companies, churches and organizations on how “kindness to strangers can heal the divide.”

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2018 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship (FCTF)

Dear Longhorns,

The Friar Society is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship (FCTF). This fellowship, given annually to one outstanding teaching professor, is the largest faculty award at the university, totaling $25,000. A list of past recipients can be found here.
We invite you to nominate a professor who is deserving of this honor. Please note that only tenured or tenure-track faculty who teach undergraduate courses are eligible to receive the FCTF.
Semi-finalists for the award are determined solely on the basis of received nominations. Therefore, please be as elaborate and specific as possible.
Please submit nominations by 5pm on March 2, 2018. Late submissions will not be considered.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at friarCTF@gmail.com. We look forward to receiving your nominations!

Sincerely,
Lu Barraza and Rebecca Sostek
FCTF Co-Chairs

Alumni Call To Action

Members of the Friar Society can do the following to stay connected

Nominate

Click here to nominate UT staff and faculty for Friar awards.

RSVP For The Friar Cocktail

Click here for information and to RSVP for the upcoming Friar Cocktail.

RSVP For The Friar Breakfast

Click here for information and to RSVP for the upcoming Friar Breakfast.