The Academy of Distinguished Alumni inducted two posthumous members for the first time in its history. The two members, T.U. Taylor and Ervin S. Perry, were renowned throughout the University as pioneers, each achieving a number of firsts in their individual careers. They were inducted on November 4, 2022 at the annual Academy Induction Ceremony and Banquet held at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center.

This is the first time that the Academy has inducted posthumous members after a change in its bylaws in 2021. The Academy’s president, Jimmy Canning, stated "Last year, the Academy members agreed to allow Posthumous Membership into the Academy. It’s only fitting that the first 2 Posthumous Members inducted into the Academy, Dr. Ervin S. Perry and Dean Thomas Ulvan (TU) Taylor, are full of firsts themselves, so this will be just one ‘first’ for them.”

Dr. Perry’s family was in attendance of the ceremony, and his induction certificate was accepted by his nephew, Kasden Perry Williams. Dr. Perry’s daughter, Edna Perry, was also in attendance, and was happy to see her father honored by the department. “My family and I were so excited to learn of our father being inducted to the Academy of Distinguished Alumni for the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering,” she said.  “We were equally excited to attend the banquet and meet the other Inductees.  Thank you for the recognition, and for remembering his contributions”.


The family of Ervin S. Perry attended the Academy of Distinguished Alumni Banquet on November 4, 2022 to honor his induction into the Academy. From left to right: Department Chair Bob Gilbert, Leon Williams, Patricia Perry-Williams, Academy President-Elect Jimmy Canning, Kasden Perry Williams, Edna Perry, and Academy President Randall Poston.

Dr. Ervin S. Perry

Dr. Perry earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Prairie View A&M in 1956, then served as an officer in the U.S. Army until 1958. He became an instructor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before entering graduate school at UT Austin in 1959, only a few years after the University started admitting Black graduate students, but left for a brief stint to serve as an instructor at his alma mater, Prairie View A&M.

In 1960, Perry returned to Austin and re-entered UT’s civil engineering graduate program, earning his master’s degree in 1961 and continuing on for his doctorate. One of only a small number of Black graduate students at the University during this time, he was the first Black engineering PHD student at UT. His research areas as a graduate student focused on materials science and structural mechanics, and he coauthored several publications on energy absorption of lightweight aggregate concrete and foamed plastics. After earning his Ph.D. in civil engineering from UT in 1964, Perry joined the faculty as an assistant professor, becoming the first Black faculty member at the University and the first at a predominantly white university in the South.

Perry became the first Black member of the Travis Chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers and was elected chapter director in 1966. From 1967 to 1968, Perry served as assistant to the president of Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia as a fellow in the Ford Foundation Academic Administration Internship Program. He served as acting chairman of UT’s Civil Engineering Department in 1969 and was promoted to associate professor the same year.

Perry tragically died of cancer in 1970. While he was only 35 when he died, his legacy will live on forever, inspiring future generations of not only Texas Engineers but all engineers to live with purpose and follow their ambitions. Each year, UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering Department of Civil Architectural, and Environmental Engineering presents the Ervin S. Perry Award to a faculty member “who best meets the ideals of an excellent teacher and good friend” is given the Ervin S. Perry Award, as chosen by students.

Thomas U. Taylor

Thomas U. Taylor was a civil engineer, receiving his degree from the University of Virginia in 1883, and his masters from Cornell University in 1895. He taught applied mathematics at the University of Texas, and was the only engineering professor until 1901. In 1907, Taylor became the University’s first Dean of Engineering. Under him, engineering enrollment increased from twenty-one in 1888 to 1,443 in 1936. He signed the first civil engineering degree given by the University in 1888, and before retiring granted 1,699 degrees in engineering, including the university’s first M.S. in engineering in 1922.

Taylor initiated the Big Brothers’ Fund and the Engineers’ Loan Fund, later renamed the T. U. Taylor Foundation, and he worked to establish honor and service organizations for engineering students. His personal symbol, a ram’s horn or flourishing check mark with which he marked perfect examinations, became well-known and was for a time the emblem of the College of Engineering.

Taylor was especially interested in problems of water power, irrigation, and bridge construction. He was the first state hydrographic engineer for the United States Geological Survey from 1897 to 1912 and a consulting engineer for many public works, including the Oak Cliff viaduct in Dallas, the new Austin dam in 1926, and the state highway system. He served one term as President of the Texas Academy of Science, and later Vice President of the American Society for Engineering Education. He was elected the first member of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers in 1937 and in 1940 became the first Texan elected an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.