University spent seven times original estimate on Fenves’ inauguration

Matthew Adams

After originally reporting president Gregory Fenves’ inauguration would cost $28,000, recent records show that the final cost totaled over $200,000.

University spokesman Gary Susswein confirmed in September a $28,000 price tag for the inauguration. Susswein said these costs came from private donations and did not come from tax dollars or tuition.

The Dallas Morning News released an updated cost sheet last week, obtained through open records requests, showing the event cost $214,474.27, covered by gifts and donations to the University.

Other figures included spending $2,750 to shuttle Austin Independent School District students to perform with the choir in the Butler School of Music and $4,900 for a teleprompter coach. The University spent $91,150 for audio during the event, and almost $25,000 was spent on a video showing Fenves’ vision of UT, according The Morning News’ open records request.     

Margo Iwanski, assistant to the vice president, told The Morning News the $28,000 was the final response to an open records request, which occurred before the inauguration and before all costs were accounted for.

University spokesman J.B. Bird also told The Dallas Morning News that the University should not have said $28,000 was the final cost.

“This is one of our signature events on par with commencement, Gone to Texas and Explore UT,” Bird said to The Morning News. “It helps set the trajectory of the new president. These signature events have some of the qualities of major concerts and theatrical productions, so they are expensive to put on. We like to do things big and bold here at Texas, and that includes the inauguration of new president.”