We already know that Texas Engineering faculty and students are changing the world, but behind the scenes, staff and administrators are the ones keeping things running smoothly. From alumni outreach to student life programming, staff members dedicate themselves to improving and advancing the Cockrell School. Read about two of our many “unsung heroes,” and find out what inspires them to build a better Texas Engineering experience for the next generation.


John C. Halton


Title: Associate Dean for School and Alumni Relations

Years at the Cockrell School: 30

John Halton has certainly made his mark on the Cockrell School community. Over the past three decades, he has spent countless hours, often traveling all over the country, to visit with thousands of alumni and friends of the school and help gain their loyal support — both figuratively and financially.

Throughout his tenure as the school’s chief fundraiser, two new engineering buildings have been built, a new department has been established, and thousands of Texas Engineering students have received scholarships and fellowships that have changed their lives.

Halton plans to retire during this academic year. While he looks forward to spending more time with his family, especially his granddaughters, and logging more hours on his kayak, he says he hopes to use the experience gained at the Cockrell School to help other organizations that don’t have the resources to hire a fundraiser.

“I have truly enjoyed the work I’ve done here at UT Austin,” Halton said. “The world runs on volunteers — those who step up to build something better, raise money for others or lend a helping hand. I’m just grateful to have been able to do my part for this outstanding community.”

There are thousands of people who work together to make this school as great as it is — I just have the privilege of being one of many, doing my small part in making this a top-tier engineering school.

— John C. Halton


Sarah Kitten


Title: Academic Advising Coordinator
Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Years at the Cockrell School: 10

As academic advising coordinator, Sarah Kitten does a lot more than simply offer advice about what classes to take. She also administers course scheduling, assists with curriculum development, spearheads student recruitment and retention, facilitates scholarships, supervises peer advisors and oversees a robust student advisory council.

And students have clearly benefitted from her efforts. Throughout Kitten’s office are letters, photos, artwork and knick-knacks from former students. One particular photo of an aircraft that refuels other planes mid-flight was given to her by a student saying it reminded her of Kitten always being there to cheer her on during difficult days as an undergraduate.

Kitten also has assisted with campaigns to increase female and underrepresented minority retention rates and, as a result, has seen the department’s female retention rate double in the past five years.

“The most important thing to me is making certain that we’re creating a welcoming environment that allows all students to get the absolute most out of their time here and have access to what they need to be successful people and engineers,” Kitten said.

It’s so rewarding to see the immense change in a student over four years — they enter the school as young adults, and you get to see the transformation they make into ambitious, driven professionals. The fact that I get to have a hand in that is just so cool.

— Sarah Kitten

Texas Engineer Monogram