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What ‘Legacy’ Means to UT’s Minister of Culture and Me

When the Nov/Dec 2019 issue of the University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine hit my mailbox with actor Matthew McConaughey’s sly smile on the cover, I will admit my interest in reading The Alcalde ran deeper than usual. Chris O’Connell’s feature story “Role of a Lifetime” about the Academy Award winner’s new faculty position sparked both pride in my alma mater and appreciation for what it means to live with legacy in mind.

“McConaughey, it seems, is taking stock of his life as he hits the half-century mark, trying to figure out if he likes what he sees,” writes O’Connell. Taking stock for Matthew involves a writing project he’s undertaking in Fort Davis, Texas, along with two exciting new jobs: Professor of Practice for the Moody College of Communication and the University of Texas’ first-ever Minister of Culture.

“Ministers of Culture outside of America are in charge of overseeing youth, sports, music, and tourism and culture,” says McConaughey. “What a great thing to be in charge of. Culture has been my greatest educator.”

The words of 50-year-old Matthew have more weight than his words did at 23, when the UT alum (BS, ’93) debuted in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. I first saw that film in Austin’s Dobie Theater when I was a college junior in 1993. After that, I watched McConaughey rise to fame as the lead in a number of blockbusters. But his latest role is his most intriguing yet.

“I’m choosing legacy: things that will pay me back on the inside, my own spirit, and pay my family back. Not cash. Things of value. That’s cultivation. That’s good culture.”
  – Matthew McConaughey

“When it was announced that he had officially been appointed our ‘Minister of Culture,’ I had a good laugh. But then quickly realized this guy is dead serious about this job,” writes Chuck Harris, executive director of the Texas Exes in his introductory letter to The Alcalde. “And now, UT has figured out a way to channel his unmatchable energy and talent into something that is game-changing. He really is part of our team – and part of our legacy.”

As McConaughey embarks on the role of a lifetime, I’m doing the same with Heirloom Digital, a new multimedia company dedicated to helping you preserve your heritage, tell your story and share your legacy. In leading this business, I have the privilege of working with an outstanding creative team to bring legacies to life.

Matthew’s opportunity to use the platform he earned as a celebrity to influence the lives of students is one that many of us already have as parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and friends. When we show up to support, nurture, teach and lift others up when they need it most, we are serving as ministers of culture in our own spheres of influence.

Each of us knows people who look to us for guidance or wisdom. We also know people whose lives have inspired us, or whose memory we yearn to preserve. Using the power of the media to capture the insights, experiences and memories of our families and organizations has tremendous cultural value – not only for posterity, but also to share with others, right now.

Watch this space for more inspiration and information on how to bring your legacy to life. A story well told can last for generations – and our purpose is to help you tell yours.

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