Frank C. Erwin, Jr.
Former Chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents
No name is more synonymous with the University of Texas System Board of Regents than that of Frank C. Erwin, Jr.
A major force in Texas politics during the 1960s and early 70s, Erwin's foremost passion was the University of Texas. From 1963 to 1975 he sat on the University of Texas System Board of Regents and was chairman from 1966 to 1971. Working closely with his political allies in the Texas Legislature, he increased university appropriations from $40.4 million in 1963-64 to $349.7 million in 1975-76. Building contracts issued by the regents during Erwin's tenure totaled more than $762 million.
Erwin began his political career in 1961, assisting Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally in his campaign for Texas governor. His relationship with Connally led to a friendship with Lyndon B. Johnson, with whom Erwin worked closely for the development of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus at Austin. In 1972 Erwin was appointed to the board of directors of the LBJ Family Foundation, a position he retained until his death.
He died of a heart attack on October 1, 1980. Before the funeral, his body lay in state in the Great Hall of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, an honor previously granted only to Johnson himself. His funeral was held at the University Special Events Center, later renamed the Frank C. Erwin, Jr., Special Events Center to honor his legacy.