Arno (Shorty) Nowotny, University of Texas administrator, one of five children of Charles and Mary (Laux) Nowotny, was born in a log cabin at Crane's Mill, not far from New Braunfels, Texas, on July 29, 1899. The family moved in 1907 to Bartlett, where Nowotny graduated as valedictorian of his high school class in 1918. First as a tent boy and later as a platform manager, he spent thirteen summers with the Redpath Chautauqua. In the fall of 1918 he entered the University of Texas, where he worked to pay expenses, served as head cheerleader, helped organize the Texas Cowboys, and was elected to the Friar Society. He earned a B.A. degree in 1922, a J.D. in 1925, and an M.A. in 1932. After completing his law degree, Nowotny taught English and served as a counselor at Bartlett High School for a year before returning to the University of Texas in 1926 as part-time assistant to dean of student life V. I. Moore and part-time clerk in an Austin law office. He was made full-time assistant dean of men the next year and became dean of men in 1942. Nowotny became acting dean of student life in 1943, after Dean Moore retired, and dean in 1946.
As dean, he sponsored the Texas Cowboys, the Friar Society, Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Phi Omega, the Curtain Club, and the Longhorn Singers; he was founder of the annual Honors Day program and one of the founders of the UT Dads' Association. Nowotny served as president of both the Texas (1943) and National (1946) Association of Student Personnel Administrators and was honored by both groups. He was the third national president of Alpha Phi Omega (1946–50) and was awarded the Silver Beaver (1946) and the Silver Antelope (1950). He served as national president of Phi Eta Sigma (1974–80) and was presented the society's distinguished service award in 1966. Nowotny was cochairman of the building committee that raised funds for the Alumni Center. He also founded the Half-Century Longhorns. The Ex-Students' Association honored him with a retirement banquet on "Shorty Nowotny Day" in 1964 and in 1974 named him a distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas.
Upon retirement Nowotny joined the University Development Board staff. He retired again in 1969 but remained as unpaid consultant to the Development Board. Again in 1980 he retired and was made Dean of Student Life Emeritus. President Peter Flawn presented him a presidential citation in 1981; the Texas Cowboys established a scholarship in his honor; and the Eyes of Texas gave him the 1980 Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award sixteen years after his retirement. Nowotny married LaVerne Stugard on March 26, 1927; they had one daughter. He died in Austin on April 9, 1982, and was buried in Austin Memorial Park. The restored Visitors' Center, named for him, was officially opened at a dedication ceremony on November 26, 1986.