May 13, 2019
Dear faculty colleagues,
As the spring semester draws to its conclusion, I have spent time reflecting on what I have learned and experienced during my three years at UT. I can think of many things that make this campus unique and inspirational, and they all start with the people.
I'm constantly impressed by our students, their ideas, ambitions and perspectives. Our staff members are invested and passionate, and they make this university run. And you, our faculty, drive the university's impact in the world through your teaching, research, scholarship and creativity. You do this in the classes you teach, the students you mentor and care about, and in the knowledge you create and share. We often don't take the time to acknowledge this, and we need to.
Another theme that stands out is the cultural shift around collaboration. It goes without saying that collaborative work has long been happening on this campus, but we are seeing it happen in new and broader ways.
There are far too many to list here, but these are a few key examples.
- Faculty members are collaborating in the Bridging Barriers grand challenge initiative through Planet Texas 2050 and Whole Communities-Whole Health with a third grand challenge scheduled to be officially introduced this fall.
- Staff members are collaborating at scale to improve enrollment services for students through the Texas One Stop, a new space scheduled to open this fall. This also involved contributions by faculty members who played a key role throughout the development and design process.
- Interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate students are traveling abroad this summer to conduct research, led by faculty members. They represent the first cohort of the President's Award for Global Learning, and the selection process for the second cohort is underway.
- We launched several new dual-degree programs, including the new Master of Science in Health Care Transformation offered by the Dell Medical School and the McCombs School of Business.
- The Provost's Authors Fellowship brings together faculty members from across disciplines to work on their book manuscripts and to learn from and support one another.
- In response to our call for proposals for the Cluster and Interdisciplinary Hiring Initiative, we received responses from 80 teams of faculty members, which is enormously exciting. I look forward to announcing the final decisions in June.
I share these examples as they help demonstrate the growing culture around collaboration and collaborative work occurring across campus at all levels. This approach enables us to take advantage of the scale, breadth and depth of talent at UT.
An additional and critically important collaborative effort is the Graduate Education Task Force. This group of faculty members, students and staffers has been working with the campus to address the many issues and challenges facing our graduate student population. Funding for graduate students is a key part of these conversations, and the task force is currently working with the colleges and departments to identify the most effective ways to improve funding models for graduate education. I have heard from concerned graduate students recently, and I shared with them our comprehensive strategy and process being led by the task force.
I wish you the best during your last few days of the semester, and I hope you have an opportunity to recharge and reset this summer. Thank you for everything you do to make this campus exceptional.
Executive Vice President and Provost
The University of Texas at Austin