November 17, 2017
Dear academic leaders,
As the end of the fall semester draws near, I know your schedules and demands are keeping you busy. In addition to the predictable demands of the academic cycle, a great deal of important work is happening across campus. This would not be possible without the focused and dedicated stewardship of you, our academic leaders. Thank you for your continued commitment to excellence and our collective academic mission.
I wanted to share a few updates about important initiatives underway.
Gallup Alumni Report
Earlier this year, we partnered with Texas Exes and asked Gallup to survey our alumni in order to better understand how alumni perceive their undergraduate experiences and benchmarks those to our national peers. The Gallup-Purdue Index identified six key experiences strongly associated with lifelong well-being. They include having a professor that cared about them, having a professor that made them excited about learning, having a mentor, involvement in extracurricular activities, working on long-term projects and internships that allow them to apply what they learn in the classroom. It then links these experiences to outcomes of well-being — purpose, social, financial, community and physical — and maps them to these key experiences at UT Austin.
The report includes valuable insights that can be incorporated into messaging to donors, prospective students, and other audiences.
The Faculty Workload Policy was recently amended by UT System. This is an important update that is intended to provide greater flexibility for faculty who contribute in areas other than undergraduate instruction. The approved update is to Regents’ Rule 31006, which establishes reporting requirements associated with faculty workload. Once the amended rule is published, we will begin working with the colleges and schools to develop workload policies.
Faculty Search Committee Training will be available in the spring of 2018 to departments in order to promote greater diversity in faculty searches and hiring. Led by Janet Dukerich, senior vice provost for faculty affairs, and Mark Smith, graduate school dean and senior vice provost for academic affairs, the goal is to increase knowledge about current search and hire best practices leading to the employment of excellent and diverse faculty. All chairs of faculty recruiting committees must receive training, and all members of recruiting committees are highly encouraged to receive the training as well. The training provides strategies for creating more diverse candidate pools, avoiding unconscious bias, and developing more effective interviewing techniques.
This fall, we launched a diversity-focused faculty recruitment ad campaign, which included print and digital placements in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. We also introduced an updated faculty jobs website, which allows for more effective promotion of individual position listings and performs more effectively in search engine results.
The Non-tenure Track Faculty Task Force convened this summer, and is developing recommendations for guidelines that address current issues and future changes that need to be made for faculty holding non-tenure track positions. Their work is in progress, and a report will be delivered to me by summer of 2018.
The Experiential Learning Faculty Working Group was recently created to explore questions about how faculty and academic units should be supported in developing, scaling, and integrating experiential learning. Their report is due on March 30, 2018.
The Strategic Enrollment Management Faculty Working Group was also recently formed to consider principles that should guide an enhanced undergraduate student enrollment management strategy. Their report is due on March 30, 2018.
The College to Career Task Force convened earlier this year to assess how UT is providing students with the support and resources they need and ensure students are prepared for life after graduation. The report was finalized in October. My office is working with Student Success Initiatives to move forward on a number of recommendations. I will keep you updated as we make progress over the spring semester.
PhD Career Pathways is the focus of a new initiative by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to improve understanding of career pathways for current PhD students and alumni by examining PhD career trajectories after graduation. The survey will be administered in the coming weeks, and a report will be released shortly after the results have all been compiled.
The Global Engagement Task Force convened earlier this year to develop a set of global engagement strategies to ensure that the university is maximizing its international opportunities. They delivered their final report to me in July. The president and I are considering this report in conjunction with input from the recently constituted International Board of Advisors (IBA). In addition, last month, the International Office hosted an external review team of accomplished global professionals from peer institutions. This team will make recommendations that, along with the task force recommendations and IBA input, will enable us to develop a well-informed plan to advance UT Austin’s global impact. I will keep you apprised of our efforts over the coming months.
The University of Texas - Mexico Institute A.C. recently opened in Mexico City. As a Mexican entity, the Institute will make it easier for UT Austin researchers to pursue collaborations with Mexican educational and scientific organizations that have areas of common interest and similar aims. The activities of the office are being coordinated by Jorge Piñón in the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Academic Leadership Symposium in January
I wish you all the best as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday and end of the semester. I hope to see many of you on January 10, 2018 at the annual Academic Leadership Symposium. You can register here. This has been a productive venue for academic leaders to get to know each other and gather information to help you in your roles.
Best of luck on the remainder of your semester. Thank you for your leadership, dedication, and commitment to the academic mission of UT Austin.
Executive Vice President and Provost
The University of Texas at Austin