July 1, 2016
Dear faculty and staff,
Today, I am honored and privileged to join the UT community as the new Executive Vice President and Provost of The University of Texas at Austin. It is an honor I wear with great pride.
As someone new to this university, to Austin, and the state of Texas, I’m experiencing the rich history, supportive community, and grand expectations that come with being on this campus. It is truly inspiring. I have always admired and respected this university from afar. The impact of your research, scholarship, and creativity makes UT a truly unique institution.
I’m coming to Austin from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where I’ve been a faculty member for the past 18 years. I started my academic path as an undergraduate there, earning my bachelor's degree in art history. After completing my Ph.D. at Yale University, I was fortunate to return to UVA where I had great colleagues, many of whom were the teachers who had first inspired me to become a professor.
With time, I found myself drawn to administrative opportunities while remaining an active teacher, advisor, and scholar.
Leaving Virginia was a difficult decision for me and my family, but I was attracted to UT because this campus has an amazing wealth of opportunity. UT ranks among the elite universities in the country and in the world, and has resources that other universities only dream about. My family is thrilled to now all be Longhorns!
Since my appointment in January, I have made many trips to Austin, meeting with the academic leadership of the schools and colleges and getting to know the campus. I am so impressed with the ambitious research, scholarship, and creativity of our faculty, the innovative academic programs for our students, and the great work of staff who enable our academic mission.
I have heard some consistent themes that will guide my priorities as we begin our work together, including:
- Investing in our excellent faculty and attracting new talent to UT
- Improving graduate education and support for graduate students
- Enhancing interdisciplinary teaching and research
- Working together to create a diverse and inclusive community
I have had the opportunity to meet many inspiring faculty and staff from across campus, and I am very excited to be joining the faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Fine Arts where I have appointments in American Studies and Art History.
My plan in the coming months is to listen and learn from you as much as possible, so I better understand your goals and aspirations and how they come together across campus. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible and working closely with Faculty Council and Staff Council. I want to hear your insights, thoughts and ideas, and I plan to leverage that collective wisdom as we work together to take on the lofty expectations laid before us.
During my first year, I will be writing a monthly letter that will be posted on the Provost’s Office website to highlight the new people I meet and the UT experiences I’m having for the first time. I want to use this as an opportunity to give credit to the incredible work being done and remind us all why this campus is such a special place.
In the meantime, I have created this feedback form so that you can share your thoughts and ideas with me as I begin to serve in this important role. I encourage you to send me a message, so I can better understand our campus and community. As I prepare to move into the provost’s office in Main with its great view over the South Mall, I am humbled by what a privilege it is to be able to work with all of you in supporting your ambitions for this great institution.
Let me finish by thanking the outgoing interim provost, Judy Langlois, not only for sharing her vast knowledge and understanding of UT and this role, but also for her service during the past year. Those of you who have worked with her understand that her outstanding service and contribution to this university is unequalled, and I am indebted to her for helping me during this transition. She has set the bar very high, and I appreciate her effort to help me prepare to fill her shoes.
Executive Vice President and Provost
Professor, American Studies and Art History
Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities
The University of Texas at Austin