Council for TEXAS Impact

Three images, top left image of students biking on campus, bottom left image of telescope, right image of a molecular structure

As UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves enters his fifth year in office in fall 2019, he is convening a faculty-led advisory council to develop bold ideas to shape the university for the next decade and beyond. The council’s purpose is to think deeply about the future across a wide range of fields and disciplines; identify key areas where UT can have the most impact; and foster a forward-looking conversation to identify opportunities for UT as it prepares for its 150th anniversary in 2033.

The goal of the council is summed up in its name: How can our institution have the greatest positive impact on the rapidly changing state that created it and on the world?

The council will research, reflect and then recommend priorities for the next decade. Composed of more than 20 faculty members nominated by deans and vice presidents and appointed by President Fenves, it also includes three students and two university staff members. Bobby Chesney, professor of law, and Lauren Meyers, professor of integrative biology, are co-chairing this group

The council wants to elicit the boldest ideas from the entire community that will propel UT toward leadership in an era of rapid economic, social and global change. It will ask these questions:

  • What is the future of knowledge and discovery? In what areas of research, scholarship and innovation is UT is poised to have the greatest impact?

  • What is the future for our students as the nature of work and career evolves? What landscape will the leaders and changemakers of tomorrow face? How can UT prepare students for it?

  • What does the future offer for translating our discoveries, scholarship and creativity to a create more vibrant Texas and beyond?

To begin answering these questions, the council will solicit ideas through a wide series of engagements throughout this academic year, including university-wide and college-specific forums and work with deans, university leaders and alumni. The council will present its conclusions to President Fenves and the campus community in fall 2020.

Council Co-Chairs

Robert (Bobby) Chesney

Robert (Bobby) Chesney

Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
School of Law

Bobby Chesney holds the Honorable James A. Baker III Chair in Law and World Affairs at the University of Texas School of Law, where he also serves as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Professor Chesney also is the Director of the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law (a campus-wide enterprise addressing national security and foreign affairs topics ranging from cybersecurity to migration). His research focuses on the evolving legal architectures associated with U.S. national security institutions, policies, and practices, with an emphasis on the disruptive impact of technological and strategic change. Professor Chesney previously served as part of the Director of National Intelligence’s Advanced Technology Board and the Intelligence Science Board, as well as the President’s Detention Policy Task Force. He has been the Principal Investigator for a number of grants, most recently including a multi-year grant from the Hewlett Foundation supporting his work relating to cybersecurity. He is a member of the American Law Institute, a co-founder of Lawfare, and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He is from San Antonio.

Lauren Ancel Meyers

Lauren Ancel Meyers

Professor
College of Natural Sciences

Lauren Ancel Meyers has been a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology since 2003 and was the founding Chair of the Department of Statistics and Data Science. She holds the Cooley Centennial Professorship and serves on the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute. Professor Meyers trained as a mathematical biologist at Harvard and Stanford Universities and has pioneered the application of network theory and machine learning to improve the detection, forecasting and control of infectious disease epidemics. She leads an interdisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and public health experts in uncovering the socio-biological drivers of outbreaks and building practical tools for the CDC and other global health agencies to track and mitigate emerging viral threats, including pandemic influenza, Ebola, HIV, and Zika. Her research has been published in over 100 peer-reviewed articles in major journals and covered by the popular press, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Newsweek, Wired and the BBC. Professor Meyers was named as one of the top 100 global innovators under age 35 by the MIT Technology Review in 2004 and received the Joseph Lieberman Award for Significant Contributions to Science in 2017.

Council Members

Daniel Ackerberg

Professor
College of Liberal Arts

Deji Akinwande

Professor
Cockrell School of Engineering

Erika Bsumek

Associate Professor
College of Liberal Arts

Sandra Catlett

Staff Council Chair
UT Staff Council

Stacey Chang

Professor
Dell Medical School

Katherine Freese

Professor
College of Natural Sciences

Kishore Gawande

Professor
McCombs School of Business

Andrea Gore

Professor
College of Pharmacy

James Howison

Associate Professor
School of Information

Miyong Kim

Professor and Associate Vice President for Community Health Engagement
School of Nursing

Sarah Lopez

Associate Professor
School of Architecture

Doreen Lorenzo

Professor of Practice and Assistant Dean
College of Fine Arts

Michael Mackert

Professor and Director
Moody College of Communication, Dell Medical School

Elizabeth Matsui

Professor
Dell Medical School

David Mohrig

Associate Dean
Jackson School of Geosciences

Rubén Parra-Cardona

Associate Professor
Steve Hicks School of Social Work

Varun Rai

Associate Professor and Director
LBJ School of Public Affairs, Energy Institute

Richard J. Reddick

Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Equity, Community Engagement and Outreach
College of Education

KJ Sanchez

Associate Professor
College of Fine Arts

Peter Stone

Professor
College of Natural Sciences

Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

Associate Professor
Moody College of Communication

Melissa Taylor

Assistant Dean for Strategy and Planning
College of Natural Sciences

Sheridan Titman

Professor
McCombs School of Business

Melissa Wasserman

Professor
School of Law

Karen E. Willcox

Professor and Director
Cockrell School of Engineering, Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences

Student Members

Christine Baze

Graduate Student Assembly President
PhD student in STEM Education

Camron Goodman

Student Government President
BBA in Finance (Senior)

Elena Ivanova

Senate of College Councils Vice President
BS in Public Health and Plan II Honors (Senior)