Jan. 19, 2016
Dear faculty, staff and students:
In my State of the University address in September, I said that UT has the ability to achieve a new level of undergraduate education at a research university, building on the university’s record of educational transformation. To help achieve that goal, I have appointed Dr. Jamie Pennebaker to lead that effort as the Executive Director of Project 2021 and Special Advisor to the Provost for Educational Innovation. He begins this new appointment immediately.
As Executive Director of Project 2021, Dr. Pennebaker will lead the development of next-generation undergraduate programs through course design, technology integration and rigorous evaluation. Project 2021, which will be located in the Provost’s Office, has been formed to coordinate the units that help create, implement, and evaluate new teaching and learning methods through work with faculty, departments and colleges. Under Dr. Pennebaker’s leadership, Project 2021 will introduce novel small and large classes — both online and in person — that will further our reputation as a leader in higher education.
Project 2021 is envisioned as a five-year endeavor to establish the infrastructure for innovation across the campus. At the outset, it will work closely with Extended Campus, Learning Sciences and the Faculty Innovation Center.
Dr. Pennebaker is uniquely qualified to help UT reach this goal. A leader in changing the undergraduate classroom experience to meet the demands of the 21st century, he is an advocate of using research to measure the effectiveness of teaching methods in the classroom. He earned his Ph.D. from UT Austin in 1977 and returned as a faculty member in 1997 and has since established himself as an innovative and respected educator and researcher.
Dr. Pennebaker has served as chair of the Department of Psychology for nine years. He is a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and is the Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts. The American Psychological Association recently honored Dr. Pennebaker with their Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology. Author of more than 300 scientific articles and nine books, he is one of the most cited researchers in the social sciences.
The time has come for UT to define a new level of excellence in undergraduate education founded on its accomplishments to date. I am pleased to have Dr. Pennebaker leading this next phase. Please join me in congratulating him.
Gregory L. Fenves