April 7, 2020
Dear UT Community,
As we enter the second week of learning and teaching online and of this new reality for the semester, I am inspired by your adaptability, creativity and strength in responding to the spread of COVID-19 in Texas and across the nation. Since this crisis began in Austin a month ago, change has been the only constant.
And this week is no exception. I am writing to let you know that after 12 years at UT, I will be leaving the Forty Acres this summer. The job of a university president is multifaceted, and there is often a natural end. Earlier this year, before the crisis, I decided it was the right time to conclude my tenure at UT. And just a few hours ago this morning, the Board of Trustees at Emory University in Atlanta voted to name me as their next president, a job I will begin on August 1.
The timing of this news in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is not what I had expected or wanted. Our dedicated faculty and staff have striven to make the spring 2020 semester meaningful for our students. I want you to understand that I remain singularly focused on continuing that work, completing the semester and getting our community back to normal before my presidency ends on June 30.
I have spoken with UT System Board of Regents Chairman Eltife and Chancellor Milliken about my decision. I especially want to thank Chairman Eltife and the entire Board of Regents for their dedication and strong support of the flagship campus and for backing the many accomplishments at UT.
There will be time after the semester ends to reflect on all we have accomplished together, from increasing student success and addressing affordability to launching the Dell Medical School. Our faculty, staff and university leadership are the ones who truly make UT a “university of the first class.” And they will continue every day, during and beyond this crisis — serving students, providing the highest quality education, preparing each graduate to be successful, while also breaking new ground in research and scholarship.
I am proud and honored to have served as dean of engineering, provost and, for the past five years, president of UT. I am grateful for the trust you placed in me as leader of this great university that improves the lives of Texans and changes the world every day. Improving lives is at the heart of The University of Texas’ mission and will always be in the future.
To the legions of alumni and friends in Longhorn Nation, I say thank you. There are so many supporters and benefactors who have invested in the university, most recently to help students affected by COVID-19. I appreciate each one of you.
Carmel and I will always remember the people and our experiences at UT. We will still have our family and many friends in Austin and Texas and plan to visit frequently. We look forward to speaking with as many of you as possible during the next three months.
So, to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters: I will forever be indebted that I had the opportunity to serve as your president and have a role in the long and storied history of The University of Texas.
Gregory L. Fenves