February 8, 2021
Dear UT Community,
Last week, I had the honor of delivering my first State of the University Address. Because we couldn’t get together in person, I recorded it at the LAITS audio studio in Mezes Hall. If you haven’t yet had a chance to listen, you can stream or download it at president.utexas.edu. Thanks to all of the fantastic professionals at LAITS involved in the recording, editing and producing of the broadcast. And thank you to professors Anthony Brown, Jason McLellan, Lauren Ancel Meyers and Daina Berry for adding their own perspectives — and raising the average quality of the content! Finally, thanks to Butler School of Music students Thanakarn Limtham, Nicolás Medina Gutiérrez and Natasha Talukdar Elam, whose personal stories and musical talents helped pull it all together.
One of the things I mentioned in the address was our university’s new strategic planning process. The idea here is to create a shared road map of opportunity for our campus community. In what areas can we lead, innovate and excel together during the next decade? What capacities do we need to develop in order to meet our new challenges? In short, how do we reach our potential and become one of the very best universities in the world?
We’ve started the process, and Phase 1 (aligning on our 10-year aspiration) is now underway. This is not a top-down exercise — it’s a collective process in which all faculty, staff and students can participate. To that end, our working group has released a call for input that I’d encourage you to consider.
The result of Phase 1 will be a vision that outlines where we want to be in 10 years and identifies the pillars, goals, strengths and opportunities around which we can build that vision. Phase 2 will be about generating and selecting specific initiatives that will help us realize this vision. Phase 3 will entail the planning and launching of these specific initiatives.
The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change in our world — now it’s up to us to position ourselves for a future that is already playing its hand. And to continue with the game metaphor, I like our cards. Put another way, as I said in my State of the University Address, we’re weathering the storm, and next we catch new tailwinds. Strategic planning helps us to map these tailwinds, chart new courses and build a better flagship university that can successfully navigate what lies ahead for the benefit of our state, students and research mission.