September 30, 2021
Dear UT Community,
It was a thrill to see so many of you on the Main Mall last week!
As I said during the State of the University address, my first year as president has certainly been eventful, and our chances to interact last year were all too scarce. This year is shaping up to be much better, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to mark the transition from last year to this one than by spending time with students, staff, faculty and alumni.
In addition to being formally inaugurated as UT’s 30th president, I loved being able to hear some of our talented UT musicians perform in the heart of campus, and to share some great fare from beloved Austin restaurants and food trucks. Thank you to everybody who was involved in putting this together, and to everyone who came out and made the day a celebration.
At the heart of my speech was our shared vision for the future of our campus. As a community, we’ve spent so much of the past 12 months navigating the pandemic. Even as we’ve been taking on that challenge, we’ve been looking ahead to our future. Our leadership team has benefited from countless conversations with talented people from across the university, and we’ve used that input to develop a strategic direction for UT. Today, I want to share more details about what that means, while inviting you to help turn this strategic direction into detailed plans, actions and results during the coming months.
Our aspiration is clear: UT will seek to become the world’s highest-impact public research university.
What’s also clear is that we can achieve this level of impact by focusing on our amazing people, leveraging our unique place here in Austin, Texas, and honing our pursuit of transformative experiences, immersive education and game-changing research and scholarship.
In focusing on people, we will attract brilliant students and enable them to achieve their potential; empower world-class faculty members to educate for the future and push the frontiers of knowledge; and increase our investment in our staff, who are essential to our becoming the university we want to be. Excellence and diversity are inseparable, so we will develop a revamped Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy to attract an even more diverse range of people and viewpoints to the Forty Acres and work even harder to support their success.
In focusing on our place, it’s important that we embrace the unique advantages we have here in our hometown. Austin and Texas are epicenters of tech innovation and entrepreneurial energy. Some days, it seems as if we’re drawing the whole world to us. This gives us an unprecedented opportunity to forge new pathways between the university and the wider community, to expand learning and career opportunities, to foster research all the way from idea to market — in short, to exchange and implement world-changing ideas.
This will all be done, of course, through our pursuits as a university of the first class. UT must always be a life-changing school for students, an inspiring workplace for faculty and staff members, and an incubator of excellence everywhere on campus, from the recital hall to the residence hall, the library to the laboratory, and the office to the arena.
We need your input
Now that we have set this ambitious strategic direction, we are preparing to move into the second phase of planning — crafting specific initiatives to realize our aspiration.
That’s where each of you comes in. I invite you to submit specific ideas. You can think big and lay out grand aspirations, or focus on hands-on details that will increase our impact. We want to hear your suggestions and also your critiques. We need both if we are going to have the impact we desire.
The ideas for leveraging our place, honing our pursuits and increasing our impact all begin with you — the people whose passion and perseverance will make it happen. Our leadership team and I are excited to have you as partners in this journey and can’t wait to continue the conversation.