January 17, 2017
Dear UT Community:
Welcome back! I hope that all of you took time over the holidays to relax, recharge, and get together with friends and family. Carmel and I had a wonderful break, but I’m glad to be back in Austin for the start of the spring semester.
As 2017 gets underway, there is a great deal of change afoot in the world, in America, and in the state. The transition in Washington may affect higher education policies and our students in important ways, and we are following it closely. Also, on January 10, the Texas Legislature commenced its 85th session 12 blocks from the heart of campus.
I look forward to communicating with elected state officials during the 140-day session about the exceptional value of UT through our education, research, and most recently, our health care missions. As you may know, Texas is facing significant budget challenges, and the university, along with other state agencies, has been asked to prepare for potential reductions in spending. At this point, early in the session, legislators are just beginning to release their proposals and have not made any decisions about budgets or policies. Rest assured, we will collaborate with them to reinforce the importance of a high quality, affordable and accessible education and the role of research at the flagship university.
Yesterday, it was a privilege to take part in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. rally on the East Mall, celebrating the life and work of Dr. King. I talked about our university’s commitment to inclusion and equality, and noted that we have made strides toward developing a comprehensive diversity action plan, which will be finalized in the coming months.
I’m also pleased that in March, the university will once again have a strong presence at South by Southwest, which attracts participants and visitors from around the world to Austin. UT will have a venue at SXSW and showcase a group of remarkable faculty members and students and their innovations in the areas of virtual reality, architecture, and computer science, among others.
So, let’s get the semester off to a great start this week. To all our hard-working students and dedicated faculty members and staffers, happy new year and I wish you every success.
Gregory L. Fenves