Shaka Smart perfect fit for UT basketball

ShakaSmart

I want to officially welcome Shaka Smart to the University of Texas family. As the new head coach of our men’s basketball team, Coach Smart is off to a great start, building rapport with the team and reaching out to former players for support and guidance.

Shaka Smart, 37, was born and raised in Wisconsin and attended Kenyon College in Ohio, where he graduated magnum cum laude with a degree in history. He began his coaching career in 1999 at California University of Pennsylvania. There, he also earned a master’s degree in social science. He also has been assistant coach at Akron, Clemson, and Florida. For the last six years, he has been head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he won at least 26 games each season and took the team to the final four in 2011. His wife, Maya, is a writer and alumna of Harvard and Northwestern, and they have a three-year-old daughter. I know you will give a warm Texas welcome to Shaka and Maya.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Coach Rick Barnes for his 17 years of service to The University of Texas. Rick led our program with integrity and much success, and for that, we thank him and wish him all the best at the University of Tennessee.

Hook ’em Horns!

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Men’s Swimming wins 11th National Championship

SwimmingChampions

Horns are up this week for our men’s swim team, which this past weekend won its 11th national championship, all 11 occurring under legendary Head Coach Eddie Reese. The Longhorns led the meet from start to finish and claimed the team title with 528 points to UC-Berkeley’s 399 points and Michigan’s 312 points.

With this championship, Eddie Reese ties former Ohio State coach Mike Peppe for No. 1 all-time. Saturday’s win marks UT’s first team championship since our volleyball team claimed the national championship in 2012. UT now has 48 all-time NCAA team championships and 51 overall national team titles throughout school history.

To our swimmers and to Coach Reese and his staff, thank you for your hard work and congratulations on your victory.

Hook ’em Horns!
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Photo courtesy UT Athletics

2015 Faculty and Staff Awards

On Wednesday, the University honored seven extraordinary people who have given generously of their time and talent to make UT Austin the world-class institution it is. I’m proud to recognize the following individuals:

President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award

Robert Crosnoe – Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology. His main research area is human development and life course.

Julia Guernsey – Professor and renowned scholar of Mesoamerican art history in the Department of Art and Art History

Coleman Hutchison – Professor of English, teaching U.S. literature and culture to 1900, with interests including poetry, print culture, and popular and folk music

Bruce Porter – Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science, working to develop methods to build knowledgeable computers capable of conversing intelligently on many topics

Larry Speck – Distinguished Teaching Professor, prominent architect, form dean of architecture, and winner of 18 previous University-wide teaching and service awards

The Arno Nowotny Medal
(Awarded to staff members of the Division of Student Affairs)

Lynne Milburn – Lynne retired from UT Austin in 2008 after seven years as a career counselor and 19 years as director of the Career Exploration Center.

Civitatis Award
(For a faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary citizenship within the University community)

Hillary Hart – Distinguished Senior Lecturer who teaches and researches technical communication in UT’s Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering. Since she began teaching at UT in the late 1980s, she has been a tireless servant of the University community. She has served on 24 committees, 14 of which were university-wide organizations, including chairing our Faculty Council last year. In addition to these, she has served on 17 professional societies and governmental committees.

Congratulations to each of you, and thank you for making The University of Texas at Austin proud. You inspire and transform the lives of countless students, and you deserve our sincerest thanks.

What starts here changes the world.
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Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center director joining UT architecture faculty

Rieff, Susan 2011

One positive development early in my tenure as president was UT Austin’s acquisition of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. With the support and guidance of the Johnson Family, we were able to take a national treasure and give it both a stable future and a heightened focus on research and teaching.

The key person in this transition and in the center’s development over the past 10 years has been Executive Director Susan Rieff, who is departing the center on March 31. Happily, Susan is remaining in the UT family and joining our School of Architecture as a senior research fellow in the Center for Sustainable Development.

I want to thank Susan for all she has done to make the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center a jewel in the University’s crown. A national search for her successor will be underway soon.

What starts here changes the world.

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Photo by Marsha Miller/UT Austin

 

Three UT executives stepping aside

HegartyGilliganHutchings

From left, Kevin Hegarty, Tom Gilligan, and Robert Hutchings

 

In recent days, three UT Austin executives have announced they are stepping down from their posts.

Kevin Hegarty, who has served as vice president and chief financial officer for 14 years, will become executive vice president and chief financial officer at the University of Michigan. His last day on campus will be Feb. 26, and he will begin at Michigan on April 6. Kevin has been a visionary leader, a champion of efficiency and effectiveness in our administration, and a stalwart member of my team. Mary Knight, our associate vice president for finance, will serve as interim vice president until his replacement is named.

Tom Gilligan, who has served as dean of the McCombs School of Business since 2008, will be leaving at the end of August for Stanford University to become director of the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution, and Peace. Tom has led the McCombs School to new heights, attracting top faculty and students and fostering research that is central to UT’s intellectual climate. He also has built and expanded multiple programs that support industry while challenging students and preparing them to be leaders. Rowling Hall, now under construction, will stand as Tom’s most visible legacy.

And Ambassador Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs since 2010, will step down when his current term concludes at the end of August. After taking some time off to write, Bob will return to the LBJ faculty to teach, advise, and mentor. Among his many accomplishments he has been responsible for key faculty hires and the creation of a dual degree program with the law school and an executive master’s in public leadership.

All three of these leaders have my profound thanks for their service to the University and my very best wishes for the next chapters of their distinguished careers.

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Report issued on UT Austin admissions

Today, the Board of Regents released the report of an investigation it commissioned to study whether UT Austin admissions are subject to undue outside influence.

I believe UT Austin’s admissions practices are motivated by fairness, the long-term interests of the University, and serving the public good. In response to the report by the firm Kroll & Associates, I would like to make six points:

1.   As Kroll reported, over a five-year period, my office intervened on behalf of “a relatively small” number of students. In particular, the report cited 73 applicants who normally would not have been admitted, or fewer than one in 1,000 admitted students.

2.   In every case, I acted in what I believed was the best interest of the University.

3.   Our admissions practices are fully consistent with all established laws, rules, and policies.

4.   I inherited this process, which was well known by regents, former chancellors, the Board of Regents Office, and UT System officials, many of whom, as the report notes, asked me to intervene on their behalf. This process, both prior to and during my presidency, was in the best long-term interest of the University.

5.   As the Kroll report points out, no spots at the University were saved and no one was displaced by this practice. The students in question were simply added to the incoming class.

6.   It is my observation that some similar process exists at virtually every selective university in America, and it does so because it serves the best interests of the institutions.

I am proud of our staff for the full cooperation it gave to the inquiry, as cited in the report: “The commitment, dedication, and good faith of all officials and personnel with whom we interacted were readily apparent.” The Kroll report contains many recommendations worth considering.

I thank Chancellor McRaven for his thoughtful leadership.

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