UT graduate programs rank high

This week, U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings of American graduate programs, and numerous UT programs were highly ranked. In engineering, law, education, and nursing UT graduate programs are ranked among the top 15 in the nation, and the University’s accounting program is No. 1.

In all, more than 50 science, social science, humanities, and professional programs and disciplines are ranked in the top 15 nationally according to the rankings, which are based on quantitative and qualitative measures, including GRE scores, student/faculty ratio, research expenditures, job placement success, and ratings of academic experts, national faculty members, and administrators.

The Cockrell School of Engineering ranks No. 10 (No. 5 among public universities) with eight specialty programs in the top 15. Law repeated as No. 15 nationally (No. 4 among publics). Education is No. 10 in the nation (No. 3 among publics), with five top-15 specialty areas. Nursing ranks No. 13 nationally (No. 5 among publics). And Business ranks No. 17 in the country (No. 5 among publics) with eight specializations in the top 15.

U.S. News & World Report does not rank every discipline in every year. Therefore several other graduate programs at UT Austin remain nationally ranked according to data from 2012-2014 that was not revised this year. Pharmacy ranks No. 4 both nationally and among publics. Geosciences ranks No. 8 for earth sciences (No. 4 among publics). Computer Science ranks No. 9 (No. 4 among publics). The School of Information ranks No. 6 (No. 5 among publics). Social Work ranks No. 7 (No. 5 among publics), and the LBJ School of Public Affairs is No. 16 (No. 8 among publics).

You can see how we ranked in additional programs here.

I’m tremendously proud of our graduate programs and the students, faculty, and administrators who make them the centers of excellence they are. Graduate education is a critical link in the higher education ecosystem, and the fact that more than 50 of our programs rank in the top 15 testifies to UT Austin’s remarkable breadth and depth.

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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

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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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Support Orange and Maroon Day

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President Powers with Dr. Mark Hussey, interim president of Texas A&M, today at a press conference kicking off Orange and Maroon Day 2015

For one special day during each legislative session, alumni volunteers from Texas’ two great flagship universities converge on the Capitol to encourage our elected representatives to support higher education in general and to support our state’s Tier-One research universities in particular. Today is “Orange & Maroon Day” at the Capitol. I look forward to joining with Texas A&M Interim President Mark Hussey and alumni leaders of both universities in getting our message to lawmakers.

UT Austin and Texas A&M combined teach more than 100,000 students, and each year 24,000 students graduate from these two schools and enter the workforce. Put simply, these young people are the future of our state — leaders in education, in business, in government, in the arts, and more. When you look at these Longhorns and Aggies, you’re looking at the future of our state and our nation. Together our two institutions have 875,000 alumni.
But of course the significance of these universities is not merely in the number of students they educate; it’s in the kind of education those students get. Texas and Texas A&M are partners because we share a model of education that is highly productive and deserves additional support. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors make up the ecosystem that produces both the kind of knowledge that moves society forward and the kind of leaders society needs.

The immediate payoff to Texas is enormous: together, UT Austin and Texas A&M attract $1.5 billion in research funding back to the Texas economy annually. But the long-term payoff is immeasurably larger because these universities produce the critical thinkers and leaders who will guide our future prosperity and civil society.
What starts here changes the world.

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