Grand opening signals new day for Liberal Arts


Last night, we officially recognized the opening of UT’s magnificent new Liberal Arts Building. It sits on the south side of the East Mall between the Student Activity Center and the Alumni Center. I encourage everyone to see it.

I want to congratulate Dean Randy Diehl for his vision and his creative approach to financing the project, which allowed the six-story structure to be completed for $85 million instead of the projected $100 million. It is the first time a college has funded its own building, and it is an unqualified success.

The building also dedicates an entire floor as the new home of UT’s ROTC programs, thanks to a $15 million gift from Distinguished Alumnus Jim Mulva and his wife, Miriam. Other donors whose generosity exceeded $1 million for the building include the Robert and Nancy Dedman Family and The Dedman Foundation, The Lebermann Foundation, and Julius and Suzan Glickman.

And I want to thank principal architect and Texas Ex Rick Archer of Overland Partners for the LEED Gold facility’s beautiful and functional design.

The College of Liberal Arts is the largest college at UT, and some 10,000 students a day will use this building. Liberal arts are fundamental to a well-rounded university education and to helping us understand our world and cultivate our civil society. I couldn’t be happier that the College of Liberal Arts has a world-class home.

Bill's Signature



Photo by Sandy Carson

Task force makes recommendations on graduation rates


Few actions we could take as a university would benefit students, parents, and the University itself as much as increasing our four-year graduation rate. Timely graduation means a more affordable education for students and their families and would give more students access to a University of Texas education.

Although our four-year graduation rate of 50 percent is the highest of any public university in Texas, we must aspire to more. It is no coincidence that the most prestigious universities also have the highest graduation rates, and if we want to become the best public university in America, we must target this issue.

In September, I asked Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl to head up a task force to recommend ways of increasing four-year graduation to 70 percent in the next five years. The group submitted its report this week, and I thank the members for their hard work and insightful recommendations.

In total, the task force made more than 60 recommendations. Among them:

• Requiring orientation for all incoming first-year students

• Creating an online tool to better allow students and advisors to monitor progress to a degree

• Developing more intervention programs to identify and assist students in academic jeopardy

• Identifying “bottleneck” courses where limited seats can create challenges for students pursuing a required path to graduation

• Helping students commit to a major and avoid adding a second major if requirements cannot be met within four years

• Creating flat-rate summer tuition to encourage students to take a full academic load

• Increasing tuition for students who have not graduated despite earning more than the required number of credits

Some of these, such as mandatory freshman orientation, will be implemented immediately. Others will need additional input from faculty and staff.

Raising our graduation rates by 20 points in half a decade is an audacious goal. It will require the focused effort of both administrators and students to make it happen. But I’m convinced the benefits will repay the effort many times over.

Thank you for your support in achieving this important goal.

You may read the full report at:

Bill's Signature

An Important New Initiative on Graduation Rates

As I said in my recent report to the UT community, we need to improve our four-year graduation rates. Doing so will save the state and Texas families millions of dollars annually, and enable the University to accommodate more of the outstanding students who want to attend UT. In my May 9 address, I challenged all of us to deepen our commitment to this goal.

Today I am announcing the formation of a task force on graduation rates. It will be chaired by Randy Diehl, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. I have invited eight faculty members in addition to Dean Diehl and five students to serve on the task force, and I’ll share their names as soon as I receive confirmation.

I have asked the task force to submit a report and recommendations by December.

We have great students and great faculty, and our four-year graduation rates should be among the highest in the nation. Although our graduation rates are the highest in the state, we should not be satisfied until they are among the very best. Together we will make this happen.

Bill's Signature

Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates:


Dr. Randy Diehl, Task Force Chair
Dean, College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Rowena Fong, Professor
School of Social Work

Dr. Robert Gilbert, Professor
Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Beverly Hadaway, Associate Professor
Department of Finance

Dr. Brent Iverson, Professor and Chair
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Charles Ramirez-Berg, Professor
Department of Radio-Television-Film

Dr. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza, Associate Professor
Department of English

Dr. Mary Steinhardt, Professor
Department of Kinesiology and Health

Dr. Philip Uri Treisman, Professor,
Department of Mathematics


Ms. Shannon Allport
Biology/Premed, Predental, Preveterinary

Mr. Gilberto Ortega-Rivera,

Ms. Ilse Quijano
Comm. Studies / Political Comm.

Mr. Francisco Tamayo

Mr. Wesley Williams