Greg Fenves to be next UT provost


Last week, Greg Fenves, dean of UT’s Cockrell School of Engineering, accepted my invitation to become UT’s next executive vice president and provost. His appointment is effective Oct. 1. Greg is exactly the right person for the job. He has led initiatives to improve research competitiveness, undergraduate retention and graduation rates, international and entrepreneurship programs, and fundraising for the Engineering Education and Research Center. He has the skills and experience to advance UT in many key areas.

I hired Greg to be dean of the Cockrell School in 2008, and he’s been a true leader. He came to the University from UC-Berkeley, where he served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, assistant director at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, and professor of engineering. He studied at Cornell University and UC-Berkeley. He is an expert in simulating and predicting the effects of earthquakes on human-made structures.

Greg has said his top priorities will include strengthening the connections of our undergraduate students to the knowledge-creating communities in departments and programs, increasing the number of highly ranked graduate programs at UT, recruiting and retaining world-class faculty, and building the Dell Medical School as the leader for 21st century medicine and health care delivery.

His selection resulted from a national search by a committee composed of deans, faculty members, and students and chaired by Professor Martha Hilley.

Greg will succeed current Executive Vice President and Provost Steve Leslie, who has served in that role since 2007 and has done an outstanding job. Steve has been instrumental in the creation of the Dell Medical School, greater strategic planning and budgeting of the academic programs, and developing innovative learning technologies. He will remain on our faculty as special assistant to the president working with community partners involved in the Dell Medical School.

An interim dean for the Cockrell School will be named soon.

Bill's Signature



Proud of our national academies inductees

National Academies and Institutes Honorees

From left, President Powers with Keith Johnston, George Georgiou, Joseph Beaman Jr., Sharon Wood, John Goodenough, and Provost Steven Leslie (Photo by Brian Birzer)


Last night I hosted a reception honoring five UT faculty members inducted into three national academies. We should all take great pride in these inductions, as few honors embody our identity as a top research university as these do. The Tower was lighted orange in their honor.


National Academy of Engineering

Joseph J. Beaman Jr., the Earnest F. Gloyna Regents Chair in Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, was elected for innovation, development and commercialization of solid freeform fabrication and selective laser sintering.

Sharon L. Wood, the Robert L. Parker Sr. Centennial Professor and chair in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, was recognized for her design of reinforced concrete structures and associated seismic instrumentation for extreme loadings and environment.

Keith P. Johnston, chemical engineering professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to engineers worldwide.


National Academy of Sciences

John Goodenough, a mechanical engineering professor who is widely credited for the scientific discovery and development of the lithium-ion rechargeable battery, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


Institute of Medicine

George Georgiou, a professor whose technology developments in the engineering, medical, biochemical and cellular fields could help treat tens of thousands of patients with diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis, has been elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

In addition, two new alumni members of the National Academy of Engineering were inducted:

Rex Tillerson, B.S. in civil engineering ’75, was recognized for engineering leadership in the production of hydrocarbons in remote and challenging environments. Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, has been a member of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board for the past six years and is a member of the UT Development Board.

Gregory Deierlein, Ph.D. in civil engineering ’88, is the John A. Blume Professor in the Stanford University School of Engineering. He was recognized for the development of advanced structural analysis and design techniques and their implementation in design codes.

Congratulations to all of you, and thank you for the honor you bring to the University.

Bill's Signature



Provost Steven Leslie to step down

Leslie, Steve 2012

With deep regret, I’m announcing that Dr. Steven Leslie has decided to step down as UT’s provost and executive vice president and return to teaching and research as of August 31.

For the past six years, Provost Leslie has been an indispensable partner in transforming the academic life of The University of Texas. He has guided our deans and vice provosts with a steady hand and a vision that encompasses all aspects of this vast university.

Before I recruited him to serve as the University’s chief academic officer, Dr. Leslie was dean of UT’s College of Pharmacy and was a popular teacher and leading researcher in the field of alcoholism. We’re happy he has decided to remain on the Forty Acres and continue the academic life at which he has excelled for so long. In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of searching for his successor.

Though he will remain close by, I will miss his leadership, his personal warmth, and his kindness. Steve, thank you for your years of outstanding service. We’re a better university because of you.

Bill's Signature