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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A Texas-size Thank You


Yesterday, the University said thank you to everyone who helped support this great institution through their generous donations. As I reflect on the success of the Campaign for Texas and the $3.12 billion it raised, I think about the nearly 272,000 students, alumni, and friends who had the faith in this university’s vision to make a gift. I want to share my gratitude with each and every one of you. Thank you.

Please visit this website that tells the story of the campaign and includes a special thank you video you won’t want to miss.

Hook ’em Horns!

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Coach Strong doing a tough job well

In recent days, criminal charges and violations of team rules have led Coach Charlie Strong to dismiss and suspend multiple students from our football team. These are unfortunate losses, but I fully support Coach Strong and the hard line on discipline he takes. Indeed, this trait is among the reasons he was hired.

There’s no more demanding job in college sports than coach of the Texas Longhorns football team. In Charlie Strong, we have the right person for the job. Young players across Texas and beyond know that when they come to UT Austin, they’ll live by Coach Strong’s rules or they won’t play football. This will attract the best young men, and they will make all of us proud on the field and off.

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May Updates from the Forty Acres



As we reach the end of the 2013-14 school year, I’d like to share some good news. This weekend UT celebrates its 131st spring commencement. More than 8,686 Longhorn students are about to become graduates of The University of Texas at Austin. Of those, 5,832 will be getting their bachelor’s degrees, 1,900 their master’s degrees, and 954 their doctoral degrees. Among those graduating with bachelor’s degrees, our three most popular majors this year, in order, are psychology, economics, and finance. I’m proud of all of our new UT graduates, and I welcome their families and friends to our campus on this joyful weekend.

This spring, we have lit the Tower orange for a number of scholarly achievements. Four of our engineering faculty members were inducted into the National Academy of Engineering, the most of any university: Thomas Edgar, Yale Patt, Bob Schutz, and our provost, Greg Fenves. We also honored mathematics professor Luis Caffarelli, winner of the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research, and chemistry and chemical engineering professor Grant Willson, who won the Japan Prize for his development of a process now used to manufacture nearly all microprocessors and memory chips. And, as I mentioned last month, we broke ground on three buildings for our new Dell Medical School.

The Campaign for Texas continues to break records for philanthropy as we rapidly approach our August 31 deadline to bring the eight-year, $3 billion effort to a successful close. As of today, we have raised $2,855,986,626. That leaves $144,013,374 left to raise in 110 days. That is a lot, but I know that if we pull together, we can make history. Join us!

Finally, I’d like to recognize some of this year’s athletics successes. For the 2013-14 athletics season, six Longhorn teams captured Big 12 Conference championships: Volleyball, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Indoor Track and Field, Men’s Tennis and Men’s Golf. I also want to congratulate Kevin Durant, who last Tuesday became the first Texas Ex in history to be named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. In winning his fourth scoring title in five years, he joins only Michael Jordan, George Gervin, and Wilt Chamberlain. Hook ’em!

Kevin’s hard-won achievements are emblematic of what Longhorns do every day across society. From teaching to nursing, accounting to the arts, engineering to journalism, and in so much else, what starts here changes the world.

Here’s to another great school year.

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Campus efficiency measures moving forward thoughtfully

In 2012, I asked a group of 13 alumni and business leaders to examine UT’s administrative structure and operations with the goal of increasing our business productivity. They made their recommendations in January 2013. Since then, under Vice President Kevin Hegarty’s leadership, we have done an extensive study of the feasibility of those recommendations and gotten valuable input from the campus.

One major recommendation of the committee was to consolidate certain administrative functions across campus to be more efficient — a model known as “shared services.” We formed a steering committee composed of UT deans, staff, faculty, and students to examine this idea. Today, I present the Shared Services Steering Committee’s recommendations, viewable here.

The Steering Committee has proposed that over the next year shared services be piloted by select volunteer units. I am currently reviewing these recommendations.

Sharing services is not new to our campus. Pockets of shared services already exist in the College of Liberal Arts, McCombs School of Business, Information Technology Services, and the Central Business Office, which currently provides services for my office. So in addition to the pilot programs, we also will undertake a detailed study of these existing structures and how they are performing.

Change is never easy, but I believe we must share services across the campus for three reasons: to improve service, to improve career paths for our staff, and to reduce costs, allowing us to better serve our core missions of teaching and research.

I thank Vice President Hegarty and the Steering Committee for their thoughtful work.

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UT has lost a great friend in Jack Blanton


As many of you know, UT recently lost a great friend and Distinguished Alumnus. Jack Blanton, a leader in the energy industry, philanthropy, and higher education, died in Houston on Dec. 28 at the age of 86. Jack served UT in countless ways. He supported programs as varied as the law school, the Wildflower Center, British Studies, athletics, nursing, and, of course, the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, named in his honor in 1997.

Jack’s campus involvement extended to scores of initiatives, including the Centennial   Commission, the Commission of 125, the Development Board, and his service as president of the Texas Exes. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1977. Jack was appointed to the Board of Regents in 1985 and was elected chairman in 1987. At a time when educational budgets were severely challenged, he was instrumental in increasing state revenue, much of which supported higher education in Texas. The UT System awarded him its Santa Rita Award in 1994.

Jack earned a bachelor’s degree in history at the University in 1947 and a law degree in 1950. After graduation, he worked for the Scurlock Oil Company in Houston, which he would eventually lead. He also served as president of Eddy Refining Company.

I will miss this great friend and leader, whose name will forever be held dear on our campus.

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