UT and Austin Moving Forward Together

On Thursday morning, I participated in a panel discussion about the growth of Austin at a Leadership Austin  breakfast. Joining me on the panel were Senator Kirk Watson and Jesus Garza of the Seton Family of Hospitals. Our wide-ranging conversation addressed major concerns around Austin’s growth.

As I explained during this panel, in my view, Austin is not faced with a huge number of things we must accomplish to move forward as a community; we have three or four major issues that will require hard work and political will.

Smart transportation planning is not only key to the quality of life in the region but affects all manner of other things, like housing prices. We’re nothing without the environment, so protecting it and planning for growth, especially with regard to our water quality and supply is crucial. We must invest in education, both statewide k-12 and higher ed. And not least, we need to see to the quality and availability of health care.

The enormous expertise of the UT Austin faculty will inform our community’s decisions in every one of these areas as UT and Austin move into the future together. And nowhere more than at the intersection of education and health care.

As I said in my State of the University Address last month, we are moving ever closer to developing a medical school at UT Austin. There are myriad details yet to be worked out, but we are poised to tackle this region-transforming project. Our strengths in natural sciences and engineering, nursing and pharmacy, social work, business, economics, and many other areas make us the natural home for Texas’ next great medical school and teaching hospital. It will take foresight and perseverance, but I believe we can and we will create a UT Austin medical school.

On a completely different note, this is a special weekend for Longhorns everywhere as we face down our archrivals OU at the Cotton Bowl. I’m on my way to Dallas with the team today and hope to visit with many of you there. Our Horns are looking great. So let’s be safe, have fun, and beat those Sooners!

Go Longhorns!

Bill's Signature

With new El Paso Admissions Center, we’re truly statewide


With El Paso high school students

Wednesday I traveled to El Paso to open UT Austin’s newest admissions center. With admissions centers from Longview to El Paso (as well as counselors from the Valley to the Panhandle), it feels like we truly have our arms around the state of Texas.

It was great to see the students, parents, Texas Exes, and University supporters come together to celebrate this opening. To continue to be Texas’ top public research university, we need the best students from every part of our state. Far west Texas represents a very important region for us. Congratulations to Michael Talamantes, the center’s founding director.

There are two prepositional phrases in our name: “of Texas” and “at Austin.” We are first and foremost “of Texas” — all of Texas. And although we’ve recruited in El Paso for a long time, it feels good to have a permanent presence there ensuring we get good information about the University to El Paso’s brightest students and their parents.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature





Opening the El Paso Admissions Center



With Corinne Chacon of the office of State Sen. Jose R. Rodriguez, and my wife, Kim

Measuring Productivity and Efficiency at a Research University

At UT Austin, we’re working every day to improve the student experience and our academic outcomes.

I have created a task force, which convened in July, to work on increasing our graduation rates. As I said in my May speech on the future of the public research university, raising our four-year graduation rate is one of the most effective ways we can lower costs for Texas families and increase capacity at UT.

This effort is consistent with Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s Framework for Advancing Excellence Action Plan, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Regents on August 25. The framework addresses student success, faculty productivity, higher education costs, and many other factors.

I want to call your attention to some related comparative data taken from a study conducted by UT Austin sociology professor and associate dean Marc Musick:

  • UT Austin’s six-year graduation rate of 81% is 13th out of 120 American public research universities.
  • We rank 10th out of those 120 universities in the percentage of students graduating for every taxpayer and tuition dollar received.
  • We are 2nd in the number of faculty employed for every taxpayer and tuition dollar received.

Based on these objective measures, UT Austin is near the top in efficiency among the nation’s public universities.

Of course there is much room for improvement. Our four-year graduation rate of 53% is not good enough. Michigan and Berkeley graduate about 70% of their undergraduates in four years. We must identify and remove the obstacles to timely graduation at UT Austin.

Public research universities must be good stewards of the public trust—and public resources. I am committed to making UT Austin an even more efficient university.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature

Welcoming Army’s Senior Service Fellows

With Senior Service Fellows on the balcony outside my office

With Senior Service Fellows on the balcony outside my office

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting with our incoming class of Senior College Fellows, who are all Army colonels and lieutenant colonels with 20-25 years of experience in the military. They’ll be on the Forty Acres for one year attending classes as part of their master’s degree program at the U.S. Army War College.

In 1991, the Army designated UT Austin as a host university for the Army’s Senior Service College Fellows Program, and UT has the largest number of fellows of any participant school. By the time they graduate in May, these 11 will have attained the highest level of military education this nation has to offer and, in the process, will have shared a great deal of wisdom with our students.

I’m grateful for their service and excited about their upcoming year on the campus.

Hook ’em Horns,

Bill's Signature

The Public Research University of the Future

Dear Tower Talk  Readers,

As you may know, I delivered a major speech on our campus on Monday addressing what I believe are the challenges and goals of the public research university of the future and how UT is leading the way toward this new vision.

Afterwards I spoke with Professor Todd Ditmire, UT senior Katie Maass, and Professor David Oshinsky, whose work I recognized in my speech.

Afterwards I spoke with Professor Todd Ditmire, UT senior Katie Maass, and Professor David Oshinsky, whose work I recognized in my speech.

In case you missed the live broadcast, I thought you might be interested in reading the text which is available online at:


Or you can watch the video on YouTube.

All best from the Forty Acres.

Bill's Signature