Letters from Leadership Fall 2023
From the President
Dear UT Community,
It is my hope that you all have heard me express my admiration and appreciation for all that you do. I was sure to make these points in my State of the University address in September, but I want to do so again here.
Our 20,000 staff members make the magic happen at UT. Every day, you are thinking about how we admit students, advise students, take care of our grounds, keep our power plant running, and hundreds of other functions that are high impact but often behind the scenes. Our leadership team and I know the difference you make. Thank you.
Our 3,700 faculty members are the passionate soul of the University and have defined us from the beginning. This soul continues to evolve but is characterized by excellence. This year alone, we have hired more than 200 faculty members and promoted more than 100 others.
UT employees — staff and faculty — are extraordinarily talented and therefore could work anywhere. You are here because you want to be a part of a noble cause: a life-changing and world-changing university. While this cause is special, our simple goal is to make UT the best place to work in Central Texas. Judging by the number of staff applications, which are up more than 30% in the past two years, we are doing something right.
We continue to develop ways to help our staff and faculty thrive here in Austin, which becomes more expensive as it becomes more popular. For staff, we are implementing a subsidy to offset the cost of commuting or parking. We also have an agreement with University Federal Credit Union to provide our employees an expanded suite of financial products to help them prosper here in Austin. Additionally, we acquired the Boulevard at Town Lake apartments, and, for the first time, we will be able to offer select faculty recruits an apartment with subsidized rent. This is just the start, as we are working on plans to build and provide more housing for our faculty. We are doing this for two reasons: because we expect housing to be a key recruiting tool, and because of the importance of proximity in bringing talent to campus on a daily basis to drive our knowledge production and dissemination.
I hope you will take full advantage of these products while we continue to explore new ways to support all member of our campus community. Again, thanks for all you do to make this University the amazing place it is.
From the Faculty Council Chair
The new academic year brings news of exciting initiatives and events. The new Hill Country Field Station/Field Station Network, UT Impact Labs at Parmer, and the grand reopening of the Texas Science and Natural History Museum are all big news in my part of campus.
As many of you are aware, Senate Bill 17 (banning DEI offices and eliminating programs targeted to groups defined by race, color, ethnicity or sex) and Senate Bill 18 (defining additional ways in which tenured faculty appointments may be terminated) were passed into law. It’s difficult to think about the new academic year without taking SB 17 and SB 18 into account. Much of our work in Faculty Council this year will be in addressing faculty concerns and creating or updating policies to be in alignment with the new laws. Faculty involvement in this process is a key aspect of shared governance. Together with administrators, staff and students, we help ensure our policies reflect our institutional values.
A couple of years ago, members of The University of Texas at Austin faculty established a local chapter of the American Association of University Professors, joining several other institutions in the UT System. This national organization is committed to advancing academic freedom and shared governance. The Texas and UT chapters have been excellent resources as we pave the path forward.
I have always maintained that participating in Faculty Council is a wonderful opportunity to meet and work with dedicated colleagues, to weigh in on University decisions, and to propose and support ideas to make our University a great place to work and learn. Change can be difficult, especially when the change creates tensions in our community. We are a great University — one of the best in the world — and I know we’ll continue doing what we have always done to deserve that ranking: deliver excellent education and opportunities for all students while engaging in world-class research and scholarship.
Faculty Council chair
From the Staff Council Chair
UT Staff Council represents over 11,000 staff members, and I am honored to serve as UTSC chair during its 22nd year of existence.
One of the things I treasure most about UTSC is that it provides an avenue for staff to meet and collaborate with and learn from colleagues across campus. My fellow UTSC officers and I are excited about advocating for staff by forging new relationships while strengthening existing relationships with University leaders.
The stories featured in this edition of Texas Connect highlight how collaboration across disciplines can elevate UT staff, faculty and student experiences. As we all come together to implement the University’s 42 Strategic Plan initiative areas, I am energized by the potential for staff impact across the plan’s pillars: people, place and pursuits through collaborative efforts that will result in transformational change.
Staff Council chair