Letters from Leadership Summer 2023

From the President

Dear UT Community,

The past year brought big wins to our campus. We read about our successful top-10 graduate studies programs and the prestigious awards presented to our faculty members. While it is exciting to celebrate the headline-grabbing accomplishments, some of our highest-impact successes were the ones that did not make the news.

Let us take a sincere pause and think about the small wins over the past year. Maybe you helped a student make connections or break- throughs they did not think were possible. Or perhaps you enabled someone to increase their skills and were amazed by their swift progress. Some wins are entirely personal; sometimes even a little change in our own lives have far-reaching ripples.

One of the greatest joys of being the president is being in this amazing environment created by you. We are each a part of this university community. Here we set out to change the lives of our students. We also change and discover things about ourselves in the process. You — our amazing staff and faculty — inspire me, our students and our alumni on a daily basis. We created this magazine to hear your stories. We are striving to do a better job of celebrating more of our community’s triumphs.

I have an immediate ask: Are you willing to share some of your victories, however big or small? Our challenges, successes and perspec- tives help us pick each other up. As our commencement speaker Hayes Barnard noted, if each of us positively impacts one other person, change at scale becomes possible. We know it’s the little moments that have a way of improving the world. While it may not be felt at a global scale right away, these positive actions have the power to improve the world around us. One day that can reach a global scale.

Stories of positive impact abound on our campus, but many are missed or left untold. We want to do more to bring them to light. Our leadership team is planning to work this summer to discover and celebrate our wins — individually and collectively. Please reach out to president.hartzell@utexas.edu and let us know some of your favorite untold stories and missed accomplishments. We look forward to hearing from you!

Hook ’em!


Jay Hartzell signature

From the Faculty Council Chair

For me, and I think for many of us, this has been both a productive and a very challenging semester. As we move into the summer months, we may be seeking opportunities to pause, reflect and reenergize.

Being in nature has always helped me reconnect with my purpose. I’m lucky to have wonderful and generous in-laws who share their Wisconsin cabin with my family. Sitting on the porch listening to the loons call in the evenings gives me the comfort of knowing that despite hectic days and challenging times, nature’s simplicity still exists. Closer to home, I enjoy taking my family to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and finding peace as we walk in the gardens and enjoy

the laughter of kids playing. Helping me to better appreciate the diversity in the natural landscapes we enjoy here in Central Texas is a book by my colleague David Hillis titled “Armadillos to Ziziphus,” which is featured in this issue. (Be sure to also catch the associated feature about preserving biodiversity at the Wildflower Center.)

Between meetings on campus, dipping into the Blanton Museum for an hour to take in an exhibit or sitting in the relative silence of Ellsworth Kelly’s “Austin” brings balance to the day. Other days, sitting in one of our beautiful campus libraries (the Life Science Library on the second floor of the Tower comes to mind) is also restorative.

We are so fortunate to have these and other spaces on our campus. Whether you are indoors or out on the trails, I hope that you can take time during the summer to relax and recharge in places that bring you peace.

Jen Moon
Faculty Council chair