Greatra Mayana

Career & Employment Opportunities

2018 State of the University Address, The University of Texas at Austin

>>Ladies and Gentlemen, please join in welcoming
Dr. Charlotte M. Canning to the stage. Dr. Canning is the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial
Professor in Drama in the Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Fine Arts, and
Chair of the Faculty Council at The University of Texas at Austin. . [Applause]>>Welcome to the President’s annual State
of the University address. Today, rather than reviewing his many impressive
and varied accomplishments, I’d like to share with you how Gregory L. Fenves brings
innovation and originality to the presidency of the University of Texas.
President Fenves and I share an avid interest in the history of higher education.
We are both familiar with Clark Kerr’s groundbreaking book The Uses of the University.
In it Kerr describes US higher education since the 19th century “as a new social force
in world history. Nowhere before had universities been so closely
linked with the daily life of so much of their societies.
The university campus had become one of the most heavily traveled crossroads in America”.
I know that President Fenves is proud that UT epitomizes this history.
How do I know this? Well, I follow him on Twitter.
[Laughter] Yeah, Twitter. The university in service to the state, nation,
and the world can be seen in the president’s Twitter feed.
Indeed, we might call Greg Fenves UT’s first social media president.
Social media is often dismissed as superficial or a distraction.
But it can bond a community scattered across the globe, foreground the primary mission
of an institution, Or salute its newest members. As you see here, whether reconnecting with
alums across Asia, engaging directly with students and celebrating their potential,
or welcoming new colleagues through the shared experience of being faculty,
President Fenves uses social media to stay focused on what UT is, should, and can be.
He even shares his life with us, a future Longhorn, class of 2035, maybe?
[Laughter] Why is this important? President Fenves is
demonstrating that we need to meet our communities where they are.
If you were to know UT only through @gregfenves you would see the joy he experiences as president
and the enormous pride he takes in sharing the diverse work of our students, faculty,
staff, and alums. Historians will be able to depict accurately
the complexity of
contributions the University of Texas has and will make regionally, nationally, and
globally just by what our president tweets. It has been my pleasure and honor to collaborate
with President Fenves on governance at the University of Texas.
I am proud to share his investment in our campus as a 21st century local and global
crossroads. there will be a rerepresentation following
the address to which you are all invited. Don’t forget to Tweet about it and help
those future historians understand how strong those bonds of community are at UT. Please join me in welcoming President Greg
Fenves. [Applause]>>PRESIDENT FENVES:
Well, thank you, Dr. Canning, for that wonderful introduction, and welcome, everybody. Not only is Dr. Canning the Chair of the Faculty
Council, she is also a theatre and performance scholar.
And the B. Iden Payne Theatre, where we are right now,
hosts many of her department’s productions. This is a place for actors, dancers, and musicians.
and It’s Dr. Canning’s home turf.
And I thank her for welcoming me onto this stage. I’m not an actor.
I’m not a musician. and as Carmel knows,
I’m definitely not a dancer. But I’ll do my best this afternoon.
I want to begin at ‑‑ well, the beginning, the start
of my service as president of The University of Texas at Austin.
it was June 2015, my first day on the new job. I remember stepping out of the front door
of my house, into the familiar, hot, Austin summer. I got in my car, drove a couple of miles to
campus … as I had done for years as Dean and then provost. And then, over the course of that day … I
saw the brilliance of this university, in an entirely different way.
First, I toured the Facilities Complex and introduced myself to hundreds of UT staff
members who bring our campus to life. Then I met with community leaders from East
Austin and we talked about how to be good neighbors to one another.
I met with our students and they discussed their
academic experiences and their lives here at UT.
And Later, I met with our Longhorn Governor, the
Honorable Greg Abbott, and we talked about his goals for the flagship university of the
great state of Texas. and I ended my first day as president at a
dinner with our faculty where they shared their aspirations and their ideas for
the next era of UT. In that one day, I listened to many people
who represented a wide spectrum of viewpoints and experiences.
Their voices showed me, in an indelible way, that UT is like no other institution. That
we are distinct. That we are defined by the work of outstanding
individuals from all over the world, with a tradition that belongs solely to The University
of Texas. Now, it’s been three years since that first
day, and the respect I have for the people of this university, along with my hopes for
UT, have grown even more. I see how we serve the
state and create a more vibrant Texas for all who live here.
And I’ve learned so much from our faculty, staff,
our students and our alumni. I even learned recently what a meme is.
[Laughter]. And I have our Student Government leaders
Colton Becker and Mehraz Rahman to thank for that.
Well, Colton, Mehraz, and thousands of other undergraduate
students are beginning their senior year , we had the same freshman year. But in 2019, they will earn their Bachelor’s
degree. I’ll get to speak at graduation, but it’s
not quite the same. Our graduates will go out to change the world,
and then a few months after Commencement, a new class will take their place.
And That’s the cycle of a great university,
a process of seeking out the best students, educating them, graduating them, and empowering
them to contribute to society. So, this afternoon I would like to reflect
on what we’ve accomplished, together, since my freshman year of 2015, And I’ll also
look ahead to the future, not just to this weekend and a big game where
we’re going to beat USC, but the distant future, To see where we’re going and what
we’re striving for. In 2015, Issac Turrubiate Salinas was a senior
at CC Winn high school in the small city of Eagle Pass on the Rio GRANDe.
Issac grew up in public housing. His mother, Ana had worked for two decades
at Walmart, to provide for him and his brother and sister.
Issac did all he could to help his mother. He transported wood, cut grass, did landscaping,
whatever job he could find, all while going to school.
English was Issac’s second language and no one in his family had ever attended college.
He thought about joining the Army to serve his country and to save his mom the concern
of having to pay for his education. But after long deliberations, and financial
aid offers from UT and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he decided to come to the
Forty Acres. And Issac’s here with us today along with
his mother Ana, sister Genesis, and niece Danika. They’re all here with him at the
Beginning of Issac’s junior year. He’s majoring in
economics and government. He’s done internships. He’s worked on campus.
He recently won a prestigious writing prize. Issac is reaching his potential on the Forty
Acres. And we couldn’t be prouder.
[Applause]. Issac’s story reflects the purpose of our
university, which is to unlock potential. We offer opportunities to talented students
from all walks of life. All walks of life.
For half of UT’s 135 years, the university did not admit African American students. Our
history of exclusion and segregation, gives us a responsibility to stand as champions
of the educational benefits of diversity. It is vital that qualified students have access
to UT, and once here, have the opportunity to work with, and learn from, a diverse group
of students, faculty, and staff. People who understand the world we live in
and drive innovation in their community, professions, the arts, and business.
[Applause] Our commitment to diversity and inclusion
is part of our history now. And with every student who comes to UT, and
then graduates, we fulfill our purpose. We unlock potential.
In 2011, under the leadership of President Bill Powers, UT started a movement to improve
undergraduate retention and graduation. The problem was clear — too many UT students
were not earning degrees in a timely fashion, and some weren’t graduating at all.
So, the university’s administration, faculty, staff, and students, all collaborated to improve
student success. We created mentorship programs like the renowned
University Leadership Network, which Isaac and thousands of other students participate
in. Faculty retooled their classes and curricula.
Students signed up for full course schedules, put in additional hours to study, and worked
very, very hard. In short, UT changed its culture from one
that “weeded out” students in some majors and had complicated paths to graduation in
others to a culture, now, where students are challenged and graduate on time, while receiving
the support they need. That transformation happened because of the
efforts of our entire university because of you. By 2017, UT’s four‑year graduation rate
had increased by about 15 percentage points overall, and by 17 points for Hispanic students
and 20 points for African American students. We have narrowed
The achievement gap for low‑income students and students of color
that has persisted for far too long. [Applause]. But there’s much more to be done.
To keep improving access and student success, we need to make a UT education financially
possible for more qualified students than ever before. And we will do this by investing
in financial aid to benefit students and families from all over Texas.
This past spring, we introduced the Texas Advance Commitment.
It enables first‑year UT students with family incomes of up to $100,000, who have
financial need, to receive guaranteed aid. Guaranteed.
And students with family incomes of up to $30,000
Receive at a minimum, at a minimum, aid to completely cover their full tuition costs.
Guaranteed. That was a big step.
And I’m pleased to announce today that these four‑year financial aid awards are now available
to all eligible undergraduate students. Sophomores, juniors, and
seniors are now receiving the Texas Advance Commitment funding to support their
four‑year graduation success. everyone is part of this commitment now.
[Applause]. And I am grateful to the UT System Board of
Regents for supporting our university’s dedication to access.
And success. The 
Recurring AUF funding allocated by the Board enables us to create greater opportunities
for Texas students to receive a high‑quality UT education. We couldn’t have made this
commitment to financial aid without the Regents’ commitment. Our responsibility to UT
Starts with access, then moves to graduation,
but it doesn’t end there, it continues with upward
mobility, and our students’ ability to achieve the American Dream — that is, to live impactful
lives and thrive in ways that previous generations could not.
it’s part of what we do. The University of Texas has been a national
exemplar in driving upward mobility. Many of our students earn their degrees and go
on to have lives defined by service and achievement. We know this.
But we also know that we can prepare even more students for lasting success after graduation.
That’s why we’ve introduced College to Career —
An initiative that will provide increased support for students so they can explore a
broad range of career paths and opportunities. Through experiential learning and mentoring
from our faculty, graduate students, and staff, we will help our students develop skills that
suit their long‑term goals. We cannot expand our efforts as an engine
of upward mobility, without reinforcing our students’ understanding of what their work,
their study, and their research is setting them up for in the future.
Regardless of their major, all students at UT will move forward and develop their
Lives after graduation and we want those lives to be exceptional.
And in 2019, we will start building a new, university‑wide center for students in the
F–A–C. It’ll be called the Center for Career Exploration
and Development. many of our students already
receive excellent career counseling through their colleges and schools.
This new center will build upon that strong foundation, and offer additional resources
that will help undergraduate and graduate students succeed after graduation. So, when it comes to our students, there are
three main goals. First: increasing access; second: prioritizing
quality education with timely graduation; And third: driving upward mobility. By dedicating ourselves to
These three goals, the University of Texas will continue to unlock
the potential of students in the years ahead. And our faculty are the key
for doing this. UT faculty are mentors. They guide our students,
open their minds to new concepts, and prepare them for a lifetime of learning, creativity,
and contribution. Our faculty are researchers. They are thinkers
and creators. The originality and brilliance of their work
is unparalleled, in so many disciplines. Here are just two examples, two of many:
In the past year, UT religious studies scholars Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau were doing
research at Oxford University, when they discovered something extraordinary, the first‑known
Greek copy of a heretical text that purports to describe Jesus’ secret teachings to his
brother James. Scholars didn’t think this text had survived
beyond the third or fourth century, but these UT professors found it tucked away in Oxford’s
archives, and it enhances our understanding of the history of Christianity. And this summer, the country’s largest indoor
chemistry experiment was hosted by UT researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering.
It was called HOMEChem and UT faculty members, Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz and Atila Novoselac helped
make it happen. They built a testing facility to identify
some of the key causes of indoor air pollution. And the results will give scientists and medical
researchers new data and understanding, as they seek to reduce the prevalence of diseases
caused by indoor air pollution. To facilitate even more scholarship and research
at UT, we have increased the investment in faculty compensation over the past three years.
And We will continue to invest significantly in
the coming years. We’re doing this because top universities
compete for faculty at a very high level. we don’t just want to
compete, we want outstanding faculty to have their careers and lives here with us in Austin.
And the research by UT faculty is increasingly collaborative.
Professors, graduate and undergraduate students are using multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary
approaches, and taking on some of the greatest challenges facing society together.
they are doing that working together. They do this across different units on campus.
And We know there aren’t such clear lines separating
the arts, humanities, and sciences. A great university must recognize our interconnections
and use them to collaborate. New technology will be more relevant if we
develop it with an understanding of design, culture, and
artistic expression. Critical thinking about
literature can emerge from the latest discoveries in neuroscience. Digital media offers musicians
and artists a new palette from which to create. Genetics, behavioral science, lidar imaging,
and our knowledge of ancient languages and much, much more, all help us
better understand ancient history and the human condition. 
The world is increasingly multidisciplinary. and
UT must be too. Which is why we established the Bridging Barriers
grand challenge program, which initiated its first challenge —
Planet Texas 2050 — This past January.
It brings together nearly 100 researchers from 13 colleges and schools to address the
scientific, economic, and social issues that Texas will face for generations to come.
And today, I’m pleased to announce the second Bridging Barriers grand challenge. It’s
called: Whole Communities — Whole Health. Faculty from across the university will work
together to explore ways to foster the healthy development of children and families, struggling
with adversity, by fundamentally rethinking how cohort studies are conducted on social,
behavioral, and health issues. The aim is to develop new ways of establishing
a strong scientific understanding of the contexts and the complex inter‑relationships, of
the many factors affecting families, children, and individuals in a community.
The faculty and researchers in Whole Communities — Whole Health have been working together
over the past eight months to lay the groundwork for this initiative, and their efforts will
begin in earnest this fall. UT faculty conduct outstanding research.
That is clear. But as we know, that’s only part of their
job. As mentors, faculty have a remarkable effect
on students for their entire lives. and
The data bear this out. last year we asked Gallup
to conduct an in‑depth survey of our alumni, and the results identified
their experiences at the university that alumni believe helped prepare them for engaged
and successful lives. Two of the leading
experiences were first, Having a professor who challenged them academically.
and two, Having a professor who cared about them as
a person. The Gallup results showed that UT faculty
are doing both of these well, and they are doing them at higher
levels and higher rates than faculty at other top universities.
Now, While the Gallup survey applied to undergraduate
education, UT faculty also mentor, guide, and teach graduate students.
graduation education at UT ‑‑ Graduate students at UT will be the professors,
the researchers, and
the professionals of the future, and they are
teaching and discovering right now. here’s another example:
In recent years, a fast and affordable gene modification method, popularly known as CRISPR,
has provided possibilities for building new medicines and therapeutics.
A team of researchers led by UT graduate student Isabel Strohkendl and professor Rick Russell,
recently developed an Upgrade to CRISPR, that can
make gene editing safer and more accurate. It’s an outstanding discovery.
And a UT graduate student helped make it happen.
[Applause]. But UT faculty and students cannot accomplish
any of their work, without the dedication of the 12,300 staff members who run the university.
They make sure that we are operating at the highest level, as an academic institution
and as an organization. And, in terms of the way we operate, a major
change is coming. In November, as you should all know, the university
will launch Workday, An enterprise software system for human resources
and payroll. Workday will improve our administrative procedures
with modern systems, that will meet our business needs now and for decades to come.
But, any change in software Like this
that thousands of staff use daily, comes with many challenges, and I thank all of the dedicated
staff members who have been working to ensure that
this transition in November will be as smooth as
possible, through communications, training, and help desks.
[Applause] Now, our staff also includes the officers
and employees of the UT Police Department, who keep our university community safe.
Over the past two years, UT has substantially increased the number of police officers in
UTPD, enhanced emergency communications practices, and most recently, launched a district representative
program. On the campus. We continue to strive for a safer campus.
We know Our efforts can always be improved, but these
are very important steps moving forward.
Now, As the flagship university in Texas, all of
the progress we’ve made stems from one founding principle. The Texas State Constitution of 1876 called
for a “university of the first class.”. UT enrolled its first students seven years
later. And in the years that followed, we grew and evolved.
In 2018, that means we, as a university, have a crucial role in
leading Texas toward an even more vibrant future, through education, research, and health
care. We aren’t just looking at
Our students here today. We are looking at the next generation of students,
so that they can succeed too. We are partnering with high schools, community
colleges, and other universities to increase the number and diversity of Texas students
who are prepared to be successful in college. Already this fall, more
than 30,000 high school students have enrolled in OnRamps courses designed by UT faculty.
And More than half of them are first‑generation
college students. If you look at the state budget, the most
funding goes to education and health care, and that’s because both are critical needs
for the needs of the people in every region, town
and city in Texas. At UT,
education and research have always been our primary focus, but in recent years, we have
also greatly accelerated our health care mission. With the Dell Medical School, we are focusing
on new ways to treat the sick and introducing better approaches to promoting health for
all members of the community, so they can avoid hospitals and clinics.
Dell Medical School now has three classes of students and nearly 300 residents and fellows.
It now has its own clinics, UT Health Austin, which serve patients in Travis County, carrying
out our commitment to the people of Travis County. And Dell Med has earned a planning grant for
the redesign of the Austin State Hospital, as the cornerstone for person‑centered mental
health care across Central Texas. And I do want to take a moment
to recognize the Texas Legislature, and in particular Lieutenant Governor Patrick and
Speaker Straus, for providing essential funding from the state for Dell Med in the
past legislative session. This new state funding allows us to further
our goal of transforming health and health care in Texas.
And I look forward to working with the Legislature
in the upcoming session, to support our students and faculty
in all three of UT’s missions, education, research and health. Transforming health in Texas is one way we
serve our state. Increasing educational opportunity is another.
But there are many other Ways that we are making Texas a
more vibrant place for all who live here. In February, the Blanton opened “Austin,”
a stunning space designed by legendary contemporary artist Ellsworth Kelly, with chromatic windows,
a serene interior, and dramatic marble panels on the walls. This is the only building ever
created by Kelly and it has expanded UT’s reputation as a destination for art lovers,
historians, and scholars from all over the world.
in another realm, Just a few weeks ago, the National Science
Foundation awarded $60 million to UT’s Texas Advanced Computing Center for a leadership‑class
supercomputer that will be the fastest at any U.S. university, and among the most powerful
in the world. This new supercomputer, known as Frontera, clearly establishes UT as the
top university for advanced computing. Texas is our home.
From our home, we engage with partners from around the nation and the world.
As the flagship in the second largest state with the most dynamic economy in the country,
it is fitting that we aim higher and wider. That we look both inward and outward.
At The University of Texas, our goals should be ambitious.
They should reflect the potential that lies within this state, which is why it has become
clear to me that there is one overarching aspiration that reflects the ethos of our
university, And that is: To be the best.
To be the best public university in the nation. That is what we’re striving for.
And it isn’t that far out of reach. To achieve this goal, we will continue to
invest in our three priorities: Improving access in student success and upward
mobility for stall lented students. If we do this, we will create a more vibrant
future for our state and nation. Two, Strengthening our commitment to faculty
and graduate students, who lead The
world‑changing research and scholarship. Their teaching provides future generations
with the knowledge, skills, and experience to set standards of their own.
And three, Serving the state of Texas and beyond.
We do this across all the
disciplines, fields, and areas of expertise that contribute to knowledge and progress.
So, with these goals for our university in mind, I’d like to leave you with the words
of one of my favorite artists, Frida Kahlo, and her famous self‑portrait
behind me, which is part of our Harry ransom center archive is reflective of her. When I was a young teenager, I visited the
home shared by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Mexico City.
I saw the easel she painted on. The decorations they chose together.
Their collections and art. And it was there I learned she struggled throughout her life
with debilitating physical pain. Yet, rather than hindering her, it influenced
her work. Frida Kahlo transfigured adversity into creative expression.
She once said, “Feet, what do I need them for, if I have wings to fly.”
Every person on our campus faces challenges, in the classroom, in the lab, in the studio,
in life. Challenges that we take on and transcend. All of us are here to learn. To imagine.
To improve. To serve.
That is, all of us are here to change the world.
Thank you. [Applause]

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