Dear UT Research PI’s and Scholars:
(January 19, 2016) Today is my first day as UT’s new Vice President for Research. The chance to learn about the exciting work you are all doing and to be a part of moving it forward will make this a wonderful adventure. I want first to recognize the tremendous contribution of Prof. Juan Sanchez, who served as VPR for the past 16 years. I am especially grateful to Juan for his help and advice during the transition.
As a long-time member of UT’s research community, I believe strongly in the value of research and scholarship for their impact on our teaching mission, on the economy and national security, on society, and on the human imagination. Today and every day, all of us need to be thinking of new ways to work together to broaden and deepen this impact. What we want is a self-sustaining sense of excitement, motion, and community that helps all of us do more and better research. My job is to listen to and support the projects you create, to build overarching themes and initiatives that can unite our work, and to seek out and connect UT with new national and international opportunities.
More than anything, we need a sense of common enterprise and excitement. Research and scholarship can be very tribal. We all need to look around the campus and ask how we can connect with other groups and teams and help them make their projects grow and succeed. I will work hard to make collaboration easier and to help us all realize the benefits of mutual generosity and shared enthusiasm.
Over the next months, the VPR’s office will be bringing out new programs and making changes to old ones.
Building on the ideas expounded by President Fenves in his inauguration speech, we will use community input to build a list of tough questions and big problems that can provide a strategic framework for the growth of research at UT.
We will work hard to make it possible for the creators of new knowledge to spend their time creating, not pushing paper, while insuring the highest legal, ethical, and safety standards. We will examine old and new processes and rules through the lens of their impact on research productivity.
And we will develop new ways to provide an environment where faculty and researchers can gather quickly around innovative ideas and where risk-taking is possible.
With synergies between the new Dell Medical School and the rest of campus and the growth of Austin as a destination for people with talent, we have a unique opportunity to increase the volume and impact of the research at UT. We will work with the Dell leadership to ensure that we make the best use of this remarkable confluence of positive forces.
We will join with many others around campus to make opportunities for undergrads to participate in real research. We all know that simply memorizing the facts and learning today’s skills will not sustain the careers or properly prepare the minds and spirits for everything that will come the way of undergrads over their entire lives. With our large and diverse student body and enormous research enterprise, UT can change the world by using research to prepare students to face new challenges in their own lives, to become part of the creation of future knowledge, and to help solve the problems society will encounter in the future.
We will help get out the word about the great work done at UT, both to the public and to the worlds of scholarship and research. The digital revolution is changing the way we communicate with each other and with society at large. We need to develop new approaches to academic publishing, peer interaction, and news dissemination.
Another way UT faces the world is through partnership. We will look for new opportunities to build relationships with peer institutions, national and international laboratories, with industry, and with our alumni and donor communities to address the most interesting research problems and the most pressing societal needs.
Great things can happen if the whole research community comes together and contributes. I welcome your ideas, your plans, and your solutions to problems. I will reach out to all of you in different ways and I hope you will also reach out to me. Look for updates in the coming months and feel free to email me with your input and ideas.
I look forward to working with you.
Your New Vice President for Research