A Message from Our VP, September 2021

Sept. 1, 2021

Hello Team,

Oprah Winfrey is fond of asking her guests a particular question, one that’s been on my mind lately. She asks, in the way only Oprah can, “What do you know for certain?”

She’s asking what her guest’s core beliefs are — the truths in which they live their lives. It’s a profound question, and one that we should all check in with now and then.

Here’s one thing I know for certain: you — and all of our colleagues in the Division of Student Affairs — are one of the bedrocks of The University of Texas at Austin.

I don’t say that lightly. I’ve seen a lot during my career in higher education, and I’ve never met a group who takes such pride in their work — who brings such passion, day in and out, to their tasks. You embrace creativity and innovation. You find new ways to make the lives of our students safer, richer, more complete.

Over the last 18 months, some of you never stopped coming to campus. Others will be coming back soon after spending what may feel like an eternity working remotely. But each of you, no matter your circumstances or personal hurdles, have continued to give this important institution your everything. You’ve been asked to pivot several times — to find a Plan B, C and D — and you continue to do so.

For all of this effort, I’ll never be able to thank you enough. Most students will never know just how much they owe to your grit and expertise. But their lives — and the lives of our campus community, our families and myself — are better thanks to what you do every day.

The road ahead may seem unsteady right now. But please take the peace of mind knowing that this Division, along with the university as a whole, will put your well-being and safety first.

With you in mind, we’ve made some changes to the plans for our Vice President for Student Affairs Fall 2021 Kickoff on Sept. 8. Following university guidance to hold large events outdoors whenever possible, we will be hosting a Division-wide Welcome Back Brunch between 9-11 a.m. at the Tower Memorial Garden (Turtle Pond). I hope to see you all there reconnecting with your colleagues and enjoying some food on us! This event will be come-and-go, so we’ve asked our previously scheduled speaker, Chet Garner from “The Daytripper,” to join us at a future meeting. He’s looking forward to the opportunity.

Leading this Division remains an honor that I cherish deeply. I know for certain that this academic year will be a bridge between then and now, and I am looking forward to what’s ahead.

Hook ’em,

Soncia Reagins-Lilly

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students