Announcing My Retirement

January 23, 2024

Dear Division Team and Student Leaders,

I have always put my work ahead of everything — to serve, to protect, to care for, to love, to defend, to do whatever our students, our staff and our University needed in that moment. But that work during the past four decades has begun to take a toll on me and my family as the demands require a different balance and commitment.

I have loved my work. And I love my University. Most of all, I love whom I do it with and for. But I have made an important life choice — to put myself and my family above all else. This is not a rash decision — rather a thoughtful, prayer-filled and methodical approach during the past nine-plus months. It has been grueling and emotional and one that I have kept to only those closest to me. I first approached President Jay Hartzell at the start of last summer about the very personal challenges I have and continue to face. Sadly, those challenges continue to mount with a mom who increasingly needs her daughter to be a daughter, a friend and a full-time caregiver.

During the holidays, I realized it was impossible to leave my mom, whom I care for daily, and give everything I have to her and the students who need me. The demands at home and work are simply too great. And, the work that is required of our team needs a leader who can put the University and its students above all else. President Hartzell graciously agreed to allow me to transition away from my role and to serve him in ways that only someone with four-plus decades of understanding and experience can. It will be a change for all of us, but one that allows me to be where I need to be. I have offered to continue to advise the president, helping to transition the interim and permanent vice president for student affairs as well as the University’s strategic plan. I am thankful to him for allowing me to continue to stay connected with the University in this new limited capacity. It is a blessing to me and my family.

I will miss so many things, no longer being on campus and leading the Division of Student Affairs and the Dean of Students office. Most of all, I will miss you. I will miss the daily interactions. I will miss the heroic (and yes, it is heroic) work of our team being there and asked to do the impossible. You have come through again and again, always doing what we promise — putting students first. I will find a way to say thank you, personally, to each of you. I will never forget our work and, most importantly, the impact of our work on those who count on us.

UT has been my home for more than 17 years, and the Division of Student Affairs team is my family. I have had the honor to serve as one of seven vice presidents for student affairs at the University. And, it has been a professional honor to work with you as we strived to collectively inspire every student to live the Longhorn life through our transformative opportunities, programs and communities. Your undeniable spirit, can-do mindset and unwavering commitment are what make our division the hub of student life and well-being. Most importantly, you always made sure that our students know they belong here. And you continue that spirit every day. For that and everything you do, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Although I am retiring and officially transitioning away from campus, please know that I am only a phone call away. And, in true Division of Student Affairs manner, yes, I will answer the phone and respond immediately. In the meantime, you will find me at home, walking around the lake, reading under a tree, singing and dancing with my mom, and beginning to enjoy the fruits of 40 years of service in higher education, with the past 17 bleeding burnt orange. I will always be a proud Longhorn and forever grateful for my time with you.

With love, gratitude and blessings,

Soncia Reagins-Lilly
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students