Bring on Spring

March 1, 2022

Dear Student Affairs Colleagues,

I’m eager to share this news with you!

What Starts Here

You may have heard about the “What Starts Here” campaign, and we will officially launch it on March 4 and 5. In support of this campaign, our Division will raise money to support students in four areas:

  • Cultivating Student Success by adding more scholarships, expanding leadership programs and offering more experiential learning opportunities.
  • Enhancing the Student Experience by enhancing our facilities, expanding housing options and innovating how we make the entire college experience more dynamic and memorable.
  • Improving Student Health and Well-Being by extending quality care through University Health Services and adding greater access to new mental health supports.
  • Responding to Urgent Needs by funding Student Emergency Services and growing the UT Outpost footprint on campus.

In addition to these fundraising goals, we’re also going to build a $5 million endowment for the Vice President for Student Affairs NOW Fund. The NOW Fund serves to help the Division of Student Affairs stay innovative, nimble and strategic to meet students where they are and help them reach their highest potential.

Recruiting and Retaining Talent

You’ve probably heard about America’s “Great Resignation,” in which millions of professionals are leaving their jobs to seek new career opportunities. We’ve always prided ourselves on being an incredible place to work, but nevertheless, our Division isn’t immune to these forces.

Moving forward, I’m committed to doing everything feasible to keep the Division filled with the best and brightest team members possible.

There are many ways we can make our Division an even more rewarding, vibrant destination for professionals just like you. In addition to serving on the University’s Talent Management Ad Hoc Group on Staff Recruitment and Retention, another approach I’m exploring is incorporating “performance psychology” into our operations. Performance psychology, which helps each of us develop a powerful and resilient mindset, is pioneered by Nate Zinsser, a professor at West Point. His work emphasizes confidence despite setbacks, concentration despite distractions and composure under pressure — three skills I think can benefit all of us as we work our way out of the pandemic.

As always, I’m eager to hear your ideas about how we, as a Division, can perform at our best. I hope you will join our next VPSA Office Hours on March 7 and please send your questions or comments in advance.

Enjoy your month. Soak up the first few days of spring. And, as always…

For Students, We Will!

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