Checking In

October 26, 2023

Hello Team —

Can you believe we are more than halfway through this fall term? I hope you are finding some time to explore campus with the fall weather and activities. Getting outside is a great way to reflect, recharge and process our busy days. During my walks around campus, I find peace and joy in soaking in the beauty — especially during the tough times.

I know these last few weeks have been difficult given current events around campus and the war in the Middle East. Many of you may be experiencing a range of emotions. And still, you all have listened, collaborated and responded to the emerging needs and concerns of our students. This has not gone unnoticed.

As President Jay Hartzell shared in his message on Oct. 17, “Our campus community will continue to respond and come together, learn from each other, look out for each other, and do our very best to change the world for the better.”

And that’s what each of you do in the Division of Student Affairs as part of the hub of student life and well-being. Thank you for your dedication to our students and each other, and please also take care of yourself while you are doing this valuable work. Remember that the Employee Assistance Program is here to support you as well.

Major Milestones

It’s also important to take a moment to celebrate the ways we are maximizing the Longhorn experience. Let’s give a big round of applause for our colleagues in University Unions, who unveiled two intentionally-designed, student-focused spaces this month!

Alienware Longhorn Esports Arena Opening
Soncia Reagins-Lilly (back row, fourth from left) with students at the Alienware Longhorn Esports Arena opening

Alienware Longhorn Esports Arena

Thanks to our longstanding partnership with Dell Technologies, we cut the ribbon on Oct. 11 for the Arena. This 3,400 square-foot transformative student space for interactive esports play and production is located in the historic Texas Union Underground. The Arena builds on the success of the Alienware Longhorn Esports Lounge, which opened in August 2022. Together, they are an esports powerhouse for our students to network in the esports industry and field, develop life and career skills, and enjoy student life on campus. 

The Arena is also unlocking new learning opportunities, strengthening our academic partnerships and complementing our students’ pursuits in creative arts and entertainment technologies, computer science, media production and game design. We are indeed helping clear the path for students to graduate and find future success! Hear about the excitement in the latest episode of our Living the Longhorn Life podcast.

Hogg Memorial Auditorium open house event
VP Lilly (third from left) with some Student Conduct Board members at Hogg Memorial Auditorium

Hogg Memorial Auditorium

It's back, better than ever! After a two-year, $27.8 million renovation, the 90-year-old Auditorium reopened on Oct. 4, with a visit from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The event was a great academic partnership with the University’s Clements Center for National Security and the Strauss Center for International Security and Law. And tomorrow, we host our first concert for students, faculty and staff in the Auditorium with Austin native Gary Clark, Jr. Learn more about Hogg’s rich history in this story.

It’s clear that the Auditorium is already proving to be a premier center for student life — a place for experiences and learning. I can’t wait to see all the ways we help our students showcase their talents here including music, arts and comedy shows. See for yourself at a student, faculty and staff talent showcase, an open house for our campus community on Nov. 29, 1-8 p.m.

These spaces demonstrate our pledge to invest in the vibrancy of our campus and contribute to Austin’s arts culture and technology sector. What a way for the Texas Union and Hogg Memorial Auditorium to ring in their 90th birthdays!

Take care and remember that you are profoundly changing the world for the better. I am grateful for each and every one of you.

For Students, We Will!

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