A Fantastic Start

September 1, 2022

Hello Student Affairs Team,

Let me guess: You’re off to a blazing start. The new academic year is in full swing, and your calendar is already filling up with meetings, programs and events. Your to-do list is bursting at its seams. You’re full of ideas for how to make your work, your team, your department and our university better.

I can relate. For me, no time of the year is more thrilling than these first few weeks of a new academic year. New students, campus abuzz with energy again. New coworkers arrive, old colleagues return. Plans start to take shape, and opportunities abound.

I can report that, if these first few weeks of 2022-23 are a sign, this will be our finest year ever as a Division. Let me quickly tell you why…

Out of the Starting Blocks!
When you’re one of the largest universities on the planet, the beginning of a new year can easily become a logistical challenge. But when you’re the Division of Student Affairs, it turns into a dream.

Sorry to mix my sports metaphors, but you have knocked it out of the park!

  • Classes have been underway since August 22.
  • More than 10,000 brand new Longhorns joined our community since then.
  • Another 40,000 or so returned to campus for their next year.
  • All are living the Longhorn life!

Each of us plays a role in welcoming new students. Each of us is an ambassador for our university. And I couldn’t be more thrilled to witness how every one of you has started this year out with enthusiasm and optimism. It’s going to be a great year because you’re making it so.

I’d love to give a special shout-out to New Student Services for once again organizing our annual Longhorn Welcome. They spent countless hours thinking of every student, every detail, and working with campus partners to make sure our students felt connected. And it all went off without a hitch.

I can also say with confidence that this academic year is set up for success because of all the incredible talent we have across the Division and the great accomplishments we had in the last year.

Reflect on Last Academic Year
Today, we are launching our annual Impact Report (dig in here!). Please read it, because it’s all about you. It’s filled with stories both great and small from across our Division. And it was a year unlike any other — a year of transition, of moving from the uncertainty of the pandemic to exciting growth ahead.

Recreational Sports Leadership Transition
Today is a day of leadership transition with the retirement of Tom Dison who leaves a  prolific legacy after working 48 years in the Division of Student Affairs. During this transition, my goal is to remain the vice president of the premier Recreational Sports program in the nation. To lead us forward, I am pleased to announce that Jennifer Speer has been appointed the executive director of Recreational Sports, effective today.

Jennifer earned a Master of Science in Sports Administration degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and began her career after graduate school at Recreational Sports where she is now entering her 24th year. Jennifer has had a stellar career at our university with progressive leadership roles in the department and in the Division of Student Affairs. I am confident that in the days ahead that she will continue to create innovative strategies, build on existing excellence and direct operations that align with the goals and strategic priorities of the Division. Please join me in congratulating Jennifer on this new leadership role!

Reconnect with Your Colleagues!
As we start the semester, it’s a great time to catch up with your Division colleagues at two upcoming come-and-go events that we hope you will plan to attend.

Division of Student Affairs Tailgate
Texas vs. Alabama
Saturday, September 10, 9 a.m. (Kickoff is 11 a.m.)
Dining Room, Joe C. Thompson Conference Center

Division of Student Affairs Fall 2022 Welcome Back Brunch
Wednesday, September 14, 9–11 a.m.
Multipurpose Room, San Jacinto Hall

Show up when you can, stay as long as you can. Get together and reconnect. Catch up, talk about your summer adventures, commiserate about the heat, and enjoy some delicious sweet and savory treats. They are going to be fun events!

For Students, We Will!

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