New Year News

January 12, 2023

Hello Student Affairs Team,

What a pleasure it is to welcome you back to another spring term! I hope your winter break was rejuvenating. Now, it’s full steam ahead — Spring Orientation is on the books, classes started Monday and our team is rolling out the red carpet to help create community for our students. I hope you had a chance to swing by our Welcome Bash on the Main Mall, a job well done by many Division of Student Affairs departments. More great events and community building opportunities are underway as we continue our Spring Welcome. I’m eager to be back at it in 2023, looking ahead to some exciting times for our team of “influencers” as we support student success as students experience the Longhorn life.

Reimagining How We Work Together
We have a unique opportunity to transform our work with a focus on student well-being in synchronicity with the university’s new strategic plan and our Division of Student Affairs strategic priorities. I wanted to share some alignments aimed to enhance our efforts to support our students’ campus experience and academic journey.

Marla Craig has been appointed as the executive director of the Counseling and Mental Health Center. Marla has risen through the ranks of CMHC during the past 15 years, making her the ideal leadership choice as we move forward with our laser focus on student well-being. She began her UT Austin career as an intern and contract therapist, then served as CMHC’s clinical director, and later as its senior associate clinical director. The size, diversity and complexity of Marla’s previous roles at CMHC rivals the scope of what most counseling center directors do on other college campuses. In its 83-year history, CMHC has only had five directors, with Marla becoming the sixth. She represents many firsts in this position, including the first woman and the first Hispanic director. I have the highest confidence in her abilities, judgment and vision.

I have appointed Chris Brownson as associate vice president for health and well-being, which includes overseeing Recreational Sports in addition to CMHC and University Health Services. This alignment creates an enhanced portfolio and new synergy that is focused on major components of student well-being programs and services. The staffing and leadership structures in all three departments will remain the same.

I am excited about how this organizational shift and these expanded roles will support our transformation as the Division leads the development of the “whole student!”

Team Appreciation and Celebration
Coming together as a Division to honor our annual Texas Parents Staff Merit Award recipients is among my favorite Division-wide traditions. Our staff nominate their colleagues who go above and beyond their duties to make a lasting impact on student success.

Join us to celebrate these award recipients and how our entire team influences the life of every Longhorn on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 9-10 a.m. in the Texas Union’s Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom.

Again, thank you for starting 2023 with a reinvigorated passion for your work — looking forward to seeing you soon.

For Students, We Will!

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