A Sneak Peek at Big Things

October 4, 2022

Hello Student Affairs Team,

Wow, what a six weeks it’s been! Between the new slate of students making their way to the Forty Acres, the on-campus energy and the heart-stopping thrills of the Texas vs. Alabama game, Fall 2022 is already making history. Even bolder, we are developing a blueprint for implementing the university’s strategic plan, Change Starts Here, which will incorporate much of our work in the Division of Student Affairs. Keep reading to learn more.

Face to Face Again. Naturally.

We hosted two live events in September that enjoyed some amazing turnout:

  • The Welcome Back Brunch was a hit. There’s something about the size, scope and impact of the Division of Student Affairs that isn’t fully translated over a Zoom meeting. But when we’re all in the same room together? Incredible.
  • Watching Texas go toe-to-toe with one of the best football teams in the country at the Vice President for Student Affairs Tailgate for staff was something I won’t soon forget. I suspect future tailgates will end with plenty of Longhorn victories. Hook ’em!

If you couldn’t join us, no worries! There will be many more chances to socialize at staff events in the coming months.

Laddering Up

The university released its 10-year Strategic Plan back in the spring, Change Starts Here, with the goal to make UT Austin “the highest-impact public research university in the world.” Read the plan here.

The plan has 42 initiative areas in total, 20+ of which will be incorporated into this fall term. Many of these initiative areas will pull in the best parts of our work from our departments and units. Each will have initiative area co-leads, advisory committees, workstream leads, working groups and other sources of input built into the work itself.

Stay tuned for how you might be able to lend your voice to some of our specific goals.

Our Strategic Priorities

To support Change Starts Here, our Division will largely focus on two important pillars:

1. Elevate Our Culture
Change Starts Here Initiative Area 1.11, under the “People” pillar  reads, “This initiative — to elevate our culture — will draw in Longhorns of all generations from across the campus and world to help define the values and behaviors that Longhorns share...”

We are uniquely poised to pursue this goal as we are the Division that interacts with all students at the university. I’m excited to share our plans for how we will bring together every part of UT Austin’s global community to craft a clear, compelling picture of what it means to be a Longhorn later this month.

2. Enhance Services for the Whole Student

Change Starts Here Initiative Area 3.1, under the “Experiences” pillar, reads: “For students to reach their fullest potential at UT and beyond, they must have every opportunity to succeed academically, discover and pursue their passions, and lead lives that are physically, mentally, socially and emotionally healthy.”

The Division of Student Affairs will make significant investments with the aspiration of ensuring every student has what they need to thrive. We know — because we see it every day in our work — that Longhorns are so much more than degree-pursuers. They’re students, friends, workers, change-makers, dreamers and strivers. They live the Longhorn life! We’re going to tend to their entire self, and we’re going to do it with passion and innovation.

Thank You and Next Steps

Lastly, I want to say THANK YOU for contributing to our Division’s strategic priorities. Whether you played a formal role in the development, or simply helped us by performing your role with passion and creativity, each one of you has a stake in this endeavor.

When we release our strategic priorities later this month, please let me know what you think. I’d love your thoughts and constructive recommendations. As always, my email inbox and office door are always open (unless I’m walking campus, talking with students!).

Thanks for a great start to the year. It’s going to be a remarkable one — as you make it your Texas, and together we make it our Texas.

For Students, We Will!

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