What Lies Ahead

May 3, 2022

Dear Student Affairs Colleagues,

As we close out this semester, I wanted to take this opportunity to paint a picture of the exciting times ahead!

Today, President Hartzell launched Change Starts Here: UT’s 10-Year Strategic Plan to Increase Impact, a roadmap for how we will become the world’s highest-impact, public research university. That aspiration rests on five strategic pillars that are core to the university’s impact: People, Place and Pursuits of Education, Experience and Research. You all will play a central role in helping achieve the 42 bold initiatives in the plan, many of which enhance the work we currently have underway. The plan’s initiatives include:

  • Serving more students and supporting academic success at all levels by expanding integrated programming to support the whole student mentally, physically, socially and emotionally.
  • Increasing housing and transportation availability and affordability for students, faculty and staff.
  • Aggressively pursuing outstanding, high potential staff, supporting their professional development and providing opportunities for rewarding career journeys and experiences.
  • Supporting our people by activating our ambitious diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan, You Belong Here, a key part of the strategic plan.

Our Division is creating our own strategic plan for 2022-2027, led by Associate Vice President Celena Mondie-Milner. Our plan will be aligned with the university’s plan. We’ve interviewed more than 200 Division staff, conducted surveys and focus groups — all aimed at helping us understand our needs, challenges, strengths and opportunities. We’ve identified overarching themes to help us create our key strategic directions. Now, we will spend the next several months mapping out the specifics of our plan. Both strategic plans will be fueled by the What Starts Here fundraising campaign, our university’s boldest fundraising effort ever.

And a reminder: be sure to attend my final VP for Student Affairs Office Hours of the semester this Monday, May 9, at 11 a.m., to learn more about these strategic plans. Take some time to read Change Starts Here before we meet. Find what excites you. Where would you like to make a difference in the next decade? Where are you best poised to contribute? We welcome your questions and feedback!

Finally, I’d like to share a couple of thoughts on the academic year we’ve just been through.

First, thank you. I cannot say this enough. Your resilience this academic year has been a personal inspiration. I’m fueled by your deep commitment to what we do for this university.

Second, please find time this summer to step away, even if only briefly, from your work. Refuel yourself. Rejuvenate your energy. Relax. Reflect on all we’ve been through together, and then gaze into our future with excitement. Because what starts here — here in the Division of Student Affairs — is already changing the world.

And it’s only going to get better.

For Students, We Will!

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