Office of the Vice

Juan Sanchez, vice president for research, will step down from his position in August of this year. 

“It has been a pleasure and a privilege for me to serve this great university of ours as VP for research,” Sanchez said.

Before he started at UT in 1989 in the mechanical engineering department, Sanchez was a materials science professor at Columbia University from 1987–1989 and a renowned researcher worldwide.

During his service as vice president of research, Sanchez established the Office of Research Support to increase faculty research support, extended the University’s research collaboration with the private sector and contributed to the tenfold increase in revenues for technological commercialization, according to the Office of the Provost.

“Dr. Sanchez has led the research enterprise at UT with distinction, and I am grateful for his leadership,” said Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost and next UT president, in a statement. “UT Austin has developed a worldwide reputation for successes in research and scholarship by faculty, students and research staff with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research.”

J. Tinsley Oden, associate vice president for research, said Sanchez has raised the school’s reputation as a research university. Under Sanchez, the Texas Advanced Computing Center, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, Bureau of Economic Geology, Applied Research Laboratories and several other UT research units have become top research enterprises in their respective areas in the world, according to Oden.

“His remarkable work as vice president of research will have a lasting impact on UT’s research image and record,” Oden said. “He has been an extraordinary administrator, an indefatigable worker, an international spokesman and advocate for UT-Austin and a superb manager during those years.” 

Sanchez will go on to lead a research program as a faculty member, as well as teach in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The search for his replacement will commence in the next few weeks.

In the future of research, the University will build on Sanchez’s successes by expanding opportunities in areas such as medicine and health care to advance the University’s mission to create knowledge, according to Fenves.

“He certainly will leave the office of the [vice president for research] in sound shape and well-positioned to continue its growth and service to UT and the state,” Oden said.

Sanchez’s official last day will be August 31.

Less than two weeks after staging a sit-in in the lobby of President William Powers Jr.’s office, the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition carried out a similar demonstration Monday afternoon in the Office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Unlike the April 18 sit-in, the activists decided not to stay in the office after 5 p.m., which would have resulted in arrests.

Monday’s sit-in came after a candlelight vigil held in front of Powers’ Tarrytown home Sunday night, when 25 activists used candles to illuminate several crosses bearing the names of deceased or murdered workers.

Plan II senior Andrew Wortham, who participated in Monday’s sit-in, said the coalition’s demands remain the same — that the President meet with the group’s student leaders and that the University affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium.

The WRC, the coalition argues, would more effectively monitor labor conditions in factories producing UT apparel than the Fair Labor Association, the monitoring agency with which the University currently affiliates.

“We told the administration that we were not leaving until a meeting between the President’s office and our democratically-elected leaders had been arranged,” Wortham said. “Administrators said that if we wrote a letter to the Dean of Students and to the President requesting a meeting that they would respond with an answer within 24 hours.”

The administration’s response to the letter will indicate whether President Powers’ stance on meeting with coalition members has changed or remained the same since the April 18 arrests.

“The students are going to submit via email a list of names to meet with President Powers,” saidUniversity spokesman Gary Susswein. “The President has concerns about meeting with students who have been arrested. We will see which students are on their list and their reasons for why they should meet with the President.”

The administration agreed to meet with two student members of the coalition last week — geography senior Carson Chavana and special education graduate student Alonzo Mendoza, neither of whom were arrested on April 18. The administration, however, refused to meet with previously arrested leaders William Yates, an Asian studies senior, and Bianca Hinz-Foley, a Plan II student not enrolled this semester. The coalition rejected the meeting on the grounds that Chavana and Mendoza would not be able to adequately represent the diverse coalition or provide the administration with new information regarding labor conditions.

The activists entered the office in order to submit Freedom of Information Act requests for documents pertaining to the University’s labor contracts, licensing agreements with apparel brands including Nike and the locations of factories that produce UT apparel, Wortham said. “We got into the office around 2 or 2:30 p.m., lined up against a wall and began filling out FOIA applications,” Wortham said.

Office staff were holding a party for a co-worker when the activists arrived and police kept some protesters outside because the room’s maximum occupancy limit had been reached, Wortham said.

“The cops said that we had to leave because, with the office party going on, the room was beyond its maximum occupancy,” Wortham said. “We told them that our business was more official than their office party and refused to leave.”

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as: Protesters sit-in at administrative office