Executive Vice President

Photo Credit: Courtesy of UT Austin

The UT System Board of Regents voted Friday to select Greg Fenves, UT executive vice president and provost, as the sole finalist to become the next UT president.

If approved, Fenves will replace outgoing President William Powers Jr., whose relationship with the Board has been tumultuous for the last several years. The Board must wait 21 days before making an official appointment. 

Fenves came to UT as a civil engineering assistant professor in 1984 and served as dean for the Cockrell School of Engineering from 2008 to 2013. In his capacity as provost, Fenves has been responsible for academic, research and curriculum affairs, as well as resource allocation for faculty recruitment. Working with deans and other academic officials, Fenves also oversees planning and operations for libraries, museums, collections, and research centers.

Sharon Wood, who succeeded Fenves as engineering school dean, said she first met Fenves when he was a faculty member at the University of California-Berkeley nearly 25 years ago.

“I was very taken aback at his very strong vision. He articulated it very well — where he wanted the department to go and what targets they had,” Wood said.

Since his appointment as provost in October 2013, Fenves has worked closely with Powers on a variety of University initiatives. At Friday’s meeting, three of the regents who have been most vocal in their criticism of Powers — Wallace Hall, Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich — all voted against Fenves.

Board Chairman Paul Foster said he felt the dissenting voices speak well to the Board’s decision-making process.

“I think it’s wonderful that we have a diverse board and that we don’t rubber stamp any issues,” Foster said. “We thoroughly vet every issue and all of our regents feel completely comfortable expressing their views.”

Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, president of the Texas Exes, said the selection committee favored Fenves after it interviewed him for the president position. Fenves was one of three main candidates in the search, alongside current UT-Dallas President David Daniel and Oxford University Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton. Hamilton, who was widely reported to be the front-runner, announced he was taking a position as president at New York University early last week. 

“[Fenves] had a wonderful interview with the selection committee, and he was a top choice,” Hutchison said. “I think the Texas Exes are going to be very pleased because he has overwhelming support from the people that sent me their recommendations.”

Wood said she knows Fenves has a strong work ethic, as demonstrated by his early rising habits.

“I used to joke with him — I get up very early because I exercise before work, and so if I ever want to catch Greg, I know that five in the morning is the best time to send him an email,” Wood said. “I know I’ll get a response back immediately.”

In light of budget shortfalls in the state government, Jefferson Coombs, executive director of the Cal Alumni Association, said Fenves would be able to provide strong support for continued funding at UT.

“At this time when public research universities face a lot of challenges in terms of funding from the state, I think he’s a fantastic advocate for the impact and the power and the importance of public higher education,” Coombs said.

Coombs said he believes Fenves will continue and build upon Powers’ goal of maintaining clear lines of communication with the UT community.

“I really get the impression that he is going to not just maintain strong dialogue with students. I get the impression that he wants to expand it and that he is very personally enthusiastic about the connection with students,” Coombs said.

As provost, Fenves has helped lead the effort to launch the Dell Medical School and greenlight construction on the Engineering Education and Research Center, a $310 million, 430,000-square-foot building dedicated to research and student projects. The building is slated for completion in 2017.

Fenves serves on multiple committees at UT, including the Dean Search and the Dell Medical School Steering committees.

He has also received numerous national awards, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, and from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Walter L. Huber Research Prize, the Moisseiff Award, and the J. James R. Croes Medal.

Oxford University Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton, previously considered the front-runner for the UT presidency, will become New York University’s president in January 2016.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Phil Sayer | Daily Texan Staff

Two finalists are left in the search for President William Powers Jr.’s replacement after New York University administrators announced that Oxford University Vice Chancellor Andrew Hamilton would be their next president.

Hamilton, whom many considered to be the front-runner for the UT presidency, will succeed NYU president John Sexton in January 2016, NYU administrators announced last week. The UT System Board of Regents interviewed Hamilton earlier this month, as did a small search committee.

At this point, Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of the University, and UT-Dallas President David Daniel are the remaining finalists in the search for the next UT president, according to sources directly involved with the search committee.

Fenves, who has held his provost position since October 2013, served five years as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. As the University’s chief academic officer, Fenves is closely connected to Powers, whose relationship with the Board of Regents has been tumultuous at times.

Daniel, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in engineering from UT, became UT-Dallas’ president in 2005. During his tenure there, UT-Dallas’ enrollment has grown from 13,000 to 23,000 students, and the university has raised more than $360 million in private funds.

Before joining Oxford in 2009, Hamilton worked as a chemistry assistant professor at Princeton University and then as chemistry professor and department chair at the University of Pittsburgh. He also served as provost of Yale University from 2004 until 2008.

Hamilton said he has been a “keen observer” of NYU over the years and was honored to have been considered in the NYU presidential search.

“I am delighted to be selected as NYU’s 16th president,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I am looking forward with great eagerness to working with NYU’s faculty, students, administrators, and staff, and to joining a university that is so manifestly energetic, innovative, and successful.”

Hamilton is the second to drop from the System’s handful of prospective candidates. The list had previously included Joseph Steinmetz, the executive vice president and provost at The Ohio State University, but he withdrew his candidacy in February.

Following the Board of Regents’ interviews with Daniel, Fenves and Hamilton, UT System Chancellor William McRaven recommended the board defer naming a finalist or list of finalists until later this month. The Board must vote to name one or more finalists and then wait 21 days before making an official appointment.

Since arriving at Texas, head coach Charlie Strong has dismissed nine players from the football program. The Longhorns hold a 2-2 record after shutting out Kansas on Saturday. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Although the Longhorns didn’t return from Lawrence, Kansas, until late Saturday night, head coach Charlie Strong was back at work Sunday morning. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, met with Strong to seek his advice on the moral dilemmas plaguing the league.

“[Strong’s] emphasis on character [and] respect over talent is molding the next generation of football talent,” Vincent tweeted. “Commissioner and I are focused on strengthening relationships with colleges. Thank you for your time today [Charlie Strong].”

The NFL has recently come under fire for its lax discipline policies. The league received broad criticism for waiting to discipline Ray Rice, former Baltimore Ravens running back, following allegations of domestic violence. After the accusations spread and video footage went viral, the Ravens terminated Rice’s contract Sept. 8. The
Minnesota Vikings placed running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted for child abuse, on the Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list
on Sept. 17.

Throughout the month, the NFL has worked to restore its image and credibility amid criticism from a wide range of outlets. Goodell visited the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin for three hours on Saturday night. The following morning, he and Vincent met with 11 former NFL players, followed
by Strong.

“This morning, [Goodell] [and] I met [with] [Coach Strong] to discuss core values, game integrity, [and] college relations. Great meeting, great input,” Vincent tweeted.

Strong’s “core values” have attracted national attention during his time at Texas and at Louisville. Strong requires players to be honest, treat women with respect and refrain from drugs, stealing and guns — all policies he actively enforces. Since arriving in Austin, Strong has dismissed nine players who violated team rules and three other players are currently suspended from playing in games.

Most recently, Strong dismissed junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle on Tuesday. 

“The blueprint of this program has been and always will be the change in helping direct the lives of young people,” Strong said. “I’m sorry that another player had to be dismissed, but when you’re told something over and over again, then you want to make sure that you’re provided with the right resources so that you can change lives.”

John Clayton, ESPN senior NFL writer, said in an interview that Goodell met with Strong in hopes of expanding his response resources and developing a long-term
disciplinary plan.

“Strong has been dealing with issues at his school, and what the league and what the players association want to do is try to find different types of ideas that they can use to come up with some kind of a plan because I think it’s pretty evident they don’t have a plan that’s working right now,” Clayton said.

Sharon Wood, a structural engineer and chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, has been appointed interim dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. 

Wood will fill the vacancy left by Gregory Fenves, who was announced as the University’s new executive vice president and provost last month.

Wood, who is the school’s first female dean and was the first female department chair in the Cockrell School, said she is excited about the challenges the position will present — particularly the work she will do to secure funding for the University’s planned Engineering Education and Research Center. The building did not receive a tuition revenue bond in the most recent legislative session.

“It’s a really exciting time at the school,” Wood said. “We will need to raise the funds to move forward with our new building … but I’ve been involved from the beginning and I’m really looking forward to that challenge.” 

Though Wood said she is excited to begin the process, she said accepting the offered position was not an easy decision.

“It actually took me a couple of days to decide [to become the interim dean],” Wood said. “Professionally, there are many benefits, but I was going to teach a class this semester, and I’m going to have to give that up. I’ll also have to cut back on my research for the year.”

Wood said accepting the position ultimately seemed like the best choice.

“I just had to weigh factors,” she said.

In a statement, UT’s outgoing Executive Vice President and Provost Steven Leslie, said he is confident in Wood’s ability to lead the School of Engineering. 

“The Cockrell School of Engineering will be in the hands of a distinguished and skillful leader as Sharon Wood assumes her responsibilities as interim dean,” Leslie said in the statement. “She has been an integral part of the Cockrell leadership team and has the research and administrative acumen to continue to propel the school in developing engineering leaders for tomorrow.”

Wood said she hopes her visibility as a female dean will help inspire new female engineering students.

“It’s important for women to have role models,” Wood said. “It’s important to see women as faculty members, department chairs and in the administration.”

Wood, a fourth-generation civil engineer, said her role models were her family members. 

“I decided I wanted to be a civil engineer when I was about eight years old,” Wood said. “My dad took me out to a construction site.”

After six years as executive vice president and provost, Steven Leslie will be stepping down from his position to return to the College of Pharmacy in August.

“For the past six years, Provost Leslie has been an indispensable partner in transforming the academic life of The University of Texas,” President William Powers Jr. said in a blog post Friday. “He has guided our deans and vice provosts with a steady hand and a vision that encompasses all aspects of this vast university.”

Powers appointed Leslie, then dean of the College of Pharmacy, to the vice president and provost position in 2007. Leslie has a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology, and in his former position conducted research on topics that included alcohol’s effect on the brain. He joined the University as an assistant professor in 1974.

M. Lynn Crismon, dean of the College of Pharmacy, said in an e-mail that the college is excited to see Leslie return as a professor. 

“Dr. Leslie was a great provost, and it was my honor to serve as a dean under his leadership,” Crismon wrote. “We welcome him back to our college, and we look forward to him contributing positively to the mission of the College of Pharmacy.”

In his role as provost, the top academic post at the University, Leslie reported directly to the president and oversaw all 18 college deans and more than a dozen other senior academic posts. More recently, he led the early planning stages of UT’s new medical school. The provost’s office is in charge of deciding the new dean’s salary and overseeing the $1.2 million set aside for medical or surgery faculty salaries this year. A new dean has not yet been hired. 

The UT System Board of Regents voted last May to provide $25 million annually toward the medical school and an additional $5 million for the first eight years for equipment. 

Michael Morton, president of the Senate of College Councils, said Leslie has been a continuous advocate for students.

“Throughout his tenure, Provost Leslie has been a strong supporter of students and has worked constantly to strengthen the University academically,” Morton said. “He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I know he’ll continue to play an important role on campus.”

Published on February 11. 2013 as "Univeristy provost of six years resigns". 

Only five of the University’s 18 schools and colleges created and posted plans to address gender inequality in the faculty that a special task force reported in 2008.

The University’s provost created a Gender Equity Task Force in 2007. The task force based their report on examination of existing statistics and faculty surveys.

The report recommended the University create a plan with specific goals for each college or school dean to reduce faculty gender inequalities, including underrepresentation of women in administrative roles and unequal pay. It also recommended that each college or school create and post a plan specific to its own gender inequalities.
More than 60 percent of UT faculty are male, according to the 2009-2010 Statistical Handbook.

Before the regular Faculty Council meeting Monday, Sue Heinzelman, English associate professor and director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, asked in writing whether each college and school had created and posted its recommended plans on their websites.

Executive Vice President and Provost Judith Langlois addressed the question, saying each college and school is in different stages of completing and posting their plans.

There is no deadline to complete the process, but Faculty Council Chair Dean Neikirk said the plans should be completed soon.

“The question was these were supposed to be made available, and everybody’s supposed have one. Has that been done yet? And the answer was, well it’s partially done and hopefully it will all be done very shortly,” said Neikirk, a computer and electrical engineering professor.

Only the Colleges of Education, Fine Arts, Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences and the School of Architecture have posted plans and fulfilled the recommendations in the gender equity report.

Neikirk said to promote gender equity during the state budget crunch, academic units will have to apply funds strategically as new hires and raises will be difficult.

“There’s a real attempt to try to be strategic about where to look for savings, not look across the board,” Neikirk said. “Similarly, if we’re to enhance something, that should be strategic, not across the board. Gender equity has a direct impact on the quality of faculty. We don’t want to lose our best faculty, certainly not because they think they aren’t being treated equitably.”

After the gender equity discussion, the discussion was shifted to a new survey that will be conducted this year to asses the undergraduate experience.

The University will send each of its more than 35,000 undergraduates a survey developed and conducted by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. UT conducted a pilot version of the survey last year but only received about a 20 percent response rate.

Gale Stuart, director of assessment for the Office of the Dean of Students, said current undergraduate surveys only sample enough students for colleges up to around 8,000 students. By surveying the whole undergraduate population, the Berkeley study captures statistically viable data with enough responses.

Executive Vice President and Provost Gretchen Ritter said the survey will give administrators, down to the department level, a picture of how effectively professors are connecting with students.

“It’s an important survey in that it’s helping us get a better handle on how well prepared students are when they come in and their own sense of the academic challenges they face here, so that we can do a better job in supporting their academic success on campus,” Ritter said.