vice president for research

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.

A recent proposal from Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to cut non-defense discretionary spending could adversely affect research institutions, including UT, said UT’s vice president for research, Juan Sanchez. The federal fiscal year officially ended in September 2010, and since then, agencies have operated on the belief that their budgets for the fiscal year of 2011 would be renewed. But House Republicans are now preparing to pass a resolution to carry the government through the next fiscal year and set a limit on the amount they are willing to spend. The bill, which has not yet been released, could impact institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The bill could also reduce the U.S. Department of Energy’s budget by 18 percent, or about $800 million. “This is a cut that is based on spending for the entire year, but all of those $880 million have to be cut out of what was being spent in those seven months,” said Barry Toiv, spokesman for the Association of American Universities. “That makes it a much steeper cut.” The proposal would have to pass in the Senate and then be signed by President Obama, so there is still uncertainty about the adverse effects it could have, Toiv said. “The truth is we just don’t know what’s going to happen now,” Toiv said. “But it is something that we hope that anybody who hears about energy research that is funded by the Department of Energy will let Congress know these are cuts that don’t help our country.” For UT, these budget cuts would mean those working on research would have to compete more for limited funding. “When there is less money to compete for, the quality of the faculty, the quality of the proposals, the quality of ideas become the dominant factor,” Sanchez said. “We have a good track record in that area.” Laura Kuri, biochemistry senior and president of the Science Undergraduate Studies Research Group, said she thinks the cuts could hurt UT’s research capabilities. “UT is one of the most important research universities in the country,” Kuri said. “I think it’s really unfair because we provide a lot of insight and knowledge to the research world.” Although research institutions will lose a large portion of their funding, some are still not too concerned about this change. “[Research] is the number-one thing we’re known for,” said human biology sophomore Collin Johnson. “We’ve had our share of budget cuts in the past, and everybody knew it was going to keep coming, so we’ll just keep doing what we do, basically.”