Beginning my new role as dean for the University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences, I'm humbled by and grateful for all the support that many of you have extended already in the run-up to my arrival in Austin. As I continue to learn about this remarkable place, meeting more of you and hearing your perspectives and insights will be crucial.
Already I have had the chance to see how the College of Natural Sciences is a place where a zest for discovery is fueled by creativity and an abiding commitment to reason. I've thought of places like this—top-tier institutions with the public's support behind them—as some of the world's most exciting places for many years, at least since that moment in 1978 when, as a first-generation university student, I set foot on a college campus for the first time.
My move to UT comes at a critical moment for science and mathematics, for higher education, and for this extraordinary institution. In the year ahead, I'll be working alongside you to ensure that we're recruiting and retaining leaders in a dozen diverse fields, we're advancing in our capabilities as a college, we're effectively and meaningfully making the case to supporters and the public about the value of the work we do, and that we're enabling our students to equip themselves splendidly for the world they'll enter after leaving this campus. Here are some ways I'm getting to work on this already with members of the dean's office:
- fostering highly adventurous research activities, communities, and partnerships
- attracting outstanding undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows
- appointing and developing superb faculty and staff
- ensuring inclusive excellence and inspirational instruction
- creating new educational opportunities and revenue streams
- celebrating our accomplishments across UT and beyond
- defining our priorities for development
- and communicating consistently with you.
On this first day, and every day, I shall think carefully about how to make the greatest contribution and the most meaningful difference—for our scientists and mathematicians, our students, our staff, our alumni, and the wider world, which shares such a great stake in our vital mission. My partnership with all of you willbe essential for every advance we make. Together, we have a terrific opportunity to embrace what physicist Richard Feynman called "the greatest adventure that the human mind has ever begun."
Thank you for your commitment to this college, to celebrating the beauty and impact of science and mathematics, and to lifting up new generations as they, too, come to embrace the power found where creativity meets reason.