AUSTIN – Acting on a unanimous recommendation by the Task Force on Blended and Online Learning and University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., the UT System Board of Regents today (Aug. 25) authorized up to $50 million investment to create a new Institute for Transformational Learning.
“This significant investment approved by the Board of Regents will allow the UT System to leapfrog our current efforts by providing critical financial resources to support a cyber infrastructure that will enable us to help the UT institutions expand their individual capabilities in blended and online learning,” Cigarroa said.
In 2006, the Board of Regents launched a $3 billion Competitiveness Initiative which significantly increased the System's science, technology, engineering and health physical infrastructure. The Competitiveness Initiative involved 44 facilities across UT System institutions, totaling about 5.9 million square feet of added or renovated space. By another measure, it added more than 41 percent of academic research space and two and a half times more clinical space than the UT System had in 2005.
“Now is the time to change the focus from bricks and mortar to computational power and blended and online learning, and the Institute for Transformational Learning will allow our individual institutions to build upon the momentum on the Competitiveness Initiative and augment student learning and outcomes,” Cigarroa added.
The Institute for Transformational Learning will have three goals:
The institute will accomplish these goals through a combination of competitive regental grants, matching funds and awards for leading innovators, as well as through public/private ventures. For UT institutions, departments and faculty that choose to participate, this competitive environment and rigorous selection process should incentivize each institution to create the very best blended and online courses available.
The UT System will launch a national search to hire an expert in blended and online learning to lead the institute to advise and assist in the individual campuses and explore the natural synergies between the programs developed at each institution.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Regent Wallace Hall, Vice Chairman Steve Hicks and other members of the Blended and Online Learning Task Force for recommending the creation of this institute, which I feel confident will propel the UT System and its institutions to greater excellence,” Cigarroa said.
The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $12.8 billion (FY 2011) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 211,000 in the 2010 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 68,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.