AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved an action plan recommended by UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. , that will take productivity and excellence initiatives to a higher level across the 15 campuses and System Administration.
Chancellor Cigarroa presented a “Framework for Advancing Excellence throughout The University of Texas System” at the May Board of Regents’ meeting. The action plan translates the framework into nine focus areas and will assure the effective implementation and comprehensive measurement of the initiatives and related metrics.
“I firmly believe the framework action plan presented by Chancellor Cigarroa aligns the efforts of the institutions, System Administration and the Board of Regents and charts a clear path toward providing UT institutions the most cost-efficient means for producing graduates, while at the same time, increasing the quality of education for our students across the UT System,” Regents’ Chairman Gene Powell  said.
“Universities across the nation are facing major challenges. In the global arena, we are encountering serious competition from other nations, which are now offering comparable higher education opportunities and innovative, cutting-edge research. And at home, we’re facing a demand for more accessible, accountable, and affordable education in a world where terabytes of information can be transferred instantly to all corners of the globe and students are comfortable within these portals of communication that challenge traditional classrooms and pedagogy,” Chancellor Cigarroa said.
“Our traditional revenue streams will not sustain current models of educating undergraduate, graduate and professional students. We must change how we teach future generations of students and how we operate our academic and health institutions, and I believe the framework action plan accomplishes these goals,” Cigarroa added.
The action plan also incorporates the recommendations of the Task Force on Productivity and Excellence and the Task Force on Blended and Online Learning. The special task forces were formed in February by Chairman Powell.
“The task forces, System leadership and the 15 presidents have worked tirelessly and made significant progress over the past several months on many of the major issues,” Chancellor Cigarroa said. “We must focus and redouble our efforts in the spirit of continuous improvement and advance a culture of innovation and positive change across the University of Texas System and its institutions.”
The action plan’s nine focus areas are:
1. Undergraduate Student Access and Success
2. Faculty, Administrators and Staff Excellence
4. Productivity and Efficiency
5. Strategic Information Technology Infrastructure Investments
6. Enhancing Philanthropic Success
7. Ph.D. Programs
8. The Health of Texas
9. Expanding educational and health opportunities in South Texas
The details of the framework action plan are available online .
In approving the action plan, the Board of Regents also committed $243.6 million for projects within the framework targeted at enhancing student outcomes and excellence across the 15 institutions and System Administration. The investments include:
- Up to $50 million for a new Institute of Transformational Learning aimed at using technology to implement innovative education delivery models with the goal of improving learning outcomes and providing more options for students to complete their degrees on time;
- $30 million for the South Texas / Lower Rio Grande Valley Plan, a long-term vision for the Lower Rio Grande Valley and South Texas increasing educational and health care initiatives in this historically underserved region of Texas;
- $10 million to establish the UT Horizon Fund, an evergreen venture fund that will provide resources for high quality prospects with potentially strong commercial application at UT institutions;
- $10 million for the Productivity and Excellence Framework, an investment that will support many of the new action items you heard about in the Framework Action Plan, including the establishment of a dashboard  – aimed at becoming a national model – which will allow the UT System to take real time snapshots of productivity measures across the system;
- $9 million for the Strength in Numbers program whose goal is to strategically build infrastructure, skills, programs and personnel to increase and sustain philanthropic support among the UT institutions; and
- $14 million to expand the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards to include eligible faculty at both the academic and health institutions.
The Board of Regents committed $75 million of additional Permanent University Funds for the Engineering Education and Research Center at UT Austin, subject to a one-for-one gift matching requirement.
The Board of Regents also authorized three recommendations for campus support: $15 million for HR/Finance software support at seven academic institutions; $17.6 million to fund Information Technology assessments; and $13 million to reimburse the UT Health Science Center – San Antonio for the acquisition of the Cancer Therapy Research Center.
“Texas finds itself at the epicenter of the national debate on the future of higher education. I believe no university system is better poised than The University of Texas System to lead the debate and offer solutions to benefit our students, faculty and staff,” Cigarroa said.
About The University of Texas System
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.