University of Texas System Chancellor Announces Two Leadership Appointments to Advance Academic Excellence

AUSTIN – Following the successful conclusion of two national searches to fill the positions of Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the newly created Executive Director of the Institute for Transformational Learning at The University of Texas System, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., announced the appointments of new leaders to each post today (Aug. 9).

Pedro Reyes, Ph. D., was appointed to serve as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. He has served in the System’s Office of Academic Affairs as associate vice chancellor for academic planning and assessment since 2003 and most recently as executive vice chancellor ad interim since the retirement of his predecessor in December, 2011. Reyes is an expert and well-published scholar and researcher in educational policy, student success, assessment and measurement. He has served on the University of Texas at Austin faculty since 1991 and continues to hold the university’s Ashbel Smith Professorship in Education Policy. He also served as associate dean of UT Austin’s graduate studies. Reyes completed his undergraduate and doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and post-doctoral work at the University of Michigan. His appointment is effective immediately.

“Upon conducting a national search and meeting with exceptional candidates, it was clear that we needed to look no further than our own organization to find the talent we were seeking,” UT System Chancellor Cigarroa, said. “Dr. Reyes is highly respected by the presidents of our nine academic institutions, and he has been instrumental in providing strategic leadership to the campuses as each works to launch new innovations to enhance student success and other critical initiatives. As Dr. Reyes is fully immersed in the implementation of the ‘Framework for Advancing Excellence Throughout the University of Texas System,’ we are in an excellent position to achieve many of the objectives without a break in stride. The Board of Regents and I were profoundly impressed with Dr. Reyes’ vision and leadership while he served as executive vice chancellor in an interim capacity, and we’re honored that he has now agreed to serve in this extremely important permanent role.”

Among many responsibilities of the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, Reyes will work closely with the chancellor and Board of Regents on matters of academic policy and strategic planning. He will also oversee the administrative activities of the nine academic presidents, approve university budgets, and evaluate tuition and fee proposals.

Cigarroa also announced the appointment of Steven Mintz, Ph.D. as the System’s first executive director of the Institute for Transformational Learning. In 2011, the Board of Regents allocated $50 million to the newly created Institute in order to establish UT institutions as world leaders in developing and implementing best-in-class resources for online learning; to expand access to educational programs to improve learning and reduce costs; and to promote a culture of educational innovation throughout the System. The funding also supports a cyber infrastructure to help UT institutions increase capabilities in blended and online learning.

Mintz, director of Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Teaching Center, is an acclaimed scholar in American history, having published 13 books and many scholarly papers. He has led Columbia’s efforts to improve the quality of teaching and was responsible for advancing the use of new media and digital technologies in the institution’s educational programs. A past president of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, he created the Digital History Website, named one of the Top Five U.S. history websites by Best of History Web Sites and included on the National Endowment for the Humanities list of exemplary online resources in the humanities. An accomplished fundraiser, Mintz, through awards of six U.S. Department of Education - Teaching American History grants, developed a multi-institution online training program for teachers in the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and East Texas. He completed his undergraduate work at Oberlin College and masters and doctoral degrees at Yale University. He has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a visiting scholar at Harvard, and visiting presidential scholar at Hofstra. He taught at the University of Houston from 1981 until 2007, where he was the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of History and Director of the American Cultures Program. His appointment is effective September 1, 2012.

Citing the appointments of Mintz and Reyes, Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents Gene Powell said, “We are proud to have as the Institute’s first executive director an accomplished scholar and innovator who determined long ago that students could enhance their learning experiences through the use of technology. We fully expect the UT System to become a national leader in understanding student learning and in developing customized, high-quality educational programs using technology to improve student outcomes through blended and online learning.”  Powell also praised the appointment of Reyes by adding, “The Regents and I were delighted with the Chancellor’s selection of Pedro Reyes as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. While working directly with him during his interim role, we witnessed firsthand his depth of expertise in higher education administration and policy, his commitment to student success and his excellent working relationship with the campuses. We watched him diligently assist the presidents in implementing the Chancellor’s Framework for Excellence and serve as a key role in the implementation of the MyEdu software. He possesses precisely the experience and skills that are essential for advancing the UT System.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities and six health science centers. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 215,000 in the 2011 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. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $13.1 billion (FY 2012) including $2.3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With roughly 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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