STARS are shining bright across the UT System

The University of Texas System’s one-of-a-kind program aimed at recruiting and retaining the highest level of academic and health faculty was in the spotlight at the UT Board of Regents meeting Thursday, as UT System leaders gave Regents an update on its impressive performance.

The Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention, or STARS, program has lured world-class faculty from around the nation from institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, Princeton and MIT. The Board of Regents has invested more than $100 million in the program, money that can be used to buy equipment and upgrade laboratory space, in addition to providing specific funding for a researcher’s study.

UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., said that elite professors and researchers – many times internationally-renowned in their respective fields – relocating to UT institutions are bringing with them hundreds of millions in research grants from the federal government. He noted that attracting these high-profile researchers not only increases the individual institution’s reputation, but those recruiting successes are highlighted when going after other top-flight researchers.

And students also benefit by being taught by leaders of their fields.

“The level of talent from whom these students are learning is a huge gift as well. The program has been a grand slam,” Cigarroa told Regents. “The program has been a huge recruitment strategy, and it has been very successful.”

Among a few of the STARS faculty highlighted were Bruce Beutler from UT Southwestern in Dallas, a 2011 Nobel Prize winner in physiology medicine, and Robert E. Dickinson at UT Austin, a world-renowned researcher and teacher in global climate change and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Since the inception of STARS in 2005, the six UT health institutions have recruited or retained 61 of the most highly sought-after faculty researchers in the country, whose findings have accounted for 50 patents and 30 more that are pending. These recruited faculty members also have brought $570 million in external research funding to their institutions, said Patricia Hurn, UT System’s vice chancellor for research and innovation.

Dale Klein, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs, said from 2005 to 2010, UT’s academic campuses have recruited or retained more than 130 faculty who obtained more than $580 million in external research awards, which account for more than 150 patents with almost 400 pending.

In addition, these faculty members have published more than 4,100 scientific publications. Most importantly, the funding has supported more than 2,300 graduate students and more than 400 post-doctoral students.

“I don’t know of any institution or system in the nation that has this caliber of a program,” Klein said.

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, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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