Teacher's Pet

Brene Brown dares to lead students at UT Austin as visiting professor

Brene Brown dares to lead students at UT Austin as visiting professor

Brene Brown
That's Professor Brown to you. Photo by Randal Ford

It seems Brene Brown just can't stay away from Austin. Soon after it was announced that the acclaimed author, speaker, and researcher — and UT Austin alumna — would deliver the university's keynote commencement speech at this year's graduation, as well as appear at SXSW 2020, she will also join the UT staff as a visiting professor.

Brown will become a visiting professor of management at the McCombs School of Business, launching a new leadership training program centered around courage, trust, and vulnerability. These actionable strategies are based on the principles she lays out in her most recent No. 1 New York Times bestselling book, Dare to Lead, and UT will be the first university to adopt Brown's program as an institutional initiative.

"We're thrilled that Brene is bringing her extraordinary leadership and scholarship back to The University of Texas — where her academic career began," says UT president Gregory L. Fenves. "Dare to Lead will empower individuals throughout our university community to lead with their values and make bold choices to further UT's mission to educate and serve."

As a program, Dare to Lead is the culmination of a seven-year study looking at the future of leadership and the barriers and obstacles to developing braver leaders and more courageous cultures. It draws on interviews with 150 global leaders, program evaluations from Brown’s courage-building programs, data from her leadership study, and instruments developed and tested with MBA students from top U.S. business schools.

Brown is currently a research professor at the University of Houston, and earned her bachelor's in social work from UT Austin in 1995.

"Texas McCombs and Brene are a perfect fit," says McCombs dean Jay Hartzell. "Our curriculum is oriented to prepare leaders for increasingly dynamic and rapidly changing environments, and our Center for Leadership and Ethics fuels our efforts via powerful research. As she rolls out her program at the university, the opportunity for new collaborative research efforts with her faculty colleagues here at the business school is tremendous."

Besides Dare to Lead, Brown is the author of four other No. 1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness. Her 2010 "The Power of Vulnerability" is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks of all time, with more than 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed talk on Netflix; The Call to Courage debuted on the streaming service in 2019.

"As we think about increasing our research efforts with Dare to Lead and building more tools for teams and organizations to use as they embed courage-building skills across their cultures, I can't think of a better partner than Texas McCombs," said Brown in a release. "They're smart, innovative, and already doing important work in this area. I'm also a diehard Longhorn."