Long(horn)-range plan

UT Austin seeks to hook status as ‘most impactful’ public research university

UT seeks to hook status as ‘most impactful’ public research university

University of Texas at Austin tower aerial
UT Austin announced a new 10-year initiative called "Change Starts Here." University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

The University of Texas at Austin has launched a 10-year initiative called “Change Starts Here” that’s aimed at making it the world’s “most impactful” public research university.

“Now is the time for our university to turn ‘What starts here changes the world’ from a statement into a call to action, as we set a bold but wholly achievable aspiration,” UT Austin President Jay Hartzell says in a news release.

As part of the initiative, UT Austin is developing a three-year diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) action plan that’ll be released this fall.

UT Austin — the flagship campus of the University of Texas System — has 52,000 students, and 20,000 faculty and staff members. It consistently ranks among the top public universities in the U.S. and the world, but Hartzell and others want to step up UT Austin’s stature.

Among other goals, the “Change Starts Here” initiative seeks to:

  • Lead the world in three broad research areas — technology and society, energy and environment, and health and wellbeing.
  • Serve more students and cover more of their financial needs.
  • Aggressively pursue outstanding, high-potential students, faculty, and staff.
  • Embrace and enrich the spirit of Austin and Texas.
  • Strengthen UT Austin’s leadership in health care, entrepreneurship and innovation, talent development, scholarship, and the arts.
  • Develop new degree programs.

“UT is the education, research, and health care engine of the most dynamic city in the most thriving state. Now, we have the chance to do even more to change lives, power social mobility, and solve great challenges by creating impact at a scale that few other universities can match,” Hartzell says. “We must audaciously elevate our ambitions while reinforcing our core commitment to UT’s mission and values.”

The U.S. has more than 260 public and private research universities. Aside from UT Austin, top-tier research universities in Texas are Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at San Antonio, the University of Texas at El Paso, Baylor University, and Rice University.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences says public research universities like UT Austin “serve a distinct and indispensable role in this educational landscape.”

“In addition to producing research and scholarship, public research universities provide economic development and technical assistance to their communities, states, and nation, as well as opportunities for anchor-institution collaborations,” the academy says. “While other institutions may address these needs individually, public research universities are charged with addressing them together as effectively, efficiently, and affordably as possible.”