Introduction

The creation of The University of Texas was mandated by the Texas Constitution of 1876, which called for the establishment of “a university of the first class.”

This mandate has inspired The University’s proud pursuit of excellence since its inception.
Today, The University of Texas is an institution that has earned respect as a leading university. It also makes contributions of significant value to the state of Texas and its citizens. Still, it is not yet among the handful of finest universities in this country, and there is more that it could do for the public it serves.

The core purpose and core values of The University of Texas are:

Core purpose

To transform lives for the benefit of society.

Core values

Learning – a caring community, all of us students, helping one another grow.
Discovery – expanding knowledge and human understanding.
Freedom – to seek the truth and express it.
Leadership – the will to excel with integrity and the spirit that nothing is impossible.
Individual opportunity – many options, diverse people and ideas, one university.
Responsibility – to serve as a catalyst for positive change in Texas and beyond.

The constitutional mandate and the core purpose and values informed the work of the Commission of 125, a group of citizens appointed in 2002 by Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas. The Commission was convened for the purposes of reinvigorating UT’s aspirations for the next 25 years, determining what must occur to achieve them, and recommending a course of action. Eight committees studied and debated a broad range of issues, and their recommendations became the basis of this report.

Integral to each recommendation is the conviction that The University should pursue excellence passionately and rigorously. Its future operational decisions, at every level, must adhere to the goal of being “first-in-class.” Those in leadership positions throughout UT must be accountable for the performance of their area of responsibility. The University needs the best faculty, the best students, the best research capability, the most enthusiastic and supportive alumni, and the best administration and organizational structure to deliver excellence.

As part of its work, the Commission also adopted a vision statement for The University:

The University of Texas will be the best in the world at creating a disciplined culture of excellence that generates intellectual excitement, transforms lives, and develops leaders. The University of Texas will define for the 21st century what it means to be a university of the first class.

The vision statement introduces the phrase “a disciplined culture of excellence.” This phrase evokes both the history and the future of the institution. The seal of

The University states, “Disciplina Praesidium Civitatis,” a Latin rendering of the words of Mirabeau B. Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas: “cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy.”

A disciplined culture of excellence means excellence in all University endeavors, characterized by strong leadership and an engaged intellectual community, combined with individual and institutional accountability.

In order to create this disciplined culture of excellence, the Commission establishes two strategic initiatives. These two initiatives, which require complex, difficult, and yet crucial structural changes to The University of Texas, are explained in detail in Part One of this report. Part Two of the report covers sixteen recommendations necessary to support and maintain a disciplined culture of excellence, especially in regard to the daily operations of The University. It also proposes how The University of Texas can better serve both the state of Texas and the world.

The University of Texas has evolved into one of the major public universities in the United States. The University celebrates its status as a public institution and the resulting responsibility it bears. Today, many challenges face academic institutions of higher learning—funding, access, shifting demographics, and the need to adapt to a rapidly changing world. These challenges present both obstacles and opportunities, and they require creative solutions. The Commission of 125 firmly believes that The University of Texas can best serve society by fulfilling its aspiration to be the best public university.

Kenneth M. Jastrow, II
Chairman, The Commission of 125
September 30, 2004