A Message from the President

September 2011

Dear Friends,

At UT Austin, we’re working every day to improve the student experience and our academic outcomes.

I have created a task force, which convened in July, to work on increasing our graduation rates. As I said in my May speech on the future of the public research university, raising our four-year graduation rate is one of the most effective ways we can lower costs for Texas families and increase capacity at UT.

This effort is consistent with Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s Framework for Advancing Excellence Action Plan, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Regents on August 25. The framework addresses student success, faculty productivity, higher education costs, and many other factors.

I want to call your attention to some related comparative data taken from a study conducted by UT Austin sociology professor and associate dean Marc Musick:

  • UT Austin’s six-year graduation rate of 81% is 13th out of 120 American public research universities.

  • We rank 10th out of those 120 universities in the percentage of students graduating for every taxpayer and tuition dollar received.

  • We are 2nd in the number of faculty employed for every taxpayer and tuition dollar received.

Based on these objective measures, UT Austin is near the top in efficiency among the nation’s public universities.

Of course, there is much room for improvement. Our four-year graduation rate of 53% is not good enough. Michigan and Berkeley graduate about 70% of their undergraduates in four years. We must identify and remove the obstacles to timely graduation at UT Austin.

Public research universities must be good stewards of the public trust — and public resources. I am committed to making UT Austin an even more efficient university.

Sincerely,

Bill Powers
President
The University of Texas at Austin