The University of Texas at Austin
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History

The idea for a Dean of Undergraduate Studies emerged early in the discussions of the Task Force on Curricular Reform at The University of Texas at Austin in 2004-05, under the leadership of William Powers, then Dean of the Law School. Most members of the Task Force felt that curriculum reform in core areas must be an ongoing, dynamic process, responsive to the rapidly changing needs of students, as well as to changes in departmental requirements. They also recognized that changes of the scope they envisioned might require years to implement.

Accordingly, a subcommittee of the Task Force recommended the foundation of a new unit, led by a dean who would have the care and maintenance of the core curriculum as his or her main mission.

At the same time, the Task Force recognized the need for central leadership over a number of existing undergraduate programs and a home for undeclared students. The Task Force recommended that the new unit be set up with faculty oversight and that it be closely coordinated with existing colleges and schools.

A committee of deans, under the leadership of then Dean Steven Leslie of Pharmacy (now Executive Vice President and Provost), met during the spring and summer of 2006 and agreed that such a unit was indeed needed and recommended that it be guided by a committee composed equally of senior faculty and associate deans. Concurrently, the Faculty Council Educational Policy Committee met to consider the curricular proposals of the Task Force, recommending Faculty Council approval in the fall of 2006. The motion of the Educational Policy Committee was circulated to the entire faculty and finally passed on December 8, 2006.

President Powers appointed Paul Woodruff as the inaugural dean effective September 1, 2006. The Executive Committee of the Faculty Council seconded the Leslie Committee’s plan for the unit’s governance, and the Undergraduate Studies Advisory Committee was convened in November 2006.

The School of Undergraduate Studies became an official college-level unit reporting directly to the Executive Vice President & Provost when the necessary approvals were received from The University of Texas System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in May 2008.

By the time of the publication of the 2008-2010 Undergraduate Catalog in August 2008, the first round of revisions to the core curriculum had been adopted by the faculty, and degree programs in the School of Architecture, Red McCombs School of Business, College of Communication, College of Education, Jackson School of Geosciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Natural Sciences, and School of Nursing had been reformed to incorporate the revised core, including the new Signature Courses.

By the time of the publication of the 2010-2012 Undergraduate Catalog, the core had been further revised to include, among other things, new science and technology course offerings, a number of course flags in important curricular areas, and an optional strand of great books courses running through the core areas. With the publication of this Catalog, degree programs in the Cockrell School of Engineering, College of Fine Arts, College of Pharmacy, and School of Social Work were brought into compliance with the core curriculum, making the reformed core available to all UT Austin students. Because all degree programs now reference the university-wide core curriculum directly, all future reforms to the core will automatically be implemented in each of UT Austin’s undergraduate degree programs.

The School of Undergraduate Studies admitted its first cohort of approximately 800 undeclared students in fall 2009 and continues to offer advising and other services to students enrolled in Undergraduate Studies and across the university.