Thank you for another successful year

Dear FAS colleagues,

En Español

As we approach the end of 2021, I want to thank all of you for your outstanding work keeping our university operating smoothly in the face of challenges while also advancing the university’s mission by embracing innovation and teamwork.  

Throughout the past year, you have consistently embodied our FAS shared values of diversity, innovation, integrity, service, stewardship and teamwork. From our unprecedented efforts in standing up a COVID-19 vaccine hub to our collective efforts in responding to the Winter Storm, our work in 2021 was like no other year in memory. If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to view some of the highlights of your accomplishments in the FAS 2021 Year In Review Appreciation Video.

Preparing for the future
This year, we made strides in our commitment to diversity. The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee was appointed, and by the fall semester members had developed and distributed a Learning Survey to all FAS staff. This is just the beginning of what we want to accomplish, and the survey will provide valuable information to move us forward in developing and implementing ways to promote a culture of inclusion, equity and diversity within FAS.

Other long-term, essential work for our future was launched this year as FAS leadership and team members began participating in university-level strategic planning efforts. This planning will focus on key challenges facing the university in areas of staff talent, procurement and IT. Each of these reflect our efforts to increasingly embed our shared values in how we do business every day. Expect to hear more about our strategic planning in the coming year.

Looking outward to the future of our campus community, FAS units also achieved important milestones in 2021 related to bringing more affordable housing for students. FAS units helped the university purchase Dobie Twenty21, which will allow the university to accommodate 1,700 students adjacent to campus, allowing more students to live where they learn.

FAS also identified and addressed student needs by opening a UTPD West Campus Office that will enhance safety and security for that area, largely populated by students. Groundbreakings for new buildings for the Office of Campus Safety and the Child Development Center also underscored how FAS puts our service vision into action.

Supporting our staff
In addition to the work of the EDI Committee, we have achieved other important milestones this year in support of staff in FAS. Establishing flexible work arrangements as a business strategy has enabled us to recruit and retain staff and to increase our productivity. Recognizing the importance of recruiting and retaining staff members in high-turnover positions, we implemented minimum wage increases for staff in targeted positions. These increases also acknowledged the outstanding work being performed by staff in those positions—many of whom have supported their teams by taking on additional duties when positions are vacated.

Vigilance against COVID-19
With the recent appearance of Omicron, another COVID-19 variant, many of you may be wondering what lies ahead for the university in the spring 2022 semester. A recent email from President Jay Hartzell emphasized that UT is closely monitoring this variant and maintaining communication with national, state and local public health authorities. President Hartzell pointed out that our campus has the tools to test, trace, treat and vaccinate against the virus, and we have practice in behaviors that help prevent the spread of the virus. In their Dec. 2, 2021, email to campus, UT’s leading health experts Drs. Terrance Hines and Amy Young  urged members of our community to do their part to contain the virus by following existing health guidance: get vaccinated, get tested, wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick. Guidance and tools will remain available to all of us on the university’s Protect Texas Together website. Updates about COVID-19 and any new variants of concern will appear in the Announcements section of the site.

The bottom line for each of us is to be vigilant for our own and others’ well-being by following available health and wellness guidance. Taking care of ourselves and each other will go a long way toward ensuring our individual and collective health and success in 2022.

Again, thank you all for your hard work this year and every year. Best wishes for you and your families and friends as we look toward a new year.
 

Regards,

Darrell Bazzell, signature

Darrell Bazzell (he/him/his)
Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
The University of Texas at Austin