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September 2018

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Milliken Takes Over as Chancellor beginning Sept. 17

On September 17, James B. (J.B.) Milliken will officially become the UT System’s 12th chancellor. But many staff members may already have seen him in the building as Milliken has been serving for weeks as chancellor-designate. In that role, he has begun learning more about the UT System and upcoming opportunities and issues.

“Chancellor-Designate Milliken has worked in practically every facet of higher education administration for large, dynamic university systems in three states,” Chairman Sara Martinez Tucker said after the unanimous vote to approve his appointment. “In each case, our regents were impressed with his ability to develop a strategic vision, garner support for it, and then implement it with positive, measurable results. The regents were also particularly interested in his innovations in the areas of student success and access.”

Milliken has spent more than 30 years in higher education with extensive leadership experience at major public university systems in three states, including most recently as chancellor of City University of New York (CUNY), a system of 24 institutions; president of the University of Nebraska (NU), a four-campus system; and as a senior vice president at the University of North Carolina (UNC), a 16-campus system, where he led strategy and economic development, federal and state relations and university advancement.

After leaving the role of CUNY chancellor, Milliken was looking forward to life as a professor but said he could not pass up the opportunity to lead the UT System.

“The UT System has an extraordinary opportunity and responsibility to prepare Texas to lead nationally and globally,” Milliken said. “I’ve been very impressed by the optimism and confidence of the leadership of UT’s academic and health institutions, and I’m looking forward to working closely with them on efforts to advance their vital missions in education, research and health care.”

Milliken’s wife, Nana Smith, is a graduate of Yale University and the New York University School of Law. Her parents were from Texas and she said she is looking forward to moving closer to extended family. The couple have three adult children who they say are eager to visit Austin.  Additional information on the chairman-designate is posted online.

With the new chancellor about to take the reins, Larry Faulkner will end his time as chancellor ad interim on September 15. During the August board meeting, Dr. Faulkner was honored for his service, with Chairman Tucker recognizing the significant role he played in developing the partnership with the U.S. Army and other important decisions. In addition to her thanks on behalf of the regents, UT staff members--many of whom worked with him while he served as president of UT Austin--praised Dr. Faulkner for his collegial approach and leadership in successfully addressing critical issues and advancing initiatives.


Building Reminders and Adjustments

A year after moving in, it’s easy to become complacent about some of the efforts that can help make working in the UT System Building more comfortable, efficient and safe. Please help us commemorate the building’s one-year anniversary by considering the following reminders and updates.

  • Make sure your employee ID badge is on you and always visible. If you see someone without a visitor or employee badge, ask them if they need assistance or notify the guards.
  • The posted speed in the garage is 5 mph. Taking it slow makes it safer for both pedestrians and vehicles. Stay to the right and use the garage mirrors to avoid other vehicles coming around the corners.
  • Specific parking spaces have been designated for longer vehicles, sedans and compact cars, as well as energy-efficient vehicles. Park in appropriate spaces accordingly and make sure to display your hang tag.
  • Put rinsed dishes, glasses and flatware in the dishwasher after use so they are clean and available for others.  Please do not put dishes into a dishwasher after it has been started, even if you know it has been recently started.  It requires a manual restart if you do so.
  • Quiet rooms and phone rooms are available if you need additional privacy.  Mother’s rooms are for that purpose only—contact Sherri Prince if you need the key punch code to a mother’s room.

System Administration is a constantly changing environment and after a year in the new building, much is being learned about how the space can best be used. Accordingly, a space reallocation study has been conducted to determine how UT can more efficiently use the building. Staff will be notified once the final recommendations are accepted later this month. Moves and, if necessary, construction to consolidate and maximize space will then be conducted in phases over the next several months.

Additional information and helpful tips are available in the Welcome Manual provided upon move-in. If you have a maintenance or facilities need, ask your department contact to create a work order. For technology issues, email


OGC Keeps UT Legal with Dedication and Understanding

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) operates as the UT System’s in-house law firm, providing legal advice and support for the 14 institutions and System Administration.

“In many ways—except our billing rates—we are a typical law firm,” laughed Dan Sharphorn, vice chancellor and general counsel. “We give daily legal advice on a wide variety of topics, we provide training so our clients know how to follow the law and respect others’ legal rights, we help our clients put together business and real estate deals, and we help our clients file and defend lawsuits.”

But OGC also has responsibilities that are very different from those of a corporate law firm, including providing legal advice regarding tenure and faculty matters, managing the systemwide medical/dental malpractice insurance plan, administering the Systemwide insurance plan for employment liabilities, collecting delinquent debts, advising police departments, and overseeing outside law firms called in to assist with specialized issues.

“When you’re the in-house law firm for a $20 billion academic and health enterprise, you end up having a hand in many interesting projects,” Dan noted.

In recent years, those projects have included launching UT Rio Grande Valley, which involved closing two institutions and opening a new one; helping UT Medical Branch recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ike; forming a 10-hospital health system with UT Health Northeast and a corporate partner; handling free speech questions as protestors headed toward a campus; and purchasing, selling and leasing real estate to help accommodate the growth of UT institutions. 

OGC’s attorneys recognize that to provide the most effective legal assistance, they first must understand the unique culture and policies of each UT institution, as well as the many legal jurisdictions in which their clients operate.

“We make it our business to personally visit, know and appreciate every single one of our institutions, and to understand their unique characteristics and sensibilities – which can and do change over time,” said Omar Syed, associate vice chancellor and deputy general counsel.

“And really, those visits help us give better advice. After all, it tells you something about the campus community when you visit the full-scale model of Stonehenge that’s at UT Permian Basin, or watch hundreds of students walk through the architecture of Bhutan to attend their first classes of a semester at UTEP,” he added.

Whatever the legal issue, OGC’s team members see their primary job as helping the UT institutions fulfill their academic, research and health care missions.

“Whenever we give legal advice, we do it to serve those missions because, above all else, they are our clients’ interests,” Omar stated.

“We are lucky to have a group of genuinely dedicated and selfless attorneys, real estate professionals and administrative staff who take pride in helping our institutions do what they do,” Dan commented. “They make it their job to own the problem and celebrate our clients’ successes, and to realize that our clients’ failures are ours if we did not do all we could to help them succeed.

“Incidentally, many of our staff had different careers before joining OGC: right now, we’ve got a couple of people who were architects, a NASA systems engineer, a theater director, an ordained minister, a park ranger, a grant writer, a management consultant, a small business owner, a research scientist, a legislative aide, a clinical psychologist and several veterans of the armed forces,” he added. “Now, they share a common dedication to providing legal advice powered by hard work, common sense and cultural sensitivity.”


Be an “Everyday Hero” during SECC’s 25th Anniversary

This year, the State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) marks its 25th year of Texans helping Texans through workplace giving. The 25th anniversary campaign, which runs October 1-31, provides an opportunity for State of Texas employees to be an “Everyday Hero” within their local communities.

The Staff Council will kick off the campaign with a pancake breakfast on October 3, beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Commons. Representatives from Capital Area Charities will be available to answer questions at the Pancake Breakfast and also at an Ice Cream Social scheduled for October 17 between 2 and 3 p.m. The SECC will wrap up with the annual Halloween Spooktacular on October 31 from noon to 2 p.m.

The SECC supports charitable organizations that provide a wide range of services within the Central Texas community. Last year’s Capital Area SECC raised nearly $2 million for local charities. Beginning October 1, System Administration staff can elect to make a one-time donation or payroll deductions to support the charity of their choice through the UT System Online Giving Portal.

For more information, contact a Staff Council representative.


Stay in the Know about UT

If you want to stay up-to-date about the latest developments happening throughout the UT System, be sure to subscribe to the “Daily News Report.” The daily email provides links to highlighted media stories involving UT institutions and the UT System. You can also elect to receive the news releases sent by System Administration. Just send a request to be added to either or both lists to And get social with the UT System as well—follow @utsystem on Twitter and like the UT System page on Facebook.