Dear School of Architecture,
I write you today to share the news that I will be stepping down as dean effective next August 2023. These last five years have been an incredible journey, and I am so grateful to each and every one of you for the role you have played in building the amazing intellectual and professional community that we have in our corner of the world. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you, and I have learned so much from you.
I am proud of the many things we accomplished over the last several years, not least of which was how everyone at the school stepped up during COVID. We developed new methods of teaching and learning, we changed almost every aspect of our external relations, and we discovered new ways of interacting with and being in our environment. Most importantly, we stayed safe and healthy, demonstrating to the rest of the university and beyond how it could be and should be done.
Our school is in a solid place: our budget is balanced, our research continues to expand in exciting areas with several large federal grants, and our fundraising efforts have brought in new opportunities for student scholarships and program support.
While our student body has always represented the best and brightest of Texas, we can now say they represent the best and brightest of our country, and we have seen record numbers of applicants to our undergraduate programs, even during COVID. The quality of our graduates is renowned, and this year so many firms were clamoring to hire our students that we actually had more firms than students at our career fair.
Our faculty’s teaching and research is not only award-winning, but impactful; important aspects of our canon are being rewritten, our “boots on the ground” work with communities is expanding, and new initiatives addressing the methods for tackling the most serious questions facing our society today have become the core of what we teach, what we plan, and what we design.
And none of this would happen without our staff, who are the best at the university. They may not always be as visible as our faculty and students, but they are the fabric that weaves together everything we do. I owe so much to all of you.
I look forward to working with you over this next year as we further firm up our key objectives and prepare to transition to new leadership. This will be a great time to reflect on what we have done and what we need to do in this next chapter.
As for me, I will be sticking around after I step down as dean. Many of you know of my deep commitment to sustainability, and the recent IPCC report has made it clear that we can’t wait any longer to take aggressive action. Fifty years of sustainability initiatives addressing the built environment have not stemmed the stunning worldwide rise of emissions and other impacts related to our fields. While I came to UT five years ago with expertise in energy conversion systems and behaviors, I have learned so much from all of you about the broader urban and regional domains, and the impacts and influences far afield. It is time for me to pull it all together and do what I do best.
Thank you all for your warmth and kindness over the last five years. I love this incredible jewel of a school.
D. Michelle Addington
Henry M. Rockwell Chair in Architecture