Dean’s Welcome

Sharon Mosher, Dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences

Dear Alumni and Friends,

It’s been another incredibly busy and exciting year at the Jackson School of Geosciences, capped off by our new strategic plan, “Earth Transitions in Space and Time.” The far-reaching document was several years
in the making and includes input from throughout the school. It identifies the vision, objectives and priority areas for the school over the next 10 years in education, research, facilities and equity.

I encourage you to read the summary of the plan on page 106 and the full plan at The stories in this year’s Newsletter show the plan in action. The feature on page 68 about Leslie P. and Dianne White’s wonderful donation of a Central Texas ranch and the school’s plans to turn it into our first Texas Observatory is a great example. It embodies the type of interdisciplinary research and teaching we are pushing at the Jackson School to help understand and solve the major issues facing Texas and the world. The feature on page 58
about the research we conducted in the wake of Hurricane Harvey is another illustration of the type of research and education we are conducting to tackle issues that affect everyone.

The expertise and talent we have at the Jackson School is second to none. This was recently recognized nationally when the U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 edition of “Best Graduate Schools” named us the No. 1 Geology program in the country. You can read about the rankings on page 4. This is a tremendous accomplishment that took the combined efforts of the entire Jackson School community. We should all be very proud.

One reason we are constantly looking to hire the best is that we have to replace those who move on. This year, a number of talented researchers and faculty have decided to retire, topped by founding Dean Bill Fisher, who has spent nearly 60 years at the University of Texas. Bill has had an astounding career and a major impact on the geosciences at UT and far beyond. It is an honor to count him as a colleague and friend, and I encourage
you to read the story about his life and career on page 88.

We also said our final goodbye to a number of friends and colleagues this year. As you’ll see in the memorials section, the list includes people who helped make the Jackson School the special place it is — Professors Emeriti
Bob Folk, Milo Backus and Leonard Brown, as well as Ann Molineux, curator and collections manager at the Jackson School Museum of Earth History Non-vertebrate Paleontology collections. They will be dearly missed.

On a lighter note, as the cover of the Newsletter highlights, we are featuring specimens from across the Jackson
School’s collections in this issue. Sometimes we forget that our amazing collections are not just scientifically valuable, but beautiful and inspiring. I hope you enjoy the photospreads that begin on page 74.

Throughout the Newsletter, you will see nods to the fact that we have surpassed more than a century of teaching students in our signature field camps. I know many of you have fond memories of these camps, just as I do. We should all take pride in the fact that even as other schools are cutting back their field offerings, we continueto find more and more ways to get our students the hands-on field experiences that we all know are vital to training geoscientists. We couldn’t do so without your support.

Thank you, and enjoy the Newsletter!
Sharon Mosher, Dean

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