Welcome to Advancing Excellence, from Dean Claudia Mora

Mora HeadshotDear Jackson School Friends,

Greetings from the Forty Acres! As we prepare to kick off another academic year here in Austin, I find myself filled with appreciation and gratitude for the generous support you have shown our beloved Jackson School of Geosciences. The past academic year was filled with some truly remarkable activity.

We welcomed students back to campus, which allowed them to immerse themselves in our important, groundbreaking science and research. I traveled around the country from Denver to Portland, Houston to New Orleans, Austin to Midland and beyond. Being on the road again meant I got to spend meaningful time with many of you, which was refreshing and energizing for me and my team. We successfully launched the public phase of the What Starts Here campaign for the Jackson School and welcomed hundreds of you back to campus for meetings and events. And all of this happened before we even made it to graduation in May! It was wonderful to be back together to celebrate our outstanding students with their families and friends. It felt good to be back to (almost) normal.

We still spent plenty of time navigating the issues the pandemic has caused, but thanks to the ingenuity and diligence of our faculty, researchers, students, and staff, we have weathered the storm. As we look to the fall, I can’t help but share the exciting news that 70 freshman students joined us for new student orientation, which translates to one of the largest freshman cohorts in years. And how could I go this long without mentioning that we remain the No. 1 geology program* in the country! We also rose from seventh to fourth in geophysics and seismology, while also being ranked 4th in paleontology (which was previously unranked). It’s thanks to donors and alumni like you that we continue to excel and push the boundaries of science, allowing the school the opportunity to recruit and retain the best and brightest students, faculty, research scientists and staff!

In this issue of Advancing Excellence, you’ll hear first from our now not-so-new Chief Development Officer, Andrew West, about our record-breaking fundraising year and our ambitious vision. You’ll also learn about a prestigious award from the Keck Foundation supporting our own Dr. Ginny Catania’s work in Greenland. There is an exciting feature on the impact of individual philanthropy, highlighting a recent gift from Terry and Elliott Pew. And we have a section devoted to our What Starts Here campaign that details key initiatives we are focused on to prepare our students for successful careers where they will create, innovate and lead.

Our job here at the Jackson School is to prepare the next generation of Longhorn geoscientists: to provide them with the skills, resources and instruction that will help them do what we do best here at UT — change the world! Please visit us on campus soon and thank you for all that you do!

Hook ‘em!
Mora Signature

Claudia Mora, Dean