$30 million approved by Regent’s to help recruit nationally recognized faculty members

Van Nguyen

The Faculty Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention program received a $30 million budget to fund equipment in order to encourage faculty research.

The $30 million budget, which was approved by the Board of Regents, is split between all 14 UT System academic and health institutions. The goal of the program is to retain faculty who have offers elsewhere and to recruit new faculty members from other top-tier institutions. 

Since its inception in 2004, the UT System has invested $178 million into the program and has seen a return of $1.3 billion in external research funding.

Joan Brennecke, a chemical engineering professor at Notre Dame, is currently researching ionic liquids used in sustainable chemical processing and energy storage applications. She will be coming to UT next fall to do her research which will be funded partly by the STARs program.  As a UT alumna, she said that it will be exciting to come back to Texas after being away.

“It’s more than just the money to work on particular projects,” Brennecke said. “It’s the whole environment and colleagues and collaborators. There’s going to be a lot more interesting and new opportunities for my research because of the people at UT.”

Brennecke is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has won awards for her research from the American Chemical Society, U.S. Department of Energy and others.

“Recruitment and retention of faculty members is absolutely critical to the long-term viability of the Cockrell School,” said Sharon Wood, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “Over the past year, STARs has helped us recruit a new department chair in biomedical engineering, Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, as well as Tom Yankeelov, our first joint hire with the Dell Medical School.”

The STARs program fouses on attracting nationally renowned professors and professors who are rising in their fields, as well as retaining professors in engineering and computer science departments across the UT System.

Priority is given to the recruitment of nationally recognized individuals. These individuals must be a member of or in contention for election to national honorific societies such as the National Academy of Engineering or the Institute of Medicine. 

STARs funding is also given to promising faculty members who are on track to become nationally recognized. 

The program also aims to retain tenure-track faculty members in the engineering and computer science departments who have received offers elsewhere. 

“STARs remains a critically important program to attract world-class faculty to UT institutions and the Regents’ continued financial commitment demonstrates how deeply they believe in this initiative,” Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, executive director of media relations and external communications for the UT Systems, wrote in an email. “‘Winning the Talent War’ — a quest to bring world-class scholars, teachers and researchers to UT institutions — is one of Chancellor McRaven’s eight Quantum Leaps and the STARs program is a cornerstone of that initiative.”