Division News

Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC)

MindBody Lab grand opening

Kevin Helgren (Student Government), Chris Brownson, Soncia Reagins-Lilly (VP for Student Affairs), Elana Bizer, Katy Redd, Binna Kim (Student Government), Laura Dannenmaier and Kelsey Lammy at the MindBody Lab grand opening

  • CMHC partnered with Student Government and University Unions to open a MindBody Lab in the Student Activity Center (SAC). The MindBody Lab is a self-paced environment designed to help UT Austin students explore various resources for improving their emotional and physical health.
  • Marian Trattner will graduate her second cohort of peer educators on Dec. 3. These 17 students are trained in resilience, stress management and coping skills so they can educate fellow students. This three-semester course is offered through the College of Natural Sciences and the School of Social Work.
  • Staff are continuing to share Thrive at UT with students, faculty and staff. Since its launch in February, the iPhone app has been a useful tool to enhance students’ well-being and many faculty are using it in their classes. Staff are encouraged to recommend the app during finals and the holiday season. Read more.

Housing and Food Service (DHFS)


  • Staff presented to 1,000 prospective students and guests at Texas Preview on Nov. 5, hosted by Texas Admissions. The occupancy management team highlighted the benefits of living on campus and gave information about the application process.
  • DHFS will celebrate the holiday season at the Staff Holiday Luncheon on Dec. 15. There will be staff and team awards, and a dessert contest.
  • Staff will launch a new Bevo Bucks logo in the spring semester, marking the first redesign in 15 years.
  • Staff and resident assistants (RAs) held the first Fall Festival on Nov. 11–13 in Jester Residence Hall. Students enjoyed face painting, tarot card readings and candy. Jester and Kinsolving teams collaborated on the program.

Food Service

Friendsgiving Dinner

John Dalton (Graduate School), Donna Bellinghausen (Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs), Rick Early, Hemlata Jhaveri and Tom Dison (Recreational Sports) enjoy Friendsgiving Dinner.

  • Staff hosted the Friendsgiving Dinner at J2 Dining and Kinsolving on Nov. 17 to bring the university community together before the holidays. The annual Thanksgiving celebration included roasted turkey, candied sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. See the photos.
Robert Mayberry at the FAST launch

Robert Mayberry at the FAST launch

  • FAST (Fresh And Simple Tastes) opened on Nov. 7 to give students with food allergies more dining options. The new buffet line in J2 Dining features dishes that are free from the top eight allergens and gluten.

New Student Services (NSS)

Staff welcoming OA Selection

Celena Mondie-Milner speaks to orientation advisor (OA) applicants at Selection Day.

  • NSS staff reviewed 120 applications for the orientation advisor (OA) position. Then, on Nov. 6, they hosted their annual Selection Day to interview all the candidates. Selections were made by Nov. 20.
Marian Trattner (right, Counseling and Mental Health Center) speaks to students about stress reduction at Transfer Tuesday on Nov. 15.

Marian Trattner (right, Counseling and Mental Health Center) speaks to students about stress reduction at Transfer Tuesday on Nov. 15.

  • Thanks to Counseling and Mental Health Center staff who presented at the final Transfer Tuesday of the semester on Nov. 15. This event gives transfer students an opportunity to learn more about the university.
  • NSS designed and coordinated the installation of new signage at the Transfer Experience Center at 2609 University Avenue.
  • NSS is busy preparing for Spring Orientation on Jan. 9, followed by Transition Week.
  • NSS is partnering with the Senate of College Councils for the second year in a row to host RISE 2017 on Jan. 20. RISE is a one-day summit for first-year students to reinforce the information and resources presented at orientation. Registration is now open.
NSS Staff pose for orientation

New Student Services staff at the fall retreat in the Texas Union’s Lone Star Room

  • NSS staff gathered for their fall retreat on Oct. 27 to discuss strategic priorities and goals for the upcoming year.
  • Horns Helping Horns hosted its fourth and final lunch seminar of the semester on Nov. 20. Seminars included presentations from Student Emergency Services and the Office of Financial Aid.

Office of the Dean of Students (DoS)

  • Student Emergency Services is raising awareness for the HornRaiser campaign which ends Dec. 15. Staff are raising money for the Student Emergency Fund.
Andel Fils-Aime (fourth from left) with academic partners

Andel Fils-Aime (fourth from left) with academic partners

  • Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Andel Fils-Aime held three workshops this semester to train new hearing officers. On Nov. 10 he trained seven representatives from the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Pharmacy, Dell Medical School, and the Schools of Nursing and Social Work.
Kia Hill, Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley and Robert Leary at the University of Houston

Kia Hill, Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley and Robert Leary at the University of Houston

  • Student Conduct and Academic Integrity staff met with colleagues from two other Texas schools to review their conduct process. They visited University of Houston and Texas A&M University last month.
CHANGE Institute 2016

Adalyn Berger, Alyssa Ray, Sara Kennedy, Katie O’Malley and Dave Dessauer at the CHANGE Institute

  • The Leadership and Ethics Institute hosted the CHANGE Institute on Nov. 11-12. The free conference develops student leaders’ understanding and confidence around diversity and social justice.
  • Student Veteran Services hosted a series of events during Veterans Week to celebrate student veterans. Events included a luncheon, wreath-laying ceremony and tailgate before the Nov. 12 football game. Read more.

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA)


  • Join us for the Staff Holiday Celebration on Dec. 8, 9–11 a.m., Texas Union Quadrangle Room. Read more about the event in Reflections from Soncia.
  • Mark your calendar for the Division-wide Staff Meeting on Jan. 25, 8:30–10:30 a.m, Texas Union Ballroom. Staff will celebrate the 19th Annual Texas Parents Staff Merit Award winners. Breakfast and refreshments will be served.
Teryl McFerrin and Maureen Brown at Thanks Day

Maureen Brown and Teryl McFerrin at Thanks Day

  • Staff participated in Thanks Day at Gregory Gym Plaza on Nov. 17 to thank donors for supporting Division programs. The development team will mail thank-you notes to donors that were written by students.
  • The Division participated in a benchmarking study conducted by Texas A&M University. The study examined diversity initiatives, policies and data collection efforts across the Division.
  • Director of Assessment Rita Thornton attended the Reinvention Center 2016 National Conference from Nov. 10–12. The conference focused on research-based initiatives that promote discovery, learning, diversity and culture.
  • Vice President for Student Affairs Soncia Reagins-Lilly attended the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting last month.
Division staff at Nov. 12 football game

Caitlin Absher (Office of the Dean of Students), Laura Garrard, Doug Garrard, Jaden Felix and Marilyn Russell (Office of the Dean of Students) and Maureen Brown at the stadium

  • Scott Noble, a long-time friend and donor to the Division, hosted staff at the football game against West Virginia on Nov. 12.

Recreational Sports (RecSports)

  • Program Coordinator Cecilia Lopez Cardenas directed a social media campaign called 100 Thank You’s for 100 Years. The campaign paid tribute to RecSports’ 100th anniversary and featured videos of students expressing gratitude for donors who support UT Austin. Check out the video.
Randall Ford, Hannah Covington and Chad Zimmerman display some of the canned goods donated for the #BeatHunger, #BeatAM food drive.

Randall Ford, Hannah Covington and Chad Zimmerman display some of the canned goods donated for the #BeatHunger, #BeatAM food drive.

  • Assistant Director Chad Zimmerman managed the annual UT Sport Clubs Canned Food Drive. UT Austin students challenged Texas A&M to see who could collect the most canned food in November. Proceeds donated on this campus will benefit the Central Texas Food Bank.
Lisa Sova, Joe Wise, Chris Burnett and Dixon Hankins tour the Whitaker Fields Complex.

Lisa Sova, Joe Wise, Chris Burnett and Dixon Hankins tour the Whitaker Fields Complex.

Texas Parents

  • Staff are encouraged to nominate a colleague for the 2016-17 Staff Merit Award. Nominations are open through Dec. 8. This award recognizes Division of Student Affairs employees who support student success, strengthen services provided by the Division and inspire fellow staff to seek excellence. Winners will be recognized at the Division-wide Staff Meeting. They receive a plaque and $1,500.
  • Thanks to Division Director of Assessment Rita Thornton for helping staff complete an assessment report for Family Orientation The feedback helps Texas Parents improve orientation programming and logistics.
  • Encourage new Longhorn parents and families to attend Spring Family Orientation. Registration closes Jan. 3. The free program introduces them to the university as well as resources and tools that will help them help their student successfully transition to UT Austin.

The Center for Students in Recovery (CSR)

John Harris with student and community participants DotDead

John Harris leads a workshop.

  • Staff celebrated Dia de los Muertos with food and music. John Harris led participants in a traditional-style Mexican sugar-skull decorating workshop. This event was well attended by students, staff and members of the UT Austin community. Check out the photos.
CMHC Staff pose for a photo

Sierra Castedo, John Harris and Lucas Hill (College of Pharmacy) at the Seminar on Addiction and Recovery

  • The College of Pharmacy’s Lucas Hill was the Seminar on Addiction and Recovery (SOAR) speaker on Nov. 10. He presented on Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
  • Staff partnered with the Counseling and Mental Health Center at the Happiness Intervention Fair on Nov. 9. This event is a venue for CMHC peer educators to present and receive feedback on student-led public health initiatives on the UT Austin campus.
  • CSR welcomed Voices Against Violence (VAV) interactive theatre specialist Amissa Miller and her students to present Get Sexy. Get Consent. Workshop on Nov. 15.
Sierra Castedo tabling for CSR

Sierra Castedo at Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus

  • Sierra Castedo represented CSR at the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus on Nov. 24. The event discussed the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program (DAAPP).
  • CSR celebrated the end of the semester with the annual Ugly Sweater Holiday Party on Nov. 29. Students, staff and friends wore their sweaters as they enjoyed food, music and games.

University Health Services (UHS)

Staff at ACHA tour

Devin Jopp and Lois Sarfo-Mesah (American College Health Association), Chris Brownson (Counseling and Mental Health Center), Jamie Shutter and Susan Hochman (University Health Services), Susan Ainsworth, PJ Crone and Lisa Pitrone (American College Health Association) at University Health Services

  • As chair of the American College Health Association (ACHA) Program Planning Committee, Assistant Director Susan Hochman led a planning meeting on Nov. 7. The organization’s annual meeting will be in Austin this spring. Hochman, Director Jamie Shutter and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Chris Brownson gave ACHA board members a tour of UHS after the meeting.
  • UHS is offering clinics on Saturdays so that students can satisfy their medical clearance requirements for study abroad programs.
  • Staff are preparing for a re-accreditation survey this spring. They are comparing UHS programs, facilities and services with standards published by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC).
Staff speaking during Bagels and Lox

Monique Cortez talks with a student at Bagels & Lox with Docs.

University Unions

Madrigal Dinner wide shot

Madrigal Dinner guests enjoy the show in the Texas Union Ballroom.

  • Campus Events + Entertainment hosted the 36th annual Madrigal Dinner Nov. 17-19 in the Texas Union Ballroom. Students, staff and alumni came together to celebrate this campus tradition. Take a look at the photos. Read more.
  • Staff have decked the halls in the Student Activity Center and Texas Union. They partnered with students from Campus Events + Entertainment to decorate the holiday trees for the university community to enjoy.
  • The University Unions sent eight staff members and 13 students to the regional Association of College Unions – International (ACUI) conference Nov. 4-6. Staff met with national colleagues to discuss trends in student unions.
Unions staff at ChillFest

Dylan Smith, Lisa Dela Cruz, Jennifer Zamora and Ruben Mercado at ChillFest

  • Campus Events + Entertainment hosted Chillfest on Nov. 30 to help students prepare for finals. The annual event features massages, therapy animals and other activities.
  • Finals Fest has been rebranded and expanded. Staff are hosting a variety of events to support students through finals week. Events include the traditional midnight breakfast, yoga and free coffee. Check out the Events section to see the list.
  • Staff provided free popcorn and candy at the first Campus E+E movie screening in the new Texas Union Theater on Nov. 3. The space now houses a state-of-the-art 4K Projector, new movie screen and a Dolby surround sound audio system.