Division News

The Division is mourning the death of Les Lilly, Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly’s husband, who passed away on Jan. 21. Hundreds of people including many from the campus community attended a celebration of his life on Jan. 30. Gifts in his memory can be made to the Leslie Kyle Lilly Neighborhood Longhorns Program Scholarship. Les joined the Division of Diversity of Community Engagement as volunteer coordinator in the Neighborhood Longhorns Program in September 2015. Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for Soncia and her family.

Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC)

Kelsey Lammy speaks to students during Student Government's Story Night.

Kelsey Lammy speaks to students during Student Government’s Share Your Story.

  • CMHC partnered with Student Government for their storytelling initiative Share Your Story on Jan. 23 about mental health.
  • Staff are partnering with the Office of the Dean of Students and Title IX on the Interpersonal Violence Peer Support (IVPS) program. Students will be trained to speak with their peers who have experienced sexual assault, relationship violence, sexual harassment and/or stalking. The IVPS student team will be able to provide resources and support survivors of violence. Applications open Feb. 1. This program will launch in fall 2017.
  • CMHC partnered with University Health Services to host Organizational Day on Jan. 11 and 12. Dell Medical School’s Rene Salazar spoke to staff about unconscious bias. CMHC staff members Aki Imai, Kim Burdine, Sebastián Colon-Otero and Joey Hannah partnered with the Gender and Sexuality Center to present “Toward an Inclusive Campus with Transgender & Gender Nonconforming Students & Staff.”
  • Staff are recruiting students to speak at the Texas Health Monologues on April 11. Students will work with CMHC staff to create their own stories in this first-annual storytelling event.
Janet Bensman retirement party

Janet Bensman (left) with former CMHC Associate Director Jane Bost and Jamie Shutter (University Health Services)

  • Staff celebrated Janet Bensman who retired after 22+ years of serving students.

Housing and Food Service (DHFS)


  • The Residence Life Professional Development, Training and Recognition Committee, in collaboration with Apartment Life, hosted Team Day 2017 on Jan. 6. The day-long retreat promoted team work, inspired staff and provided leadership training.
Rachel Cohen-Ford and Cynthia Lew at the International Student Orientation

Rachel Cohen-Ford and Cynthia Lew at the International Student Orientation

  • Rachel Cohen-Ford and Cynthia Lew shared information with new students about Bevo Bucks at international student orientation on Jan. 6.

(back row) Rene Rodriguez, Hemlata Jhaveri, Tom Dison (Recreational Sports), Mylon Kirksy, Nicholas Vasquez, Marvin Thomas, Jr., Gloria Allen, Edna Dominquez (Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs); (front row) Paul Mannie III, Jacquelyn Hawkins and Rene Gonzalez

  • Staff celebrated Almetris Marsh Duren at Almetris Duren Hall: 10 Years Later on Jan. 21. The highlight of this event was a panel discussion by Jacquelyn Hawkins, Renè Gonzalez and Paul Mannie who shared personal stories about Duren and how her contributions influenced campus life. The hall opened in 2007.
  • Don Ates and Justin Samuel attended the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Mid-Level Management Institute. The program helps staff strengthen their leadership skills.

Food Service

  • In an effort to better serve students, staff have implemented the Eco2Go program in Jester and Kinsolving dining halls. This new initiative allows greater flexibility, convenience and value. Eco2Go containers are eco-friendly and reusable. (logo attached)
  • UT Farm Stand returns this semester. The popular farmers market will be at a new location at Gregory Gym Plaza on Feb. 23. Check out the Events section for details.
XXX during safety training

Reyna Rivera douses a fire during safety training.

  • Staff participated in 26 different safety training workshops that included emergency preparedness, allergen training and food safety training (held in both English and Spanish).

New Student Services (NSS)


New Student Services staff at Spring Orientation

  • New Student Services (NSS) hosted Spring Orientation on Jan. 9 for more than 500 transfer and freshman students.
  • Many Longhorns took part in the third annual Transition Week 10–13. Staff host this series of events to welcome new students to campus and help them adjust to life on the Forty Acres. NSS partnered with RecSports, University Unions, UT Athletics and other campus partners to make the week a success.
  • Staff partnered with Senate of College Counsels to host RISE 2017 on Jan. 20. RISE stands for Reflect, Inspire, Surpass, Emerge. This one-day summit helps first-year students get the tools they need to succeed. See the photos
  • Staff hosted a leadership training for returning orientation advisors on Jan. 12–13. They also kicked off a semester-long peer leadership course for orientation advisors on Jan. 17.

Office of the Dean of Students (DoS)

  • Staff can get involved in the Leadership and Ethics Institute Texas Leadership Summit by hosting a breakout session. Guided by a mission rooted in ethical and socially-responsible leadership practices, the Texas Leadership Summit relies on the unique expertise and diverse perspectives of our university community to deliver content for conference participants. Student registration is open until Feb. 3. You can contact Katie O’Malley for more information.
Staff participate in threat assessment training.

Staff participate in threat assessment training.

  • Student Emergency Services, the University of Texas Police Department and Human Resources collaborated on a threat assessment training Jan. 11–12. This training provided tools for operating the Behavior Concerns Advice Line (BCAL) and strategies for behavior intervention teams. The workshop also discussed relationship violence risk factors.
  • Staff manage and support a variety of awards to recognize excellence. Encourage students to apply by 20.
  • Another exciting recognition for students is the Swing Out Awards. Student Activities staff are now accepting applications. The awards highlight excellence among student organizations. Applications are due Feb. 28. Student organizations must have distinguished status in Pillars of the Forty Acres to be eligible.

Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs (VPSA)

Past and present Staff Merit Award recipients

Past and present Staff Merit Award recipients

  • Staff kicked off the semester at the Division-wide Staff Meeting on Jan. 25. They recognized this year’s Texas Parents Staff Merit Award winners. Learn about the winners in Texas Parents’ Division News section below. Check out the photos.
Eric Stoutner (Recreational Sports) and Celena Mondie-Milner (New Student Services) at the Division-wide Staff Meeting

Eric Stoutner (Recreational Sports) and Celena Mondie-Milner (New Student Services) at the Division-wide Staff Meeting

  • Also at the meeting, Celena Mondie-Milner, New Student Services, and Eric Stoutner, Recreational Sports, announced the Let Us Know initiative. Staff received an email survey following the meeting. Please respond to the survey by Feb. 17. View the presentation.
  • VPSA rolled out the Division’s Strategic Plan Third Year Progress Report. Thanks to the departments’ assessment teams for producing the report.
Sara Kennedy (Office of the Dean of students), Beth Waldman (Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost), Nick Persac and Desere Cross (University Communications), Charlie Moore (Financial and Administrative Services), Cynthia Lew (Housing and Food Service), Sarah Hill (Financial and Administrative Services)

Sara Kennedy (Office of the Dean of Students), Beth Waldman (Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost), Whitney Adams (Counseling and Mental Health Center), Nick Persac and Desere’ Cross (University Communications), Charlie Moore (Financial and Administrative Services), Cynthia Lew (Housing and Food Service) and Sarah Hill (Financial and Administrative Services) at Snapchat Session

  • VPSA hosted a professional development program about Snapchat on Jan. 19 for communicators and social media managers. University Communications shared best practices to tell compelling stories. See the photos.
  • The Division of Student Affairs participated in a benchmarking study with Texas A&M University called “Division of Student Affairs 2016 University Diversity Plan Accountability Report.” The report shares initiatives within A&M’s division as well as UT Austin, Pennsylvania State University and University of Florida.
  • Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly met with the Vice President for Development Scott Rabinold and other development officers on Jan. 20. Dr. Lilly shared Division updates and talked about our innovative programs, facilities and services.

Recreational Sports (RecSports)


Historical display in the Gregory Gym Concourse

  • RecSports’ Centennial Celebration historical display in Gregory Gym has been updated to spotlight the history of its facilities, including Gregory Gym, the Recreational Sports Center and Caven Lacrosse and Sports Center at Clark Field. Stop by for a walk down memory lane.


  • Assistant Director Cecilia Lopez Cardenas invites everyone to register for this year’s Longhorn Run set for April 8. Proceeds will benefit the Excellence Funds for Student Government and Recreational Sports.


  • Assistant Director Chrystina Wyatt is spearheading the 20th Annual TexFit Conference being hosted by Recreational Sports on Feb. 11 at the Recreational Sports Center. As many as 400 fitness staff from collegiate programs in Texas and surrounding states will attend.
  • Assistant Director Chad Zimmerman is heading a committee to plan National Intramural & Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Recreational Sports & Fitness Day, a free campus-wide event to be held Feb. 22 from 2–5 p.m. on the Gregory Gym Concourse. RecSports is joining in a nationwide effort to encourage the campus community to pursue a healthy lifestyle through recreational sports.

Texas Parents

Staff Merit Award winners

2016-17 Staff Merit Award recipients LT Robinson (Housing and Food Service), Morgane Le Marchand (Texas Parents) and Courtney Howard (Housing and Food Service)


  • Staff are encouraged to nominate seniors for the 2016-17 Outstanding Student Award by Feb. 6. This award is given to one male and one female student who demonstrate exceptional leadership, scholarship, character and service.
Mike Wacker Award

Former Longhorn Imani Boyette (center) with Texas Parents members Sandra and Farris Blount

  • Nominations are also open until Feb. 6 for the 2016-17 Mike Wacker Award. This award recognizes a senior student who exemplifies personal sacrifice, dedication, esteem, conviction and faith.
  • The spring 2017 Texas Parents Brick Paver Campaign encourages parents to make a gift while honoring their students with a brick paver laid at the Student Services Building (SSB). The deadline to order is Feb. 17.
  • Applications for the Family Orientation Student Leader (FOSL) and Membership Recruitment Student Leader (MRSL) positions will be open Feb. 13-March 3. These student employees help Texas Parents staff welcome new Longhorn families during Family Orientation.

The Center for Students in Recovery (CSR)

  • CSR will continue the Seminar on Addiction and Recovery (SOAR) series this semester. Dr. Jeremy Goldfarb from the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work will speak on Feb. 22. He will discuss substance use in different youth groups.

University Health Services (UHS)

  • The Health Promotion Resource Center has adopted a new name: UHS Office of Health Promotion. The office’s mission is to create “data-driven programs, policies and environments to promote UT Austin students’ health and academic success.” Professional staff conduct primary prevention and research, mentor peer educators, and engage in a broad range of activities intended to help students stay healthy.

Lucy Lemeilleur douses a fire during Safety Day.

  • Staff took part in Safety Day, an annual event that provides training on security and safety. They learned about managing computer passwords and handling workplace chemicals. See the photos.
  • UHS partnered with CMHC for educational sessions and lunch during the Organizational Day on Jan. 12. Staff heard presentations on unconscious bias and inclusive spaces for all students. Check out the photos.

Krista Doabler, Debbie Riggs, Cherylyn Murray, Arleen Elliott, Tina Koger, Dian Peavey, Cynthia Roussel-Peterson and Joanna Pormprasong at UHS

  • The Urgent Care nursing staff conducted a food drive for the food pantry located near campus.

Chris Brenner, Jessica Garcia, De-Keita Peoples, Karen Eckert and Corey Mladenka compete in the Marshmallow Challenge.

  • As part of a retreat, UHS Lab and Radiology staff took the Marshmallow Challenge. They divided into two groups and competed to see who could build the taller structure using 20 strands of spaghetti, one yard of string, one yard of masking tape and a marshmallow.

University Unions

President Fenves at Unions

President Gregory Fenves (left) and Mulu Ferede speak with a student.

  • The University Unions Board of Directors welcomed President Fenves to the first meeting of the spring semester. He spoke to members about his vision for the university.
  • The University Unions is currently accepting applications from food truck vendors to serve the campus during events. Departments can request that food trucks located on the Speedway Mall near the Student Activity Center serve students during their events.
  • Staff are encouraged to nominate students for the J.J. “Jake” Pickle Citizenship Award and the Pal—Make a Difference Award. Students must show exemplary leadership or service. Read about last year’s Pickle and Pal
  • In an effort to provide more seating options for students at the Student Activity Center, staff have added more tables and chairs inside and on the patio.