Dr. David Troutman – Part of Quantum Leaps’ Team of Teams

David Troutman promotion Quantum Leaps Associate Vice Chancellor

Dr. David Troutman

Dr. David Troutman has been promoted to Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Decision Support

The former Director of the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI), Dr. David Troutman, was promoted to Associate Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research and Decision Support earlier this year. Still part of OSI, David’s new role will focus primarily on research in support of the Chancellor’s Vision and Quantum Leaps and other collaborative research initiatives.

This position, and others, are part of Chancellor Bill McRaven’s plan to create a team of talented and diverse members – known as a Team of Teams – to implement his Vision and Quantum Leaps that will tackle the big challenges facing our state and nation.  The Quantum Leaps initiatives will enhance the University of Texas System’s ability to provide the very best in higher education, research, and healthcare to the citizens of Texas.

There are eight Quantum Leaps

1. The Texas Prospect Initiative
2. The American Leadership Program
3. Win the Talent War
4. Enhancing Fairness and Opportunity
5. The UT Health Care Enterprise
6. Leading the Brain Health Revolution
7. The UT Network of National Security
8. UT System Expansion in Houston

Team of Teams

In order to achieve the goals of Quantum Leaps, McRaven is creating a network of specialists who can find quicker answers to problems. Rather than using hierarchy and rigid command, the Chancellor has chosen a structure that engenders creativity, boldness, and teamwork through communication and collaboration. Known as a Team of Teams, this extensive network will tap expertise across diverse sectors, with each individual adding value to the enterprise.

Troutman is part of this Team of Teams. He will provide a dedicated resource for data and analytics for the Quantum Leaps leads, including vice chancellors and system and campus personnel associated with the initiatives. He will provide research and decision support focused on trend analysis and thought leadership to identify emerging issues and key institutional needs. These efforts are expected to broaden and deepen the capabilities of UT System’s institutional research (IR) offices. Troutman will also partner and collaborate with senior university leaders to transform data into information in support of university decision-making.

Congratulations are in order for Dr. David Troutman, but each one of us, in our own inimitable way, is an integral part of the Team of Teams here at UT System. We are charged with the task of shaping the future, not only of the great state of Texas, but for our entire nation. This strategic plan will go a long way in establishing a solid foundation for our continuing efforts to enhance UT’s legacy.

Marked for Prominence – Ankita Agarwal Is the Newest Member of OSI

Ankita Agarwal New Hire UT System OSI

Ankita Agarwal


Our most recent newcomer to the University of Texas System’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) is Ankita Agarwal. Serving as Director of Finance and Business Analytics, Ankita supervises the business intelligence and information technology teams within OSI, and is responsible for finance analytics for UT System.

Ankita has more than 12 years of experience in banking, high-tech, and education industries, having held senior leadership and management positions in corporate finance. Most recently, Ankita led the shared services, strategic procurement, and finance projects for the North American region for Wincor Nixdorf. Prior to that, she was the chief financial officer for the commercial segment at PNC Financial Services, where she was responsible for forecasting, performance analytics, and strategic planning for a $9 billion commercial loan portfolio.

The name Ankita (pronounced un-kee-tha) is a Sanskrit word meaning “marked for prominence,” which is appropriately descriptive given Ankita’s Agarwal’s impressive education and experience. She is a Forté Foundation Fellow and holds a Financial Risk Manager (FRM) certification. She earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from the UT Austin McCombs School of Business, a Master of Science in biomedical engineering from the University of Southern California, and a Bachelor degree in chemical engineering.

OSI welcomes Ankita Agarwal.

Quantum Leap and the Future Will Appear – Donna Thomas Joins OSI




In February of this year, Donna Thomas joined the University of Texas System’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) as the Director of System Project Management. She will be establishing a project management office (PMO) to manage the Quantum Leaps introduced in November 2015 by UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven as part of his strategic plan. The eight initiatives are aimed at providing the citizens of Texas the very best in higher education, research, and healthcare.

Prior to joining UT System, Donna served as vice president for the PMO at Lumeris, a top-rated, value-based care-managed services provider. She collaborated with senior leadership to establish priorities, allocate resources, and provide ongoing updates on mission-critical initiatives. Before that, she served as Lumeris’ senior program manager for technology and development.

Additionally, Donna has held project management positions at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Dell, among other top technology companies. She is an experienced curriculum developer, instructional designer, and trainer, and has delivered guest lectures on “Estimating Effort and Project Costs” to academic audiences.

Donna earned a BBA in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. She has lived in Austin for 35 years, and enjoys golfing and skiing with her husband Jeff. Donna also spends a lot of family time with her daughter Carrie, son Robert and his wife Lauren, and most importantly her cherished grandchildren Nolen and Averie.

With less than two months on the job, Donna rolled up her sleeves alongside OSI staff to help host UT System’s first-national conference Vertex 2016 – At the Intersection of Higher Education and the Workforce.

Vertex 2016 Conference and Cruise – It’s Here!

Vertex Conference

Click here to read more about Vertex 2016

If I were to tell you that planning a national conference is not an incredibly difficult undertaking, don’t believe me. It is a daunting task – especially when you have never done it before. Having experienced a year-long preparation for Vertex 2016 – At the Intersection of Higher Education and the Workforce – I now have a newfound respect for event planners, who, in my estimation, are worth their weight in gold.

And yet, without the aid of highly-trained professionals in the world of event planning, The University of Texas System’s Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) is poised to launch its inaugural conference series, commencing Monday, April 18-19, in Austin, Texas. The OSI team has pulled together a roster of top notch speakers recognized across the country for their expertise in higher education, private industry, non-profit, and government sectors. Nearly 200 Vertex participants will experience presentations, panels, and showcases by more than 40 industry leaders who will open a dialogue about the challenging issues currently affecting our academic institutions and students, and the impact these challenges have, not only on the academic and professional careers of students, but also on the local, state, and national economies – here in Texas and across the nation.

To fully appreciate Vertex as we know it today, you must understand a little more about its inception.

Vertex Higher Education Conference UT SystemThe Conference Name Says It All

Up until now, there have been conferences that discuss higher education, and conferences that discuss the workforce; but this first-ever Vertex Conference is breaking new ground by combining the two topics. With the question, “Is College Worth It?” being bandied about by media – who harp on whether there is a return on investment (ROI) for college degrees – UT System took the bull by the horns (Texas reference intended) to address what academic institutions need to do in order to make sure students’ skills keep up with our changing, global economy – ensuring the workforce of America that yes, a college education is definitely an investment with a payoff. For this to happen, higher education and private industry must engage in an ongoing dialogue.

That pretty much explains why the name Vertex was chosen – because the word “vertex” literally means the point where two or more lines meet. Higher education is one line, the workforce another, and they are converging here in Austin, Texas, starting tomorrow.

Mind you, there were other names in the running, such as Connexion360, UTSummit, EDTX, UTforward, among others, but Vertex survived, having been conceived on January 15, 2015, in an office overlooking Guadalupe and 5th Street in downtown Austin, Texas. With a 15-month gestation period, Vertex National Forum on Higher Education will be born tomorrow at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Barton Springs Road.

UT System Vertex 2016Lions and Tigers and Logistics Oh My!

Everything about planning this conference was more or less unknown and a tad scary, except for finding and securing an agenda of presentations and venerable speakers. Compared to the planning and logistics needed for a national conference, finding higher education, government, non-profit, and private industry leaders who want to discuss the issues at hand was comparatively easy. What turned out to be more difficult was deciding on a location, scheduling, branding, promotional items, and signage. That’s because we are the inaugural conference in a series of Vertex conferences, and we have a responsibility to lay the foundation for future events.

This year, OSI is hosting Vertex. In the future, conferences will be hosted by various UT System offices, which, based on each one’s area of expertise, will continue this national forum to discuss solutions, from their perspective, to some of the most challenging issues in higher education.

Behind the Scenes

With the help of the OSI Communications team, including two graphic designers, the Vertex logos and branding were created. Following that, communications materials – including, but not limited to, online and printed fliers, mastheads, banners, kiosks, window clings (we nicknamed them “cling-ons”), tablecloths, table runners, invitations, advertisements, labels, promotional items, programs, maps, name tags, and other items – were designed and produced.

Weekly meetings with our project manager, communications team, administrative staff, and management helped us stay the course. Teleconferences and emails with our speakers and panels allowed us to amass the many bios, headshots, abstracts, and online presentations that are included in the program and will be made available throughout and even after the event. Social media played a huge roll in pulling together a panel of top-notch private industry leaders, as well as spreading the word about a conference named Vertex that has never existed before. Constant updates were made to our conference website to stay current with incoming information and registration.

Vertex 2016 UT SystemHours were spent behind the scenes ensuring that our attendees (nearly 200 of them) would have a pleasant, educational/informational, and memorable experience – prompting them to return to the next Vertex forum, as well as recommend it to colleagues. Room blocks were secured at the Hyatt Regency for visitors, hotel spaces were scheduled for presentations and receptions, breakfast and lunch menus selected, meetings with AV reps were conducted to discuss our media needs, wranglers appointed to move attendees to and from sessions, announcers lined up, opening and closing remarks written, stages and lecterns selected, parking accommodations made, conference packets assembled and put into conference bags along with branded promotional items. That’s just a short list.

Last week found OSI a beehive of activity and excitement. Everyone from the office pulled together to tie up loose ends – from stuffing packets, to hooking name tags to lanyards, loading boxes into vehicles, receiving banners and signage, and . . . watching the weather reports. Last Wednesday, the fly landed in the ointment when local meteorologists started announcing doomsday forecasts for heavy rains, high winds, possible tornadoes, flooding, and hail, all starting on Sunday night and running through the week of the conference. We kept waiting to hear about a locust infestation, but it appears we will be spared that horror.

Creating a Memorable Conference

So, here we are on the eve of Vertex 2016, the University of Texas System’s first-ever national forum on higher education, with everything ready to go for a stellar event, not really certain how Nature will play its hand, nor how it will impact our well-planned event. Let’s suffice it to say, this is Texas, and we are hearty stock. We’re used to rain and a lot more, and we even sing soulfully about it. There is no doubt in my mind that Vertex 2016 will be a complete and total success. In fact, it may even become known as the unofficial Stevie Ray Vaughan National Forum on Higher Education. Our theme song? It’s Floodin’ Down in Texas, of course!

See y’all at the Vertex 2016 Conference and Cruise, coming to a boatslip near you April 18-19.

Richard the Bruce – Famous Warrior and New Administrative Coordinator for OSI

February 1, 2016 1 comment
Richard Bruce & Wally

Richard Bruce & Wally

During his reign, Richard the Bruce, and his faithful sidekick Wally, fought successfully to regain Austin’s place as an independent nation, and is today remembered as a national hero . . .Oops! Wrong era, wrong “Bruce,” and wrong story. 

The real story is about Richard Bruce joining the ranks as the Administrative Coordinator at UT System’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. With 15 years of experience in higher education, Richard arrived at OSI most recently from UT Austin where he was an event and conference planner for the College of Liberal Arts.

Prior to UT, Richard coordinated the Psychology Department, one of the largest academic departments at Humboldt State University (HSU), and served as the coordinator for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. He received a master’s degree in English from HSU and a few years later completed a Master of Public Administration program at California State University, San Bernardino, which, with careful planning, he took entirely online.

Having driven from the northwestern-most reaches of California (“It’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from here!”) to Austin this past spring, he’s exploring the Austin area, with special attention given to new places to eat. When he’s not out eating, he’s thinking about the next thing to bake (cheesecakes are his specialty), not learning to play the guitar now for the third year in a row, reading, and/or feeding the birds while his pug Wally snores at his side.

OSI welcomes Richard Bruce.

Easier to Get than Adele Tickets – Vertex Conference 2016

December 21, 2015 2 comments

Vertex Conference Higher Education Wordforce Data


Can’t get tickets to Adele? Don’t let it get you down because the next best thing is available – tickets to the inaugural Vertex Conference 2016. Scheduled for April 18 and 19, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Vertex is a two-day national forum for higher education sponsored by the University of Texas System.

The Vertex Conference 2016 theme – At the Intersection of Higher Education and the Workforce – will focus on strategies for accessing and using student employment data. Unless you have been living in a vacuum, you know that affordability and the value of an investment in education are critical topics that higher education must address at multiple levels. The Vertex Conference focuses on how to use data to provide real, quantitative-based answers to questions about affordability, as well as offers ideas about using technology to create tools for students and families.

Guest speakers from universities, community colleges, federal and state agencies, and organizations across the country will discuss this subject and other important issues, in venues ranging from highly technical data workshops to moderated discussions on the broader policy implications of this data.

Vertex Conference

Click here to read more about Vertex 2016

Some of the topics slated for discussion include:

• New and innovative ways to access available data and resources
• How to use workforce data to inform policy and advise students
• Overcoming obstacles and limitations of data
• FERPA / privacy regulations
• How to demonstrate your institution’s value added
• The impact of higher education on workforce supply and demand

In addition to the speakers, conference attendees will have the opportunity to interact with leaders from 2-year and 4-year colleges; institutional researchers, policy analysts, career services and financial aid advisers; government/agency representatives; economic development advisers; and communications professionals.

Click here http://www.cvent.com/d/1fqnjg to find out how you can secure your tickets for Vertex 2016.

UT System Initiatives – Ingenuity, Originality, Creativity, Enterprise

December 2, 2015 Leave a comment

UT System Initiatives

The Influuent Website Likes To

IˈniSHēˌāt  the ˈPäzədiv*

When it comes to laying out a bold and sweeping path for UT System’s 14 academic and medical institutions, it takes a lot of ingenuity, originality, creativity, and enterprise to make it happen. In November, Chancellor William McRaven unveiled his “quantum leaps” to make UT System a public higher education system of global influence.

Around the same time, UT System announced some of its transformational research initiatives. With a strong emphasis on connecting minds, advancing research, and encouraging creativity, the Influuent website now includes a section under Resources that provides a description of each initiative in greater detail. These initiatives leverage UT System’s existing strengths, combined with strategic investments, to make quantum leaps in research and healthcare.  Influuent makes these system-wide research initiatives and the faculty behind them more accessible.

UT System Cyber Security Cloud Security InitiativeCyber & Cloud Security Initiative

As cloud and mobile computing technologies expand their IT landscapes, the public and private sectors are subject to increased cyber-attacks, precipitating the application of plans and technologies that will let them rapidly detect and react to threats. The newest generation of security professionals, CIOs, and government leaders will bear the burden of protecting an organization’s infrastructure, and will be held accountable for security lapses. Security is more than just patching holes, so network gatekeepers need not only to keep up with trends, but to think beyond the present threat, as well. To meet current needs and expand future capabilities in cybersecurity, this initiative works on four fronts:

  • education and training,
  • research and applied technology,
  • industry outreach, and
  • network and infrastructure.

UT System Manufacturing LogisticsManufacturing Logistics & Sustainment


UT System recognizes the importance of ensuring that Texas has a globally competitive and innovative manufacturing sector. This proposed initiative promotes the connection of experts across UT System campuses with industrial partners both within Texas and beyond its borders, ultimately attracting investment, promoting innovation, expanding markets, and creating jobs in Texas. It has two major components:

  • Identify and exploit emerging opportunities in the design and use of innovative materials and processing technologies
  • Design, develop and deploy a net-centric “industrial Internet” infrastructure across Texas to learn how to support distributed production, reduce the technology gaps between OEMs and suppliers, and fundamentally transform post-production logistics and sustainment

How will it do this? “By enabling a tighter integration between research and application, education and training and by mapping academic activities to specific economic and educational needs.”

UT System Military Health Biosecurity InitiativeMilitary Health & Biosecurity

This initiative focuses on the health of our nation’s military service members, veterans, and their families through collaborative education, research, and clinical care. It includes developing and evaluating the most effective early interventions for detecting, preventing, diagnosing, and treating combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other service-related conditions. Additionally, UT System is focusing on biosecurity research areas that include bio-containment, vaccine development, infectious genomics, infectious virus analysis, rapid field assessment, and biological and digital threat surveillance and assessment, to name a few.

UT System FreshAIR Initiative

Texas FreshAIR

The FreshAIR initiative is committed to developing the biotech ecosystem in Texas by promoting strong partnerships and consortium-like structures among industry, UT System faculty, and other Texas university systems. Its various venues bring together entrepreneurs and innovators, including UT System faculty, industry experts, venture capitalists, and executives from the country’s top pharmaceutical and device companies.



*Translation: Initiate the Positive


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