AUSTIN, Texas—The John A. and Katherine Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin should be consolidated as a separate unit at the level of a college, President Larry R. Faulkner proposed today (April 30).
The creation of the school would require that the Department of Geological Sciences and the Institute for Geophysics be transferred from the College of Natural Sciences and that the Bureau of Economic Geology be transferred from the portfolio of the vice president for research.
Faulkner’s announcement follows completion of a report by the Jackson School Vision Committee, chaired by Dr. Peter Flawn, a former president of the university. The committee of distinguished external advisers in the geological sciences provided advice on use of the financial resources given by John A. and Katherine Jackson of Dallas that were dedicated to the earth and environment.
Approval of the plan proposed by Faulkner is required at several levels, including the Regents of The University of Texas System and the Commissioner of Higher Education.
Faulkner said a new dean, who would be selected through a national search process, would report to Executive Vice President and Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson.
“This is a time for invention and new thinking about the sciences of the earth and how they are developed, taught, and practiced,” Faulkner said. “I believe that the creation of a new school led by a dean will promote what is needed more effectively than any other organizational option.”
Faulkner said creation of the campus-level school is justified by the extraordinary opportunity facing the university and by the unusual combination of units encompassed by the Jackson School.
The John A. and Katherine Jackson School of Geosciences was created in 2001 as a part of the College of Natural Sciences. The school resulted from a $25 million endowment funded by John Jackson, a 1940 geology graduate. John A. Jackson also bequeathed the remainder of his estate, valued at about $232 million, to the Jackson School for geosciences research and education.
The school has about 137 faculty and senior scientists, 170 undergraduate majors and 164 graduate degree candidates taking courses in the Department of Geological Sciences. The school consists of the department on the main campus and two research units focused on earth sciences: the Bureau of Economic Geology and the Institute for Geophysics.
The department is one of the most diverse and highly ranked geosciences departments nationally. It is housed in the John A. and Katherine Jackson Geological Sciences Building along with the Geology Foundation, which funds Jackson School research and educational initiatives. The department’s expertise in sedimentary geology, hydrogeology and other areas will be greatly enhanced as a result of resources that have become available through Jackson’s bequest.
The same is true of research and educational activities of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the Pickle Research Campus. The bureau serves as an educational and informational resource for academic, industrial, governmental and non-profit agencies. The bureau also conducts research on natural resources as a part of long-standing relationships with these entities.
The Institute for Geophysics on Spicewood Springs Road also will benefit from the funding as a leading academic research group in geophysics. The institute conducts global geophysics research, often as part of multi-institutional studies focused on scientific ocean drilling.
Faulkner said a Jackson Endowment Advisory Committee will be created to advise the Jackson School dean on specific requests and general strategy.
Faulkner, the provost and the vice president for research will jointly appoint a Jackson School Implementation Committee to carry development through the point where the Jackson School comes officially into being. They plan to establish this group before May 10.
For more information contact: Robert D. Meckel, 512-475-7847, or Don Hale, 512-475-6869, Office of Public Affairs.