BoV Chair Randy Henry
BoV Chair's Message: Transition and a Record of Accomplishment
By now most of you have heard about the untimely resignation of Steve Bickerstaff. I was looking forward to serving under Steve for the next two years to better learn the responsibilities and duties of the Board Chair. I am saddened by the health issues that Steve is facing and I wish him the best healing result possible. I will be happy to step back to Vice Chair if Steve recovers and wishes to return. With that aside, I am excited and enthusiastic about moving into the Board Chair position and I am confident that I can do my part to help us grow and prosper.
Prior to Steve becoming chairman he sent an email letter to all members outlining his intended policies and priorities. I agreed with Steve and gave him my full support as Vice-Chairman. Progress has been made in several of those objectives. For example, we were able to preserve an acceptable level of state funding during the last cost-cutting legislative session, Paul Teten is moving ahead nicely with his initiative to increase planned giving, and the University of Texas Board of Regents favorably received our letter endorsing the value of research while preserving that objective in its latest resolution. Correspondence has been sent to all BoV members who are behind on paying fees with strong encouragement to bring those accounts current in fairness to all of those who are current.
The BoV Executive Committee met on December 3, 2011, in Austin. Wayne and Barbara Alexander of San Antonio, who had been elected co-Secretaries in July 2011, having agreed to become co-Vice Chairs, were elected by the Executive Committee. Guillermo "Memo" Benavides of Laredo, who joined the Executive Committee in early 2011, was elected Secretary. Memo's change opened a position on the Executive Committee, and Dr. Larry Reaves of Fort Worth was elected to fill it.
The Executive Committee also discussed the finances of the BoV, which are in good shape, and which have been playing a major role in fulfilling the BoV's mission of supporting the Department of Astronomy and the Observatory.
BoV Budget Fund income from member gifts and meeting-expense payments has risen from $197,247 in fiscal year 2006-07 to $248,975 in fiscal year 2010-11 (which ended in August, 2011). During that time, the combined excellence and discretionary funds made available in the budget to the Observatory Director and the Department Chair have grown substantially, from $42,165 in 2006-07 to 166,868 in 2010-11. Over the past four years, those funds have made possible the biennial "Bash Fest" Postdoctoral Symposium, the Texas Undergraduate Research Symposium, and numerous meetings, conferences, and events that have strengthened the department and observatory, and they are even more important now with The University of Texas at Austin facing exceptional budget constraints.
I think that the Board of Visitors can feel proud of the ongoing support provided from annual gifts, and of the impact this support produces.