Gregory L. Fenves standing in front of buildings

Meet Emory’s Next President


Gregory L. Fenves has been president of The University of Texas (UT) at Austin since 2015. He served there for 12 years, first as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering, then as provost and finally as president.

Fenves has made an enormous impact on UT Austin. Under his leadership, the university recruited world-class faculty while retaining an impressive network of current faculty, extensively broadened cross-disciplinary research and significantly increased extramural research funding. As president of one of the largest doctoral-granting universities in the nation, Fenves has strengthened graduate education and resources, and 48 graduate programs at the university are now ranked in the top 10 nationally.

Fenves’ goal throughout his tenure has been to unlock the full potential of students and improve student success at UT Austin and beyond graduation. In his years as president, Fenves helped raise the university’s retention and four-year graduation rates to record levels by spearheading innovative student-success programs and increasing resources for students.

Working with the UT System Board of Regents and through astute management of generous philanthropic gifts, he made substantial new financial commitments that covered tuition and fees for students from low- and middle-income families and wrap-around support services for Pell Grant students. He also worked closely with state leaders in Texas to increase financial support for the university.

A core priority for Fenves has been diversity and inclusion among the UT Austin community, beginning with the successful defense of the use of race and ethnicity as a factor in admission decisions in the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. That landmark decision upheld the educational benefits of diversity in higher education. A comprehensive diversity-and-inclusion action plan has guided the university in regard to faculty, students and the community.

Fenves also created numerous initiatives that focused on experiential learning, including the President’s Award for Global Learning, which funds opportunities for students and faculty to make a difference around the world. He is deeply and directly engaged with students, hosting monthly lunches and meeting regularly with student leaders to discuss student concerns and the campus climate, and working with them to develop policies to improve student life.

Among many other accomplishments, he played a central role in UT Austin’s being the first top-tier university in almost 50 years to build an academic medical center from the ground up with the founding of the Dell Medical School, which has become a key partner for communities throughout Austin.

Fenves grew up in central Illinois and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and both a master’s degree and PhD from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, all in civil engineering. Fenves began his academic career as an assistant professor in UT Austin’s civil engineering department in 1984. In 1988 he went back to UC Berkeley, where he was on the faculty for 20 years and became an internationally renowned expert on structural engineering for earthquakes. Fenves was chair of UC Berkeley’s preeminent department of civil and environmental engineering, which is still ranked number one in the nation. He returned to UT Austin in 2008 to become dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering, ranked among the top 10 engineering schools in the U.S. Subsequent to his highly successful tenure as dean, Fenves was recruited to the position of provost at UT Austin and in 2015, after a national search, was appointed president.

For his groundbreaking research in earthquake engineering and academic leadership, Fenves was elected in 2014 to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest recognition for an engineer in the United States. He has received numerous national awards, including the Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation, the Walter L. Huber Research Prize, the Moisseiff Award and the J. James R. Croes Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Fenves is married to Carmel Martinez Fenves, a textile artist and former small business owner. Born in San Francisco, California, Mrs. Fenves is a first-generation graduate of the University of California, Davis. Carmel and Greg Fenves have two adult daughters, a son-in-law and one granddaughter, all of whom live in Austin. Fenves’ father, Steven J. Fenves, is a widely recognized, retired engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. His father and mother, Norma, live outside Washington, D.C. Peter Fenves, his brother, is a professor of literature at Northwestern University, and his two sisters are professionals living in the Northeast. Fenves enjoys reading, traveling with his family and visiting art museums.

Learn More About President-elect Fenves