Button to scroll to the top of the page.

The College of Natural Sciences was formed in 1970 when the College of Arts & Sciences was split into the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences. The move was controversial, and then dean John Silber of the Arts & Sciences was fired by Regent Frank Erwin. (Read “John Silber Gets the Last Word” in The Alcalde for more on that story.) Since that time, the College of Natural Sciences has gone on to become one of the largest and most productive colleges of science in the nation.


1883 – Formal opening of The University of Texas at Austin
1884 - Departments of Chemistry and Physics established
1915 - UT confers first PhD (Carl Gottfried Hartman, Zoology)
1925 – Biology Laboratory building completed
1931 - Chemistry building (now Welch Hall) completed
1933 – Physics building (now Painter Hall) completed
1933 - Geology building (now W.C. Hogg/CNS Dean's Office) completed
1933 – Home Economics building (now Gearing Hall/School of Human Ecology) completed
1939 – First telescope at the McDonald Observatory
1941 – Marine Laboratory (now Marine Science Institute) established in Port Aransas
1951 – Experimental Science Building completed, the largest building for science research in the U.S.
1967 – Brackenridge Field Lab established on shores of Lady Bird Lake
1969 – Patterson Hall completed
1970  College of Natural Sciences officially established
1974 – Department of Computer Science begins offering undergrad degrees
1980 – Institute for Fusion Studies opens
1997 – UTeach program established
1999 – Biology programs reorganized into the School of Biological Sciences
2005 – Jackson School of Geosciences splits from the college
2005 – Freshman Research Initiative established
2010 – School of Human Ecology formed within the college
2013 – School of Biological Sciences is dissolved and three new biology departments are formed: Integrative Biology, Molecular Biosciences and Neuroscience.

For more information on UT history, check out http://www.texasexes.org/uthistory.

Deans of the College

David Vanden Bout (2021 – present)

Paul Goldbart (Served 2018 – 2020)

Linda Hicke (Served 2012 – 2018)

Mary Ann Rankin (Served 1994 – 2011)

Robert E. Boyer
(Served 1980 – 1994)

A.R. Shrank (Served 1973 – 1974, 1976 – 1980)

Paul Olum (Served 1974 – 1976)

Samuel P. Ellison (Served 1971 – 1973)


More about prior deans

Geologist Robert E. Boyer’s service as dean to the College of Natural Sciences spanned 14 years. The college’s 20thanniversary celebration occurred during his tenure over the 1990-1991 academic year, which was branded “The Decade of the Nineties: Launching the 21st Century with Excellence in Science.”

Boyer and his group of faculty established both the Institute for Science and Mathematics Education and the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, helping The University of Texas at Austin build one of the most competitive science programs in the nation. He also started the Hall of Honor and the Hall of Honor Awards to help recognize distinguished faculty as well as prominent donors who aided the college and the university by increasing the influence of the sciences in society. His work with the Natural Sciences Foundation Advisory Council helped the college make numerous networks to businesses, corporations and public officials. Also, his fundraising goals for the college’s 20thanniversary brought in approximately $27 million.

Dr. Mary Ann Rankin oversaw, with her administrative team, the development of numerous new interdisciplinary research initiatives, construction of new science buildings and the establishment of several successful programs for undergraduates, including the Freshman Research Initiative and the UTeach program for math and science teacher preparation. Research centers that were established or grown substantially during Rankin’s deanship included the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research, the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, the Center for Learning and Memory, and the Marine Science Institute. Several new world-class buildings came on-line during Rankin’s tenure as dean, including the Norman Hackerman Building, the Louise and James Robert Moffett Molecular Biology Building, the Applied Computational and Engineering Sciences Building, the Neural Molecular Science Building and the Larry R. Faulkner Nano Science and Technology Building.

Dr. Linda Hicke joined the College of Natural Sciences in July 2012 and oversaw initiatives including the launch of a new department, Statistics and Data Sciences, and a reorganization that led to the establishment of three additional departments: Neuroscience, Integrative Biology, and Molecular Biosciences. During her time as dean, she oversaw curricular restructuring initiatives in both undergraduate and graduate education, an expansion of the Freshman Research Initiative and the John Ring LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease, the establishment of the first cryo-EM facility on the UT Austin campus, the opening of the Bill & Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall, and creation of the college's first Master Space Plan, which helped lead to renovations in such historic buildings as Welch Hall.