by Adrienne Dawson
S. Craig Watkins, the Ernest A. Sharpe Centennial Professor in communication, has been appointed director of the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, effective Jan. 1.
Watkins succeeds Art Markman, who has led the institute since 2018 before being named UT’s vice provost for continuing and professional education this past June.
“Art Markman has been a transformative leader for the IC2 Institute. In particular, the Home to Texas program has cleverly combined research, experiential education for UT students, and service to Texas communities,” said Vice President for Research Dan Jaffe. “Craig Watkins promises to bring a new set of skills and talents to the institute as it deepens its connections with UT researchers who study entrepreneurship in all of its forms and broadens its reach into communities across the state and the nation.”
Watkins is an internationally recognized author and media expert. He is also the founding director of UT’s Institute for Media Innovation and leads the AI and the Future of Racial Justice research team as part of the Good Systems grand challenge. His work examines teen media behavior, particularly within Black and Latino communities, as well as the design of equitable and nonharmful AI technologies.
IC2 focuses on understanding the ecosystems of regional economies — and the commerce, government policies and educational systems that drive them — particularly those communities outside Texas’ major metropolitan areas.
“From the social scientific study of entrepreneurship to the interdisciplinary work related to revitalizing communities, IC2 has been a vibrant source of knowledge and public engagement,” Watkins said. “Today, there is a growing call and need to leverage new technologies and our data-driven world to cultivate an innovation economy that is predicated on inclusion and social impact. I see a future in which IC2 will be a hub for producing the knowledge, networks and talent needed to do just that.”
Watkins said he plans to build on the institute’s strengths, especially the relationships that Markman and the IC2 staff have forged both on campus and with communities across the state. Those partnerships are the cornerstone of programs like Home to Texas, which connects UT undergraduates with well-paid internships and research opportunities in their hometowns.
“I have enjoyed working with the IC2 team and the network of faculty, students and regional leaders that we have developed as we have forged our mission of exploring economic development in small communities,” Markman said. “As hard as it is to leave the institute, I am thrilled that Craig will bring his steady hand, expertise and experience with IC2 research to guide the institute to new heights. He is the ideal person to take on the leadership of this jewel of The University of Texas at Austin.”
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