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October 3, 2013
During the past four months, I've been on an exciting, energizing, and exhilarating journey of discovery. I've had the opportunity to meet with alumni and community leaders, the privilege of learning about the excellence and dedication of our faculty and staff, and the thrill of meeting and getting to know our students.
UT Arlington is a wonderful institution — where access and excellence coexist, where excellence in teaching and research are balanced and move forward in symphony, and where true diversity is defined. UT Arlington is destined not only to rise to pre-eminence through its journey to become a Tier One institution across the board, but also to set high standards for others to follow.
I am extremely impressed with the great work that is being accomplished at UT Arlington. I see the very highest levels of quality in so much that we do — in the classroom, in our research labs, on the courts and playing fields, out in the community, and beyond. Numbers do not by themselves represent achievement, but three numbers continue to ring in my ears "7-6-5":
More than 33,300 students from all over the state of Texas, across the United States, and around the globe call The University of Texas at Arlington their academic home. We graduated more than 9,000 students last year, and we lead all UT System campuses in degree production ratio. UT Arlington should justifiably be proud of its commitment to ensuring both excellence and access. We have proved time and again that while the quality of the input stream is important, it's how we enable and encourage students while they're here that largely determines the quality of the output and makes such a difference in so many of their lives.
These and so many accolades received by our faculty, staff, and students reinforce what we have known all along. We can, and do, define excellence in so many areas and in so many ways. UT Arlington is strong, it's thriving, it's already setting standards that others will follow — and there is so much potential yet to be realized. We must recognize, however, that the world is changing around us. The University as we know it must adapt or become obsolete. I believe that we need to think new, to think quickly, to think big, and to believe that our future is not in a year, five years, or sometime in the distance, but that it is now! We need to lead the way, rather than follow. UT Arlington has done that before, and I'm confident that we can, and will, do that successfully again.
A top priority for us this fall is to focus on strategic planning. We need to work to answer important questions that will help us shape and define our future — and chart the path that will get us there. During the coming weeks, I will be eliciting input and ideas from our faculty, staff, and students. I hope you will take the time to share your opinions, your dreams, and your aspirations — for yourselves and for this great institution. Your ideas, input, and participation are essential to our future.
We have some important questions to answer. What does "Tier One" mean at UT Arlington? What must we do to achieve excellence across the board? What do we do well? What can we do better? What will UT Arlington look like in 10, 15, or 20 years? More importantly, what do we want it to look like?
Working with a theme of Forward Thinking, I'd like to encourage everyone to participate in the planning process and join the conversation about the University's future. For instance, this email message, Dialogue, was developed specifically to gain input and help encourage the University community to become engaged. We have launched Forward Thinking, an interactive website where you'll find the latest information that's emerging from the discussions and planning process. More importantly, you'll have the opportunity to submit ideas and comments that will help inform the strategic plan.
To guide the initial discussion, I'd like to pose the following questions:
I hope you’ll take the time to think about these questions and share your thoughts by submitting them online at the strategic planning website, Forward Thinking.
I realize there may be some fatigue related to strategic planning. I can almost hear a collective groan! So I assure you this will not be a repetitive process, nor will it be a long, drawn-out affair. Rather, the next iteration of our strategic plan will build on what has been done to date — clarifying our vision and mission as a major urban research university and setting concrete goals and objectives within the colleges, schools, and administrative units. This will ensure that we move forward with a sense of common purpose, individual commitment, and urgency.
Your ideas and input are welcome, and your participation is essential — now and always. The institution we continue to build will be built together.
I look forward to getting to know all of you better as the academic year unfolds. For those of you I haven’t yet met, I look forward to meeting you soon, whether at events, meetings, athletics events, or other gatherings on campus. Please don’t hesitate to come up to me and introduce yourself.
As you’ll hear often from me, I welcome your input and encourage you to share your thoughts with me. Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com, or visit the Forward Thinking website to provide your input.
Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication. Let’s make this the best year ever at UT Arlington! Let’s dream together, work together, chart new directions, and attain levels of excellence that others did not even dare to dream of. Let’s believe that UT Arlington is destined to be the model 21st century urban university. Let’s make it happen.
Vistasp M. Karbhari
Office of the President // 701 S. Nedderman Drive, Arlington, Texas 76019 // 817-272-2101