Leadership Summit Lunch
September 24, 2010
We have a lot to be proud of recently… [Introduce media clips]
It’s already been a great semester, as you
can see. But we have so much more to
look forward to, as well.
Connecting past to present
A number of you on our Development Board and advisory councils are UT Arlington alumni…spanning several decades of our university’s history. You share a bond with our current students.
Over the years, since many of you first arrived on campus, we have grown in so many ways—in size, scope, and stature—but the heart of who we are has never changed.
- We are still a university that provides an exemplary education through teaching, research, and service to the community.
- We are a university that is first-class in every important respect.
- We are a university that sets ambitious goals, and then quietly achieves them.
We did it 50 years ago when we grew from a small junior college to an urban university. We did it 25 years ago when we shed the state’s notion that we were only a teacher’s college and became one of its emerging research institutions. We did it five years ago when our commuter image was cast off by the more 7,000 students living on or near campus. And, we’ll do it again when we become one of the next Tier One universities in Texas.
When he was president, my good friend Wendell Nedderman used to say that UT Arlington was “a positive-slope institution.”
Chose any metric, and the line-graph pointed up. Enrollment? Up. Research and creative activity? Up. Outstanding faculty? Up.
We are still that today. And the upward slope of these graphics is not gradual. It is boldly positive!
Our enrollment, for example, has never been higher than it is this fall. We have almost 33,000 students—our most ever. We’ve become the second-largest university in The UT System, and the fastest-growing university in Texas (up 31 percent in the past two years).
Students—including those in this room—are choosing UT Arlington in record numbers. But if you dig a little deeper, not only will you see that our enrollment is up…but so is the quality of our new students.
For example, the Class of 2014 isn't just our largest ever, it’s also the best-prepared in our university’s history. Almost 30 percent graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and two-thirds were in the top quarter. The average SAT score rose from 1071 (a record high a year ago) to 1077 this year—another record high.
Let me personalize this with an example: I had the pleasure of meeting one of our new freshmen recently. His story begins not on our campus, but on the other side of the globe.
He was just 7 years old when his family
emigrated here from Vietnam. Like
everyone else in his home, he spoke no English nor did he understand the
customs and culture of his new country.
But proving that ambition knows no borders, just a decade later, he was
valedictorian of his high school class at Seguin High School, here in
And today, he’s enrolled at UT Arlington.
He is typical of students who choose UT Arlington. Our best students are highly intelligent and remarkably motivated.
They often come from humble beginnings, but they’re headed toward bright futures.
With the opening of our new University College, we are becoming more efficient and effective at doing just that.
I want to thank our Provost, Don Bobbitt, and
Senior Vice Provost and Dean Michael Moore for their leadership in getting
University College up and running.
University College will give our new freshmen—many of whom are the first person in their family to attend college—access to whatever tools they need to adjust to college life…and move forward and ultimately toward their college degree.
Counseling, advising, mentoring, and much more are now in one place—a facility that’s centrally located on campus and singularly focused on student success.
But University College is more than a
freshman center. It will eliminate
roadblocks for all students from all majors, helping them stay on course
to graduate, whether that’s four years from now or four semesters.
We are making progress on this front. Consider this: Last year, our retention rate moved to 73 percent, up from 68 percent the year before. And this past May, we graduated more than 3,100 students—an all-time high. Another “positive slope”…
But let us remember that graduation and retention rates aren’t just impersonal statistics; they are measurements of lives transformed by experiences at UT Arlington, including earning a degree.
We’re also making sure that our students and faculty have the space they need—and the technology they need—for learning and conducting research in the most productive way.
By the end of this semester, the Engineering Research Building we’ve all watched rise out of the ground these last two years will be complete.
This will be a state-of-the-art facility to anchor a new complex of engineering and science research and will be unmatched anywhere in North Texas.
It’s also a great symbol of where we’re going and what we can accomplish at UT Arlington. This will be a signature building that will propel our research capacity and productivity in critical fields like computer science engineering, bioengineering, and genomics.
A few blocks away, on the east side of campus along Center Street, construction is now underway on the College Park District, which is more than 20 acres that—over the next two years—will become a beautiful addition to our campus.
It will give us a new parking structure, a
residence hall and student apartments, and retail and restaurant space that
will truly make downtown Arlington a college town as never before.
Then, there is long-awaited special events center. We expect it to be completed before the end of the next fall semester.
Announce new name: “College Park Center” [PowerPoint slide]
Later this fall, I will speak in more detail about the upcoming legislative session. But very briefly today, I want to mention one important point.
We all know that our state faces a large
deficit (no one is sure how large). And UT Arlington has done its part and
already reduced our budget by 5 percent for last year and this year, as the
Our priority for the upcoming legislative session will be to ensure that the quality of the education we provide will not be diminished.
Let me assure you that nothing—not the economy, not politics, not anxiety—will slow our momentum or cause us to veer off course in becoming a major, nationally recognized research university.
The truth is, I’m optimistic about where we’re headed. And all of us in this room have a role to play in leading our university to even greater heights.
Every day, we’re laying the foundation for what we will become. And with your continued support, we will not be distracted or deterred.
There is great news to share on so many fronts at UT Arlington.
A primary focus for the Leadership Summit and certainly for the work of our Development Board is to push forward an aggressive agenda for private philanthropy in order for us to eventually realize our vision for UTA as a major university of national repute.
In that vein, I am pleased to make two important announcements today.
The first is that the Amon G. Carter Foundation of Fort Worth recently made the largest grant they have ever given to UT Arlington: $700,000—half in support of the construction of the College Park Center and the other half to establish the Social Work Innovation Incubator, a university-community partnership in our School of Social Work.
The Carter grant is important not only because of the impact of the gift itself. It’s also significant because of the prestige associated with support of this magnitude from a philanthropic leader such as the Carter Foundation. This grant is a conspicuous affirmation of the quality of this university, which we believe will encourage even greater support from others in the philanthropic community.
I am also pleased to recognize two special guests with us today: Steve Webster, the Chairman of their Board of Carrizo Oil and Gas in Houston, and Chip Johnson, Carrizo’s CEO.
Carrizo and UT Arlington have formed a great partnership with the establishment of gas wells on the southeast corner of our campus, which are benefitting the University as well as many of our neighbors in the community. We are using proceeds from the gas production in our Maverick Match program to match endowments, and in less than two years more than $6 million has been attracted in endowment support from well over 100 donors as a result of this matching program.
Steve and Chip are seated with a number of the Carrizo Graduate Fellowship recipients who are being supported by a new $1 million endowment established by a gift made by Carrizo. As a result of Carrizo’s generous support and the additional $1 million in Maverick Match funds, we have made a great start in supporting one of our highest priorities – attracting top graduate students from across the country who strengthen our academic program in innumerable ways.
I am particularly
pleased to announce today that in addition to this million dollar gift already
made by Carrizo, they are also making the largest single cash commitment in
history of UT Arlington, $5 million in support of the College Park
Center. Please join me in showing them our appreciation for this landmark
This leadership support from Carrizo signals a new era at the University of Texas at Arlington, one where truly “the sky is NOT the limit for Mavericks.”
Chip Johnson has agreed to say a few words of response on behalf of Carrizo, and I would like to ask him to come forward at this time.