Spring Faculty and Associates Meeting
May 2, 2011
Thank you, Provost Bobbitt. Good afternoon.
I add my congratulations to those distinguished faculty members who we’ve just honored. And my thanks. You’ve received awards today, but you honor us every day with your service and unwavering commitment to excellence. You represent the best in all of us.
When we talk about UT Arlington, it’s your story that we tell. When someone asks, “what’s the value of a university?”…we’ll show them the difference that you’ve made.
You are on the leading edge of a university that’s exceptional…and getting better with each passing day. We are a university that has rocketed ahead. We have weathered every storm—and there are more storms on the horizon—and we’ve emerged more focused than ever on two small words and one big idea: Tier One.
And by Tier One, I mean a university that is excellent across the board—not just in one or two colleges.
We’re making progress. And in case you haven’t noticed, the pace at which we’ve been operating lately is staggering.
Consider the last 10 years. The truth is, 10 years isn’t much time in the life of a university. It’s at most a chapter in our long history. Yet our history as a 4-year university is only half a century. And our incarnation as UT Arlington is less than that.
In recent years, we’ve made strides so significant that they will shape our entire future.
For example…in the 2000-2001 academic year, our enrollment was a little more than 20,000 students. Today, it’s almost 34,000, up 70%. And from freshmen to graduate students, we’re seeing record numbers of applications in every demographic.
Over the last decade, we’ve taken steps to improve retention and graduation rates—areas that have historically tested us, and where the needle moves more slowly. And we have lots more progress to make.
Our physical plant totaled less than 4 million square feet in 2001. Today, it exceeds 5 million—up 25%, much of that addition being new research space like the remarkable Engineering Research Building we dedicated in March.
Take almost any metric by which Tier One universities are defined, and you’ll see the progress that we’ve made over the last decade.
- Our endowment—so critical to our future—has more than doubled to exceed $77 million, a record—but also just a beginning.
- Thanks to the efforts of many of you, our research expenditures have more than tripled to over $63 million annually. We have 100 new tenure-system faculty positions, including almost three times the number of endowed chairs we had a decade ago.
- In the last 10 years, the number of “Top 10%” freshmen we’ve enrolled has doubled. These students could go anywhere, and they’re choosing UT Arlington—and staying at UT Arlington. And it’s not just on the undergraduate level: The number of doctoral degrees we award is also up by half.
are no numbers, however, to measure the respect and admiration we’ve earned
around the state. Seven years ago at
this very meeting, I said that UT Arlington would be no one’s “best-kept
secret” anymore. Well, let me say it emphatically
now…the word is out about UT Arlington!
But let me also say that we’ve only just begun.
Take all of this together, and you’ll see that what we’ve been doing is working. Our hard work is paying off, and step by step, brick by brick, we are making real progress toward our Tier One goal. That’s because of all of you. I want to thank you for your best efforts over the last 10 years. Our success blooms in the garden that you’ve tilled.
Of course, I don’t have to tell you that our progress hasn’t always been easy or come without a cost. There have been challenges, to be sure.
And now…we face a new challenge to our progress. The budget constraints facing our state are very real, and they are forcing us all to make difficult choices. They mean that we must consider carefully what is critical to our mission of educating, innovating, and serving…and what is not.
In these challenging times, the best way to meet the university’s needs—in fact, the only way—is to continue to focus our efforts and resources solely on the areas where they’re needed most.
Part of the challenge we face is that the state legislature still hasn’t passed a budget, and we don’t know when that will be accomplished. But this much we know: We will receive less state-appropriated revenue, by some degree, for the next biennium than we did in this biennium. And that’s on top of the 7.5% reduction of state revenues that we’ve already absorbed in our current budget. But let us not define or limit our aspirations by the current shortage of state revenue.
To a great extent, we can control our own destiny. Currently, only 24% of our budget comes from state revenue. It’s likely that it will be less than 20% going forward.
That’s why we have become more and more entrepreneurial in the last few years. That trend must continue as we find creative ways to generate new revenue streams that will fuel our success.
There will be challenging times ahead for sure. And we will be called to make hard choices. No one said building a Tier One university would be easy. As President Kennedy proclaimed a half century ago: We will go to the moon in this decade, not because it is easy but because it is hard. The road is Tier One a long, winding journey that requires persistence, determination, courage…and the unwavering belief that we’re on the right track. And I firmly believe we are.
As we forge ahead together, let’s keep our eyes on the prize. And let us commit ourselves to the idea that we will not be deterred, our momentum will not be slowed, and our shared vision is stronger than our greatest threat.
When I think about the challenges we face, I also see the enormous possibilities that lie ahead. I reflect on our decade of progress, and I envision where we will be, were we can be in 10 years, in 2021. Who would have predicted in 2001 what we have achieved by 2011. I challenge you all to join me in envisioning what and where we can be in 2021.
we achieve, let me promise you this: a
decade from now, we will still be UT Arlington.
We will always be a great university with the greatest mission in the
world: transforming the lives of students,
pushing the boundaries of knowledge, and serving those around us. We will pursue excellence in every way that
matters: That is Tier One. That is our goal. That is our destiny because we choose to make
I personally can’t wait to see UT Arlington, circa 2021.
And I look forward to celebrating your work and your excellence again, and again, and again during the decade to come.