his fall marks five years since I was named president at UT Arlington. Even before I arrived on campus, I recognized the great promise of this University and the remarkable men and women who make it what it is. I saw an institution that was not only eager to advance, but also well positioned to do so.
I believed then, as one of our billboards says now, that the sky is not the limit. I am more convinced than ever that there are no limits to what we can accomplish if we join together in a common cause.
Consider the progress we’ve made in the last five years:
Our research expenditures reached $66.5 million in 2007-08, up 57 percent from the previous year and more than double the total of six years ago. I challenge you to find another university where research has grown so rapidly.
We actively participate in the conversation about the direction of higher education in Texas. But our goal is not just to be in the conversation about major research universities; our goal is to be one! This will take a decade or more, but if we continue on this trajectory our record will speak for itself. And we will have achieved whatever distinction we are accorded the old-fashioned way: We will have earned it. That epitomizes our university. That’s the Maverick way.
We’re seeing greater pride and engagement at UT Arlington than ever before. I believe it’s directly related to our increase in on-campus housing and fostering a sense of community. In fact, a larger percentage of students live on the UT Arlington campus than at any other UT System institution—and the waiting list is still a thousand students long.
We’re transforming in other ways, too. Our Master Plan is moving from concept to action. In the weeks ahead, we will unveil the initial designs of our Diversity Fountain, and we hope to begin construction before the close of the academic year. This fountain will become a signature location near the Central Library.
In late September, we broke ground on our Engineering Research Complex, the centerpiece of which will be one of the largest buildings on campus. This facility will allow engineering faculty to work side-by-side with their College of Science colleagues and be much more than just a campus landmark. It will provide UT Arlington with state-of-the-art engineering and science facilities that are unmatched in North Texas and beyond—just like our innovative, highly recognized Smart Hospital has done for our School of Nursing.
We cannot discount the transformative effect that a strong UT Arlington can have on Texas. We graduate approximately 6,000 students every year, one of the largest totals in the state. And I look to all alumni and friends to play an important role as we move forward.
Almost five years ago, I concluded my investiture speech by quoting one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. “I have promises to keep,” Frost wrote, “and miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”
We at UT Arlington have come a long way since then. But we still have miles to go before we rest.
And there’s not a day to waste.
— James D. Spaniolo
for School of Urban and Public Affairs, Honors College
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