UTA Magazine
Elite without being elitist
Communications campaign aims to align University’s reputation with reality

UTA President James D. Spaniolo

The University of Texas at Arlington, like public colleges and universities throughout Texas and the nation, faces some very real challenges. State and federal funding are declining. Competition for the best and brightest faculty, staff and students—not to mention research dollars—is stronger than ever. We need private support like never before.

As higher education becomes increasingly competitive, it’s imperative that we align our reputation with reality and eliminate the notion that UT Arlington is North Texas’ best-kept secret.

We’ve been fine-tuning ways to showcase the many strengths of our University. The result is a communications campaign to launch in February that consists of new advertising, public relations initiatives and a brand promise of excellence. We are not unveiling a new or different UT Arlington, but turning up the volume on what we’ve been saying all along: This is an extraordinary university in which we should all invest and of which we should all be proud.

Part of the campaign involves what we call the Maverick Manifesto. We asked, “What is a Maverick?” and invited members of the campus community to reply (see www.whatisamaverick.com). My favorite definition is someone who’s an independent thinker. We’re building pride and establishing Mavericks as unrivaled leaders in research, education, and campus and community engagement.

In honoring our key messages, we asked faculty, students, alumni, staff, employers, advisory boards and media representatives what they thought of UT Arlington. What strengths did they see? What weaknesses? Where is UT Arlington headed, and is it the right path?

We conducted our own secondary research of best practices, did surveys and held focus groups. We also did a lot of listening and note-taking, and I believe we will unveil a brand that the campus community will enthusiastically embrace. It’s our University, so it should be our brand.

This process taught us much about UT Arlington. The commonly held perceptions were of experienced and highly respected faculty, strong academics, a diverse student body and convenient location. But our focus groups also stressed that UT Arlington deserves a distinctive identity that emphasizes the entire university as a learning laboratory.

The resulting message is that UT Arlington is an emerging premier public research university with leading scholars and outstanding students, yet it remains focused on being comprehensive and inclusive. Our faculty, staff, students and alumni contribute to and embrace the life of the University. Our graduates are problem-solvers with superior knowledge and a can-do attitude.

Elite without being elitist—that’s the goal. And we’re going to tell everyone.

You will soon see a clearer picture of UT Arlington, one we believe will lead to increased pride, increased public and private investments, improved recruiting and retention and an increased understanding among business and opinion leaders.

UT Arlington is a first-choice university—a university of achievers.

Gen. Tommy Franks (’71 BBA) recently was named American Association of State Colleges and Universities Distinguished Alumnus (see story). State Sen. Royce West (’74 BA, ’79 MA) is the newest member of the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame. Alcon Laboratories’ chief financial officer, Jacqualyn Fouse (’82 BA, ’84 MA), recently was chosen the National Financial Executive of the Year by the Institute of Management Accountants.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Others of you are making a difference by succeeding in the workplace, giving back to the community or assisting those in need. I have written some of you to say congratulations and thank you. I hope you will remain active in the UT Arlington community.

Part of this means helping spread the word.

We have taken important steps, but our formal branding launch this spring will hardly complete the process or fulfill our promise. Much remains to be done. In the coming months, you will see more about UT Arlington, first in the Fort Worth/Dallas and Houston media and then statewide and nationwide. You will see more launch events in North Texas and Houston, similar to our grand celebration on campus.

You will see us reaching out in new ways to prospective students, high school guidance counselors, parents, current and prospective supporters, business leaders and potential employers, elected officials and, of course, our growing alumni base.

In the meantime, I invite you to share your stories of UT Arlington and what makes it special. We will compile these in print and video and in other ways as we continue proclaiming that UT Arlington is a great place to be.

— James D. Spaniolo

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