THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON
UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND ASSOCIATES
The Fall Meeting of the University Faculty and Associates was held at 4:00 p.m., on Tuesday, October 16, 2001, in the University Center Rosebud Theatre. President Robert E. Witt presided.
Recognition of New Faculty and Associates. President Witt asked the new faculty and associates to stand for recognition.
Recognition of Professors Emeriti. These retired professors were conferred with this honorary title because of their exemplary service and dedication to the University and the community. Each individual received a framed certificate and a lapel pin. Recognized this year were: Irving O. Dawson, Political Science; Edwin A. Gerloff, Management; Luther G. Hagard, Political Science; Tseng Huang, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Bede Karl Lackner, History; France A. Meier, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering; Lenard Studerus, Modern Languages; and Terry J. Witt, Accounting.
Remarks by the President. In President Witt’s seventh address to the Fall Semester Faculty Meeting at UTA, he announced that the state of the University is sound and our prospects are promising. He spoke on events of recent months that will continue to influence the future of our University.
One of the most important things that occurred during the end of our last legislative session was the passage of House Bill 1839. This bill formally recognized that The University of Texas at Arlington is well along the path of emerging into a Flagship University. President Witt said it was the combined effect of students, programs, teaching and research that influenced the legislature to give us that designation. They will soon be releasing the final numbers for the initial allocation of $32 million excellence funds, and the President is optimistic that UTA will lead the eight institutions participating in these funds in size of allocation. We owe the Arlington legislative delegation our appreciation for their efforts on our behalf during this last legislative session.
Another area where we have made continuing progress is the strengthening of our campus infrastructure through an extensive program of renovations, construction of new buildings and campus beautification projects. We are nearing completion of the brick renovation on Pickard Hall and on the Business Building. We will soon begin construction on a new Fine Arts and Campus Support Annex, an approximate 50,000 square foot building in the vicinity of our current police center. This facility will provide 30,000 square feet to house painting, sculpture, metalwork, ceramics and glassblowing faculty, providing increased space size and quality. It will also provide additional space for our campus support operations. The move of this part of fine arts faculty will allow 20,000 square feet in the center of campus to be reallocated to other departments. We will go forward with our new science building using allocated funds of $29.6 million plus supplemental funds. Another new building to be located in the area of Mitchell and Pecan Streets will house Continuing Education and a variety of related functions and organizations designed to help upgrade the employment skills of individuals. We have broken ground on the first of two new apartment complexes, and hope to break ground on another in November. These two complexes will provide over 500 beds.
For the sixth consecutive long semester, enrollment recorded growth. We have been monitoring the quality of our students, and the already high quality of our students took another step forward this fall. During the past year we added several new undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and will add more this year.
Although we have made progress and our prospects are promising, we will face some important challenges. Toward flagship status we will be given approximately $9.7 million to begin our efforts to go from being a very good university to a great one; the challenge will be turning those dollars into a reality, including coming up with a definition of excellence that makes sense for our University. We will be held accountable for the dollars we are given and for progress toward excellence as we define it. Access to a university without excellence is a recipe for mediocrity; however, excellence without access is a recipe for failure. If we achieve excellence at the price of access, we fail the State of Texas and cannot expect to be well supported by the Legislature. The Closing the Gaps Report states that if Texas follows its current path, in less than a decade our population will be significantly less well educated than we are today and ill equipped to compete in an increasingly competitive work place. The Legislature has made it clear that they will hold higher education accountable for closing the gap and producing a large pool of well-educated and well-trained people.
Another area we will have to turn our attention to this year is investing more in our faculty. In the last six years, we have asked more of our faculty as we wrestled with enrollment challenges, the need to improve laboratories, classrooms, media support equipment and computer support, resulting in a loss of resources to invest in our faculty. This year we will begin a transition process that will extend over several years increasing investment in faculty. We will double the number of Faculty Developmental Leaves with 50% of the increase available in 2002-03. We will provide faculty more free time for research. We will increase resources for faculty mentoring.
We will also have to devote attention to the aftermath of September 11. In the weeks following September 11, President Witt saw evidence that the academic community was weathering this difficult time as well as could be. The campus ministry groups have student-to-student outreach efforts directed to our international students to help them understand that the tragic events had nothing to do with them. Efforts by faculty members and staff to reach out to our students on a personal level have kept our loss of students to a low number and in terms of class attendance, things are back to normal. A special situations task force has been formed to develop policies and procedures to ensure the security of our campus and that our international students remain confident and comfortable and able to devote their attention to their studies.
As we go forward we need to focus on things we must do and must not do. We must be careful and prepared to go on with the business of the University. We must not become so concerned and preoccupied with the changed environment that we are no longer able to meet our responsibilities as members of this academic community. President Witt stated that he is confident that our academic community has the strength and courage to do what is necessary in the months and years ahead and will not let the pressures cause us to become distracted from our responsibilities. Every effort will be made to ensure the security and safety of this campus and allow the University to continue to operate.
President Witt reminded us that the journey to becoming a flagship university will take many years, but will be a great trip.
Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 4:40 p.m., with an invitation to attend the reception in the foyer.