THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON

UNIVERSITY FACULTY AND ASSOCIATES

MINUTES

 

The Fall Meeting of the University Faculty and Associates was held at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 19, 2004, in the University Center Rosebud Theatre.  President James D. Spaniolo presided.

 

Recognition of New Faculty and Associates.  President Spaniolo asked the new faculty and associates to stand for recognition.

 

Recognition of Professors Emeriti.  Eleven retired professors were conferred with the honorary title of Professor Emeritus 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:

 


W. A. Baker Jr.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

 

Mo-Shing Chen

Electrical Engineering

 

Gary Ebensberger

Music

 

Brooks B. Ellwood

Geology

 

Paul N. Geisel

Urban and Public Affairs

 

Karen B. Heusinkveld

Nursing

Ferne Kyba

Nursing

 

Dallas L. Lacy

English

 

Thomas E. Porter

English

Also conferred Dean Emeritus

 

Donald F. Reaser

Geology

 

Gladstone T. Stevens Jr.

Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering


 


Remarks by the President.

 

I would like to share some thoughts on the progress we’ve made in recent months as well as the opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead.  As I was preparing for this speech, I took some time to reflect on the past eight months since I became president of the University of Texas at Arlington.  I have never had eight months in which there has been more activity or challenge or stimulation or excitement or enthusiasm than in these last eight months.  This is truly a wonderful university.  We have strong students, a dedicated staff, and a truly outstanding faculty.  As president, my responsibility and my challenge for each member of the UT Arlington community is to build on our successes and foundation to make this a university where you can not only expect great things but a place where each of us can expect and demand excellence of each other.

In recent months, we have made some tangible progress on several fronts that I believe significantly strengthen our university.  First and foremost, we have hired the largest group of new faculty at one time in the university’s history.  These faculty bring national reputations and excellence in a number of fields.  Many of our new faculty have left universities such as the University of Illinois, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Brown University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

            In addition to hiring a first rate faculty, we are pleased to have with us this fall our most impressive and highest ranked new freshman class.  This fall we raised admission standards for freshman and we will soon do the same for transfer students for next fall.  The result has been a better prepared class.  More than 60 percent of our first time freshman graduated in the upper quartile of their high school classes.  We can expect much more of these students and in turn they will expect more of us. 

            We also have our largest enrollment ever -- 25,297 students.  In fact, our enrollment grew for the 17th semester in a row which is a testament to the quality of our programs and the efforts of our recruiters.  It is important to note, however, that our growth this fall was slower than in previous years.  This was done intentionally to slow the rapid growth that was placing undue stresses on our infrastructure.  Our goal in the coming years will be to continue our growth but in a managed focused manner that does not jeopardize the quality of the education we provide or compromise our goal of becoming a leading research university.  The creation of the Academy of Scholars is something in which Provost Dunn and I take great pride.

We have completed or are nearing completion of a number of important construction projects.  K.C. Hall opened this fall with 421 beds and was recently dedicated.  It includes our first residential learning communities and freshman interest groups.  We expect these programs to significantly increase our retention rates and speed students toward graduation.

We also had major renovation of the Nanofab Laboratory.  New microscopes will assist us in securing important research dollars and help us maintain a leading role in this important area of cutting edge research.  We have completed the Studio Arts Center and will be dedicating it in the spring of next semester.  There was a major addition to the University Center.  We also dedicated the new recreational sports field this fall which adds again to the opportunities available to our students.  I’d like to say how appreciative I am for the very dedicated and hardworking physical plant staff have contributed to bring these buildings online and on time.

            Finally, I’d like to note that I’ve made significant progress in shaping our university leadership team.  Shortly after I arrived, I regularized John Hall, Rusty Ward, and Ron Elsenbaumer as vice presidents.  They’re doing an outstanding job.  More recently, I appointed Dana Dunn as Provost.  Beth Wright has become Dean of Liberal Arts.  I’ve also added two new vice presidents, Gary Cole and Lynn Handley.  Together this is a truly impressive leadership team and I feel privileged to work with them.  They are committed to serving this university and committed to making progress on behalf of you and all the members of the University of Texas at Arlington. 

            While we have much of which to be proud, there are important challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us.  In January, the Texas Legislature will reconvene and be in session.  I look forward to working with the UT System and the members of our legislative delegation to tell the UTA story and the many stories of excellence and value that we add to the DFW metroplex and the state of Texas.

In recent years, the State of Texas legislature has asked public higher education to become increasingly self reliant.  I think it is safe to assume that this trend will continue but that can’t be an excuse for us.  We must be tireless and thoughtful in our advocacy on behalf of the University of Texas at Arlington.  I promise you that our advocacy and our effort will be relentless and tireless on behalf of the entire leadership team here at UTA.

            My job is to make sure that our Board of Regents, the governor, and the legislature know the contribution that UTA makes to the community and to the state.  We’re active on a number of fronts in attempting to build collaborations and partnerships.  We have a Metroplex Council that brings together UT Arlington, UTD, and UT Southwestern Medical Center in an effort to encourage and foster greater connections and greater research collaborations.  We are active with Team Arlington which was organized by the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Arlington for advocacy at the state level and seeking federal funding as well. We’re also working with the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas Chambers of Commerce.

            While we have little control over what happens in Austin, we can control more directly what happens on our campus.  In the coming months, we will continue to face the following challenges.  Both faculty and staff salaries are compressed, low and often non-competitive.  We recognize this and we will do what we can to improve the situation.         Hiring faculty to replace retiring and departing faculty and additional faculty to keep the pace with enrollment demands is a serious challenge.  This is one reason it is so important to manage growth.  If we wish to maintain our trajectory toward excellence, we will be competing for the best faculty in an even more competitive market place.  This fall we were able to attract some of the best faculty in the country.  I’m very encouraged by that. 

            Student retention and the graduation rate of our students must continue to improve.  We’ve done a great job in recent years in attracting students to our campus.  We’ve been a gateway of opportunity for first generation college students.  We have not, however, been as successful as we need to be in assisting these students in progressing  toward their degrees.  As a university once we attract students we must commit to providing an environment to staying in school and making sustained and steady progress toward their degrees.  Building traditions such as our new student convocation, and our plans for a pre-commencement convocation this spring are an example of building support and building traditions and building connections to our students.  Additionally the Provost Office has created a task force with broad based representation from the campus designed to offer concrete suggestions and actions for how we can improve our retention and graduation rates.

            Over the summer, I commissioned the Neinas Sports Services to examine the costs associated with the proposed sports expansion.  The report is now available on the university website and I’ve asked the university community to respond with their comments after reading the report during the month of October.  We hope to make some decisions about where we are going on sports expansion before the end of the calendar year.

            Two other long term projects remain on our horizon.  The Student Information System implementation is first.  We’ve entered into a contract with People Soft to install their SIS.  We’re calling this system MyMav and it will replace the existing SAM process.  We will not be ready to go live with this system until the fall of 2006 but many departments on campus will be devoting countless hours to this project over the course of the next several years.  In one way or another, we will all be asked to make adjustments and sacrifices for this project but it will be worth the effort in the long term.  As we move forward with this critical project, I ask for your patience and your support.

            Now let me say a work about strategic planning. It is important for our university to engage in a series of strategic conversations about our future and to develop a strategic plan that will guide us in coming years.  Provost Dunn and I will host and facilitate a series of strategic discussions beginning this fall with various constituents from the university.  From these meetings, I hope to develop a set of planning priorities that will form the development of a new strategic plan for our university. 

Once I have these planning priorities in hand, Provost Dunn and I will lead the second phase of this effort which will entail the development of a university wide strategic plan with consultation from the academic deans and an opportunity for the entire UTA community to review and comment on the proposed plan before it is finalized.  I would encourage all of you to try to attend one of these sessions.  This planning process is critical to the future of our university.  It is important that we hear fresh ideas from the UTA community.  It is extremely valuable to empower the members of our community to have a voice and become engaged in the university in which we work and to which we are dedicated.

            I look forward to working with all of you in the weeks and months ahead.  We are a great university.  I think the process that we’re about to engage is to challenge all of us to think big but implement prudently.  We can accomplish great things together.

 

Adjournment.  The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m., with an invitation to attend the reception in the foyer.

 

 

 

 

Michael K. Moore

Secretary

 

 

/jw