So, what are these 'great things' you should expect?
The voice on the other end of the line boomed.
"Hello, sir. Tom Franks. How are you doing?"
It was the kind of voice you'd expect from the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Commandstrong, forceful, a bit intimidating.
"I'm doing fine, general," I replied to the man charged with running the day-to-day military campaign in Afghanistan, the man responsible for military operations covering 25 nations in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East.
I felt like I should be saluting or standing at attention. Or at least wearing a starched khaki shirt. After all, this was one of the world's leading military figures and the most prominent person I'd interviewed for a UTA Magazine story.
How receptive would he be? Maybe his day was going badly. Maybe he'd just been chewed out by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. How did these moments with a magazine editor rate on the priority scale?
Thirty seconds into the conversation, I had my answer.
The general laughed when I asked about his typical day. His manner said more than his response to any question. It appeared that he was as I had perceived on television: one who maintains perspective, whether in a war room or during an interview with some fellow back home.
We talked for half an hour on a range of topics: Sept. 11, his relationship with the president, his grandson's eating habits, memories of his days as a UTA student in the early 1970s. He wasn't reluctant to answer personal questions.
He came across as a dedicated soldier and solid family man. His first thought following the terrorist attacks, he said, was that his grandkids' lives would be changed forever. This issue is devoted to "great things" about UTA, and Tommy Franks belongs on the cover.
About a year ago, the University began using the "Expect Great Things" tag in promotional materials. As you'll read on the opposite page, the slogan is a major feature of billboard and print ads, radio spots and other aspects of a comprehensive effort to raise awareness.
As the campaign saturates the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we thought the timing was right to highlight a few of these great things you've been hearing about. Great faculty, staff and students. Great academic programs. A great campus that continues to improve.
And, of course, great alumni.
"You're going to be on campus in October for the Distinguished Alumni Gala, is that right?" I asked Gen. Franks as our conversation wrapped up.
"I'll be there," he answered.
"I want to make sure I meet you that night," I said.
"I'd like that very much," he replied.
General, the pleasure will be mine.
Mark Permenter, Editor