Most likely to succeed
University plays a central role in couple’s
personal and professional lives

by Janell Broyles

Most couples have an endearing story about their engagement. With alumni Michael and Dorothy Burton, it’s who asked whom.

They can’t agree.


“I suppose if I were going to do something truly different, I’d be an astronaut and go up on a space shuttle.”

– Michael Burton (’80 BS)


We were up in the Reunion Tower observation deck when the ‘agreement’ was reached,” Michael says diplomatically. “He proposed to me. He always says I asked him, but that’s just not true,” Dorothy responds with a grin. “What happened was, I told him that if he expected me to wait for him, he needed to think again. We needed to be more than just boyfriend and girlfriend. He had a choice.”

“And I chose the wise option,” Michael says.

It took only four months after they met at a UTA Greek event for the young couple to get engaged, but the demands of school meant it would be four years before they could say their wedding vows.

Michael graduated from UTA with his bachelor’s degree in microbiology the May after he met Dorothy and began attending Southern College of Optometry in Memphis.
“She still had two years to go at UTA, and I had two years after that before I’d be finished,” Michael says. “So for four years, we could only afford to see each other once a month.”

On June 23, 1984, they finally walked down the aisle. Michael had his doctorate in optometry from the University of Houston, and Dorothy had her bachelor’s in journalism and was working in corporate communications. They bought a house in Duncanville and were ready to settle down—or so they thought.

Deciding she needed a new career challenge, Dorothy took some aptitude tests at UTA and scored well in public administration. She entered the urban affairs graduate program, obtaining her master’s degree in 1989. In the meantime, an internship at the Fort Worth T transit system had a profound effect on her plans.

“I’d been thinking of becoming a city manager,” she remembers, “but that internship was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences I ever had. I never forgot it.”

After graduation, she spent eight years as assistant to Dallas County Judge Lee Jackson. This March, she became chief of staff to the executive vice president and general manager of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, overseeing DART’s Administrative Services and Property Management Division.

The couple, who have one daughter, enjoy volunteering. Dorothy has served as a board member of Leadership Southwest and the Duncanville Chamber of Commerce and as chairwoman of the Duncanville Planning and Zoning Commission.

Michael serves as secretary of the UTA Alumni Association board of directors and is an active member of the Texas Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association. He also provides support and services to local, national and international eye care missions.

And his optometry practice continues to grow. In 1996, he was honored with the Outstanding African-American Alumni Award at UTA’s 7th Annual African-American Alumni Scholarship Reception.

Asked if he would change anything about his career, Michael pauses. “I suppose if I were going to do something truly different, I’d be an astronaut and go up on a space shuttle. But I’m happy with my life right now, just the way it is.”



Springing forward
Graduate students lead the way in spring enrollment increase
Graduate students like Ruby Ruperto and her Contemporary Science classmates significantly boosted University enrollment for spring 2001, the fifth consecutive semester of enrollment increases.

Writing for the Digital Age
New  tools and technologies are taking one Honors English class online and into the future
When students in Martin Danahay’s Honors English class get ready to work, they don’t pull textbooks out of their backpacks. Instead, they each slide a thin, black Toshiba laptop onto their desk, flip up the cover and log in to UTA’s first completely wireless class.

Worldwide welcome
International recruitment efforts are expected to pay long-term dividends
New faces, from places all over the world, keep coming through the UTA front door. And, with continuing international recruitment efforts, the University is keeping the welcome mat on the doorstep.


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