[UTA Magazine]




Mark Permenter

Assistant Editor/Senior Writer
Sherry Wodraska Neaves

Contributing Writers
O.K. Carter
Jim Patterson
Laura Hanna

Copy Editor
John Dycus

Creative Director
Joel Quintans

Carol A. Lehman

Contributing Designer
Shawnna Stepp

Robert Crosby

Contributing Photographer
Charlotte Atteberry

Production Assistant
Beverlee Matthys

Joel Quintans
Robert Crosby

Web Design
Chuck Pratt
Andrew Leverenz
Philip Hanna



The ageless wonder of education

We had been kicking around the idea of running a story on the oldest and youngest UTA students for more than a year. I'd given it only half-hearted credence, figuring we had a couple of 17-year-olds and maybe a handful of students in their 70s. Nothing worthy of building an issue around.

hourglass and story photosThen I received an e-mail from Michael Tumeo in Institutional Research and Planning. His search had revealed that 71 years separated the oldest and youngest students enrolled for the spring 2002 semester. In fact, the University had registered four students younger than 17 and four older than 70, including two in their 80s. I knew UTA appealed to students of all ages, but I never expected such a gap.

Challenged to put this 71-year chasm into perspective, I contemplated what has happened on the campus in that span: two name changes, elevation to four-year status, the move to The University of Texas System, the addition of graduate programs and a nearly 40-fold increase in enrollment. And that's barely scratching the surface.

Eventually, we learned that by the time 14-year-old freshman Moutaz Haq was born, 85-year-old sophomore Charles Johnson had washed dishes for $1 a day during the Depression, fought in the D-Day invasion of France, started college, quit college to pursue a career in surveying and retired. What circumstances brought these individuals, separated by three-and-a-half generations, to the same place in pursuit of the same goal makes fascinating reading—and this issue's cover story.

When we began exploring related angles, Tumeo came through again, offering a list of the oldest and youngest graduates since 1997. More amazement. Five alumni earned degrees after turning 70, including a 76- and a 78-year-old. As for the youngest, we should have known it would be Andi Baritchi. Profiled in the winter 1998 UTA Magazine as a 16-year-old junior, the computer whiz earned his bachelor's degree at 17 followed by a master's at 18. Now 20, Baritchi is on course to become the University's youngest Ph.D. graduate later this year.

Taking the theme one step further, we decided to peer into the lives and classrooms of two professors—one closing in on a half-century of UTA service and one who just completed her first year on campus.

Albert Einstein said that intellectual growth should begin at birth and end at death. UTA is doing its part to stretch the learning curve closer to both ends of the spectrum.

- Mark Permenter, Editor


shim shim shim shim shim shim shim