[UTA Magazine]




Mark Permenter

Assistant Editor/Senior Writer
Jim Patterson

Contributing Writers
O.K. Carter
Laura Hanna
Sherry Wodraska Neaves
Danny Woodward

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
Cornelius Smith



Land of opportunity

plaque marking the opening of Arlington Hall in fall 2000Nobody thought much about it when enrollment took a small dip in fall 1992. After all, UTA was still the fifth largest university in Texas with nearly 25,000 students.

Then seven consecutive years of declines followed as enrollment plunged to a 20-year low of 18,662 in 1998. A blip on the radar screen had become a disturbing trend, one with potentially dire consequences for an institution dependent on students for its livelihood.

Enrollment growth brings more revenue in tuition and fees and in formula funding from the state. This is money that can be reinvested in the institution. But the source was drying up.

In the mid-1990s, the University launched programs and initiatives aimed at reversing the slide. Administrators urged patience, cautioning that we might not see results until several years down the road.

They proved prophetic: Enrollment has surged 28 percent in the past five years.

The upswing began with a small gain in 1999 followed by more dramatic increases the next three years. The streak of advances reached 12 consecutive semesters this spring, and preliminary data suggest the hikes will continue in the fall.

How best to portray such a dramatic turnaround? I asked Dale Wasson, associate vice president for student enrollment services, why he thought UTA was the fastest-growing public university in Texas last fall. His answer was an insightful, big-picture response—not the listing of factors I expected. It was obviously a question he had been pondering awhile.

"The growth has been so widespread that I believe there is no one reason other than to say that UTA represents a good opportunity," he said. "We have seen growth in just about all sectors, and opportunity is probably the one common denominator."

Many of these opportunities didn't exist a few years ago. Without distance education offerings, Erik Steffen wouldn't be working toward a master's degree while living in Micronesia. Without beefed-up recruiting, Martie Garcia would never have chosen UTA over universities much closer to her South Texas home. Without minisemester courses, Jim Hartless wouldn't have completed his economics degree in three years.

Without Arlington Hall and other fresh campus housing, who knows how many students would have chosen to pursue their education elsewhere?

Don't be surprised if enrollment hits an all-time high this fall. As UTA is proving, opportunities yield prosperity.

— Mark Permenter, editor


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