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VP Dispatch

A Year of Challenges

UTA research responds to the pandemic, leadership changes

James P. Grover

James P. Grover. Illustration by Lara Tomlin

The year 2020 was one of great challenges and of great accomplishments. The challenges were clear—the once-in-a-century pandemic of a novel disease, a long overdue reckoning with racial justice, and changes in the senior leadership of UTA.

But the year 2020 was also one of innovations. Researchers at UTA pivoted to investigate the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and novel technologies for its detection, protection, and treatment. We repurposed part of the North Texas Genome Center to support a COVID-19 testing facility for students, where murals of masked students now memorialize this historic experience.

As this research proceeded under guidelines to protect health and safety, we continued to rise in stature. For the second consecutive year, we exceeded the metrics required for designation as a National Research University by the state of Texas. Upon confirmation of this achievement, UTA will receive additional funding to invest in research, innovation, and economic development.

The year 2021 has begun with a strong trajectory, and trends in research funding and productivity promise another record-breaking year for UTA. More important, we have new directions. The building under construction for the School of Social Work and the Smart Hospital will support approaches to health care that consider the whole patient and their community. In renewing the University’s strategic plan, a fifth research theme—Cultural Understanding and Social Transformations—was added to catalyze work on equity and inclusion as unprecedented changes in society continue. We also launched the new Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Innovation, which connects students and faculty with the regional ecosystem for economic development. The center will foster a vibrant atmosphere for those who drive to innovate, commercialize new technologies, and pioneer new companies that will impact our North Texas communities and the global economy for decades into the future.

UTA has long been a university on the rise, with growing national and global visibility—a trajectory that last year’s trials have not interrupted.

Go Mavericks,
James P. Grover
Vice President ad interim for Research

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