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UTA enhances focus on global partnerships, achievement initiatives

Monday, March 5, 2018 • Media Contact: Teresa Woodard Schnyder

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Curtis Andressen

After an extensive international search, The University of Texas at Arlington announced that Curtis Andressen, a seasoned administrator with more than three decades of higher education experience, is joining the University as vice provost for international affairs. This position will focus on advancing the global reach of UTA.

Andressen most recently served as the Marubeni Chair in Social Sciences at Qatar University and was previously a faculty member in international relations at Flinders University in Australia.

In addition, Ashley Purgason has been named associate vice provost of student success. Purgason is an Arlington native who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from UTA before earning her doctorate from The University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Ashley Purgason

Purgason will oversee the University’s new Division of Student Success, formerly University College.

“These new positions are perfectly aligned with an increased focus on student success and global initiatives at UTA,” said Teik C. Lim, UTA provost and vice president for academic affairs.

He added, “Dr. Andressen’s expertise will broaden UTA’s global impact while helping us attract and retain the best and brightest international students. Dr. Purgason’s passion for student success coupled with her creative, forward-thinking nature will positively affect learning and educational outcomes for all UTA students. I congratulate both of these deserving higher education professionals and welcome them to our team.”

As vice provost of international affairs, Andressen will not only work to attract international students and build partnerships, but also partner with colleges and schools to recruit distinguished international faculty and staff and create strategic partnerships that promote globalization within the university community.

“I am honored to join The University of Texas at Arlington during a tremendously exciting time in the university’s history,” Andressen said. “This is a pre-eminent, growing institution of higher learning that is already leading in the field of international education in many ways. Innovative online offerings and strategic partnerships in Asia and the Middle East are examples of UTA’s emerging international success. I look forward to building upon what is already in place and substantially expanding our international reach.”

Andressen earned bachelor degrees in Canada from the University of Alberta, a master’s degree from the University of Victoria and a doctorate in geography from Flinders University. 

Expanding UTA’s support for international students is one facet of a University-wide enhanced focus on student success initiatives such as retention and completion. Through the Division of Student Success, UTA will be launching a uniform first-year student success course for incoming students. Registration barriers are being removed in hopes of increasing early registrations and the division will be using new text messaging applications to convey key messages to students. A new degree mapping tool has also been released to assist students in visualizing and proactively planning their degree progression.

Purgason, previously assistant vice president for strategic initiatives at UTA, was a member of the Lady Mavericks basketball team when she was an undergraduate student. In 2016, Purgason was named to the Fort Worth Business Press’ 40 under 40 list.

“I have been part of the evolution of UTA from the regional campus it was when I was an undergraduate biology student to the internationally known urban research university that it is today. I couldn’t be prouder of this institution,” Purgason said. “But with our skyrocketing enrollment, student needs are changing and we must be nimble in our response. We will develop innovative programs that have a singular focus – to help all UTA students succeed and achieve a four-year or advanced degree.”