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Spring Faculty and Associates Meeting

April 25, 2017

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you for being here. Let me at the very outset convey to you best wishes from our Interim Provost, Dr. Ron Elsenbaumer, who is out on travel and from our new Provost, Dr. Teik Lim, who will be joining us in July. I’d like to thank the search committee for recruiting an outstanding and deep pool of candidates and then bringing tremendous finalists to campus.  I am confident that Dr. Lim will be a wonderful addition to the Maverick family and I look forward to working with him as we continue on our aggressive and accelerated journey to being the model 21st Century Urban Research University – setting standards for others to follow.

It is the growing reputation of our institution that has enabled us to recruit faculty over the past year from leading institutions across the nation and the world. To those of you still in your first year at UTA – I hope the transition has been smooth and that you have come to love this great institution as much as I have.

It is hard to believe how quickly this academic year is drawing to a close. This has been a year of significant achievement – in the classrooms, in our labs and studios, on the fields of play, and in the community – both local and global. I can barely count a week when a faculty member was not being honored by a professional award; the university, a college, department or program achieving a new high in rankings; a student or student team winning a competition; an athletic team or student-athlete reaching a new height of performance including a championship; or an alumnus being lauded for excellence.  There is much for which we can all be very proud.

But most of all I am proud of you – our faculty and associates who have made it possible for the University of Texas at Arlington to be renowned as an institution of IDEAS – known for innovation, celebrated for diversity, gaining a reputation for being a national leader at bridging excellence and access, and being acknowledged for the role it plays in ensuring student success. So let me thank each of you for what you do every day, for your dedication to our students, and for the efforts you make to ensure that they not only receive the very best educational experience possible but that they leave our halls ready to make a global impact. 

Thank you for ensuring that the scholarship of teaching and learning thrives in our classrooms and through your interactions with our students and each other. Thank you for ensuring that your research is not only uncovering the fundamental mysteries of the universe but is also leading to impactful discoveries that create new technology and cure diseases. Thank you for ensuring that the arts are showcased at our institution and that the joy of creative activity is made known to our students, and thank you for ensuring that scholarship – the true development of knowledge – is thriving at UTA.

Today, we celebrate your achievements in teaching, research and creative activity. We also look to the future through awards of faculty development leaves and research enhancement program grants which, I’m confident, will lead to tremendous advances in scholarship, teaching excellence and research endeavors. These, in a small way, add to an investment in the future of our institution, enabling us to not only provide time and resources for focused efforts but to also enable the recharging of batteries (so to speak), ensuring that we continue to build on the tremendous momentum that is defining our drive for ever higher levels of excellence.

Just as we initiated research enhancement program grants and the interdisciplinary research program over the past two years, this year we initiated a new set of awards – the UTA Presidential Research Fellows. The inaugural class of five was announced earlier today. This award is focused on enhancing collaborative and cross-disciplinary research in pursuit of our Strategic Plan and not only provides resources over a two year period but also includes a special Summer Institute that I hope will lead to many new ideas and initiatives on campus. I’m also pleased to announce the initiation of a new award for innovation in teaching – started this year with a two-year award to Professors Schug and Foss who will be focusing on re-envisioning the curriculum in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry focusing on the value of discovery and enquiry. I hope to build on this with additional awards next year.

Ceremonies such as the one we are at right now capture the very essence of the University, paying tribute to the best of the best – the philosophers who transform information into knowledge, the “learned men and women” who not only create new knowledge but, more importantly, pass it on to our students, and the experts who formulate policy and devise solutions to the nation’s most vexing problems.

A university is defined by its faculty and staff, and UTA is clearly representative of an institution made up of teacher-scholars, and dedicated staff, including some of the very best in their disciplines across the globe. You represent a tremendous depth and breadth of expertise across the curriculum as evidenced by increasing levels of publishing and creative activity, student success, research expenditures, accolades and enhancement in reputation. Many of you are being honored today as outstanding teachers, peer-mentors, and academic advisors who have the precious gift of being able to guide students and junior colleagues forward on their path to success. It is a great privilege to call you my colleagues. We celebrate your individual achievements today, but we also honor those who won awards in previous years for we stand on their shoulders on our journey to ever higher levels of excellence.

Visionary, yet practical, drawing strength and perspective from the arts, humanities and social sciences as well as science, technology, and the professions, building on partnerships – across campus, the Metroplex, region, nation and globally, open and accessible to the brightest minds across the globe and fueled by a desire to be the best, to have a meaningful impact – that is and will be UTA. And you make it possible. Congratulations on your achievements and thank you for all you do for our students, for UTA and for the communities we serve.