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General Motors-LULAC Grant

February 6, 2016

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen – on behalf the more than 50,000 students at the fifth most diverse university in the nation and the latest addition to the elite list of research-1 universities in the state of Texas and the nation – welcome to The University of Texas of Arlington. 

Let me specially welcome State Representative Alonzo, a true and long-time friend of UTA and one of the original drivers of CMAS, Mr. Roger Rocha and Brent Wilkes of LULAC, thank you for your vision and partnership, and welcome to the many other dignitaries who are here today. Your presence is significant not just as part of the celebration of the LULAC-GM grant to UTA, but also as a strong signal of the critical need to enhance STEM education in the United States and to ensure that Latino students are in the forefront as we build the pipeline of talent that is critical to the future of this great state and the nation.

It gives me great pride to be able to say that UTA is not only the highest profile Hispanic Serving Institution in North Texas but it also graduates the maximum number of STEM graduates in the region. We house the third largest comprehensive College of Engineering in the state, enrolling more than 7,500 students, and the largest College of Nursing and Health Innovation, only the second in the state of Texas to be designated as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing. 

Over the past few years you have undoubtedly heard of the critical importance of preparing students for careers in STEM fields so that we can gain the social, economic and national security benefits that accrue from leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  It is no exaggeration to state that workforce demands over the next decade will require the U.S. to increase the number of students receiving degrees in STEM fields by 34 percent annually over current rates.

UTA is addressing just that need with aggressive plans with the College of Engineering having grown 47 percent since 2013, with the University exceeding the state’s “Closing the Gaps” goal of producing baccalaureate graduates in STEM fields at 136 percent of the target while simultaneously exceeding targets for computer science, math, physical science and nursing graduates at 576 percent, 114 percent, 108 percent and 207 percent of the respective targets. We are not only focused on creating a highly qualified set of human capital, but also a well-prepared workforce.

UTA is committed to growing the STEM pipeline while simultaneously focusing on enhancing opportunities and support for students from the Latino community and our Center for Mexican American Studies (CMAS) led by Prof. Zlolinski, enabling a very high level of success.  Our GO centers, the University Crossroads program in Dallas, the STEM Academy at Martin High School in AISD, the GK-12 STEM fellows initiative, the TexPrep initiative, the Math Emporium in the College of Science, our UTEACH program, and many others underline our commitment to these dual goals – to support our community and to ensure that our students are well prepared to not only transform their own lives but also those of their families and the community. 

The LULAC-GM grant awarded to CMAS adds another enabler to this list, enhancing engagement and performance through technology, and I’m deeply appreciative of GM and LULAC for selecting UTA to serve in this role. The grant will ensure that we continue to focus on both ends of the supply and demand pipeline in STEM, enabling a diverse and talented set of students to get a strong foundation in STEM thereby preparing them for high value and demand careers. This is a step, but just the first in what I’m hoping will be a bigger, stronger, partnership focused on our future. Technology is driving positive impact for our community and the future.

As an engineer myself, I can attest to the vistas that are opened through a STEM education, enabling one to not just be a spectator or passenger but a driver and explorer, maker, inventor and doer who will lead the world of tomorrow. This is an exciting future for our students and you just made it all the more accessible. Thank you for your faith in us and in the seeds of the future – our students. Your investment and faith paves the way for a better tomorrow.  Thank you.