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UTA Day at the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo

January 24, 2016 

Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to UTA Day at the Rodeo. What better way to celebrate our being the public research university of Tarrant County than to meet with alumni, friends, and supporters in Fort Worth—a city with which our University has significant ties—from our faculty and staff who stay here, to the many students who come to UTA from Fort Worth schools and TCC and, of course, two great public servants and our alumni—Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. I’d also like to acknowledge and thank members of our host committee Bob and Cathy Estrada, Shirlee and Taylor Gandy, Randy Gideon, and Mayor Price.  Not only have they helped host today’s event, they have welcomed Lisa and me to the community and served as a tremendous source of support and friendship. I should also let you know that Bob and Shirlee were responsible for my being here – they were on the search committee that brought me to UTA and provided this wonderful opportunity to serve this great institution.

UTA is a tremendous institution. Ranked fifth three years in a row now among national universities for undergraduate diversity by U.S. News & World Report, UTA was ranked number one in the state of Texas by Military Times and number 36 in the nation in the Best for Vets list.

From our College of Nursing and Health Innovation, which was recently designated as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing—one of only 12 in the nation in 2015 and the only one in the UT System, to our College of Engineering which is now ranked in the top 100 nationally at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and the College of Education that was ranked 30th nationally by U.S. News & World Report for its online graduate programs and number two on the list of Value Colleges for its graduate degrees, our programs and colleges are ranked nationally among the very best. 

The effect of our growing reputation is seen in the growth of our student population as more of the best and brightest from the Metroplex, the state of Texas, across the U.S. and over 100 countries across the globe now attend UTA. With over 38,000 Texas-based students registered for Spring semester and over 51,000 degree-seeking students globally, we are growing at a tremendous pace. We expect to end this academic year with a degree-seeking student population of close to 55,000, which will allow us to soon say that the second largest campus in the UT System is – UT Austin. Now that is an achievement we can all celebrate.

But it’s not just our incoming students. We graduated 10,564 students in the 2014-15 academic year, which ranks us as the third highest in the state just behind UT Austin and Texas A&M, who have colleges and schools such as law, medicine, veterinary, pharmacy and others that we do not have.  If one wants to talk about impact on intellectual capital and generation of a highly skilled workforce there is no better example than UTA. And our students are distinguishing themselves at the highest levels—three Goldwater Scholars in recent years, and teams winning national and international competitions.

Our faculty are among the very best in the world.  Just last month, three of our faculty were named to the National Academy of Inventors, giving us 13 fellows across our Colleges of Engineering, Science, and Nursing—the highest total by far in the state of Texas and the second highest of all universities in the United States. Add to this two members in the National Academy of Engineering and one in the National Academy of Science, and the many who are leaders in their fields with international reputations being funded through highly competitive grants and contracts from agencies such as the NSF, NIH, DOE, NASA, ARO, and AFOSR and you have a research powerhouse. Fueled by our faculty, staff, and students, our research expenditures rose by 11 percent last year.

With our achievement of the threshold of 200 Ph.D.s for two years in a row, having three of five members in the national academies, and having attained 75 percent of the goals for research expenditure goals, the Tier 1 designation by the state of Texas is well within our reach.

Perhaps even more importantly, although unofficially since formal designation will only be provided on the 1st of February—the Carnegie Foundation has just classified us as being in the “Highest Research” category from our previous designation as “High Research”—at the same level as the very best across the US and a national recognition of Tier 1 status.

This is UTA—diverse, innovative, excelling in all we put our minds to, and first choice.  This is who we are, and this is who we aspire to be— the best of the best—setting standards that others will follow.

And we do this on the shoulders of our alumni and friends.  It is our alumni who build our reputation by what you’ve achieved since you’ve graduated and it is through your support that we are able to provide the scholarships that enable our students to reach for the stars and accomplish great things. It is through your generosity that we are able to have endowed chairs and professorships to attract and retain the very best faculty, and it is your support that enables us to provide buildings and facilities that make us the very best.  On behalf of all of us at UTA let me thank you for your support and ask that you continue to support us. Your generosity makes excellence possible and makes dreams reality. Today more than ever before, this support is critical to the future of this great institution.

Innovation, diversity, excellence, access, and student success—these are the hallmarks of an institution on the move, one on the rise—and these define UTA as the model 21st century urban research university—the urban flagship if you will, for our system.

This is an exciting time and I hope you will not just watch as we accelerate to preeminence but that you will also join us on our journey.  Thank you for being here and please enjoy the lunch and the rodeo.