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Donor Appreciation Reception

June 27, 2016


Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen.  On behalf of the more than 54,000 degree-seeking students who attended the University of Texas at Arlington this academic year – welcome and thank you for your support. 

The efforts of our tremendously talented and dedicated faculty and staff and our wonderful students have resulted in your university reaching even greater heights of excellence this year.  Permit me to provide a few examples:

  • We were designated an R-1 “highest research activity” institution this year joining an elite group of universities in the Carnegie classification – the highest ranking for doctoral research universities in the nation;
  • Over 20 of our graduate programs, representing every single College and School, are now ranked in the very top by US News & World Report;
  • We were ranked the best four-year institution in the state of Texas and 16th in the Nation for Veterans by Military Times;
  • Our School of Social Work was ranked 10th in the list of top 25 social work schools in the country;
  • Our College of Nursing and Health Innovation was named a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing, one of only two universities in the State of Texas to have that designation;
  • In addition to having two faculty members of the National Academy of Engineering and one in the National Academy of Science, 13 of our faculty are fellows of the National Academy of Inventors – the second highest concentration at any institution in the nation and fully one-third of the number across the state of Texas.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of rankings and achievements.

We graduated 10,586 students at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral levels in the 2014-2015 academic year and we should be close to 11,000 this year, making us the third largest provider of highly skilled intellectual capital in the state.  US News & World Report ranks us as the third-largest destination in the nation for transfer students, and for the third year in the row, we are ranked fifth among national universities for undergraduate diversity. We are an institution on the move, with a steep trajectory to being one of the best in the nation, the model 21st century urban research university and the urban flagship of the UT System – and all this is because of your investment in us and in our students. Thank you for your faith and trust.

Your support has made it possible for us to transform lives. Our University represents an opportunity for each and every student to excel, to reach for the stars and achieve dreams others thought impossible, and for each and every faculty and staff member to not only impact lives through higher education in the classroom but also impact the community through research and scholarship. 

To a student like Abby Dunkin it’s the opportunity to move past crippling disabilities to not only be a part of the UTA Movin’ Mavs who won the national championship this year, but to represent the USA in Rio.  For Heather Reaves it provides the means to study hard with the goal of becoming a pediatric neuro-oncologist and have a profound impact on children and their future.  We are also the place where faculty such as Liping Tang are working to find ways of treating cancer. Jodi Tommerdahl focuses on pinpointing anger prior to acting out, and Mark Haykowsky works on developing cardiovascular health outcomes.  These students and faculty are just a few examples of those whose futures and whose work have been enabled by your generosity.

UTA is one of the very few research institutions focused on ensuring access and excellence with an emphasis on affordability.  Students tell us every day of how a UTA education, enabled through a scholarship, opened doors to their future despite what seemed like insurmountable barriers.  A degree means more than a job and a salary. It represents a bright future, one that enables excellence and impact, one that transforms the student, their families and the larger community.

Every dollar, every donor makes a difference.  In a world where state and federal support is shrinking by the minute, your support is the difference between hopes and transformational opportunities.  I am deeply grateful for all that you have done and for all that I know you will continue to do, both through your own increasing levels of support and through that of your friends and companies – who you convince to join with you in enabling ever larger numbers of students and faculty to be enabled through your giving.

Gifts are a manifestation of generosity, but when given to universities they have the power to transform lives.  In this room we are fortunate to not just have generous donors, but people invested in the community who connect their passion with action, people who see potential in the future and people who clearly recognize the ability of individuals to transform lives and in doing so shape society.  Thank you for enabling these gifts, for believing in our students and helping them along their paths to the future.  Thank you for supporting our faculty and ensuring that the brilliance of their minds benefits not just our students but the world.

You are transforming the promise of an education into reality through your faith in us and in the future that we share.  What you see tonight is the legacy of the University – both its current successes and the future of UTA and our community.  This event is a celebration of the spirit of generosity.  It is a chance for the University, our faculty, staff, and students to thank the many individuals in this room – and we thank those who are here and those who were unable to attend – for what they have done for the university as a whole and for each student.  Thank you for providing hope and having faith.  Thank you for being here, for what you have already enabled through your generosity and all that you will be doing in the future to enhance opportunities and impact future generations through your continued and growing support and generosity.

The impact of your faith and trust is us is perhaps best described in the words of Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” 

Your support and generosity is not only making lives, it is transforming families and our community, and is enabling positive changes that will leave a mark on the sands of time.  For that I am deeply grateful – thank you, and I hope you have a great evening.