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UT Arlington Distinguished Alumni Awards

November 21, 2014 

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s a privilege to share this evening with you.

To those who are alums of this great institution, welcome back. We are honored to have you return to your alma mater.

To those who work here – welcome, and thank you for what you do for this University every day.

To those who are here as friends and supporters, welcome to the model 21st century urban research university – a place where excellence is defined and standards are set for others to follow.

In every way, tonight is a celebration of Maverick spirit, personified. The more you get to know our distinguished alumni, both the ones we honor today and those we have honored in the past, the more you’ll recognize not only what sets them apart but what ties us together – a spirit of innovation, an unquenchable drive, and personal standards of excellence that inspire and motivate others.

These are individuals who are not only at the top of their professions but who also define the phrases “high achievers,” “public service” and “giving back.” They serve as shining examples of what UT Arlington enables through the educational experience it offers, and what our alumni are capable of doing in making this world a better place.

Tonight, we recognize six alumni who join this elite group of individuals. You heard from a few of those past recipients in the video, and there are others who are with us tonight.  Could I ask all past Distinguished Alumni Awardees to please stand and be recognized.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is UT Arlington – represented by its very best. You are indeed pillars of the community and standard bearers for Mavericks everywhere. We are all very proud of you.

As we consider the depth and breadth of their influence, we immediately recognize that they are an important part of the momentum behind UT Arlington’s growing international reputation. Great athletes, talented artists, pioneering engineers and scientists, leaders of industry, and public servants – the one commonality is that they are all alumni of this great institution.

This momentum is further accelerated and strengthened by over 41,000 currently enrolled students, making us the second largest campus in the UT system and among the five largest in the state.

But it’s not just growth that we are achieving; it’s also student success. More than 9,700 students graduated last year. Put in other terms, about a quarter of our student population graduates every year joining the ranks of our distinguished alumni.

And I’m reminded that the size of our graduating class almost equals the total student population of two well known and highly reputed private universities in the Metroplex that people like to point to as related to excellence – their total population is equal to our graduating class. Now that’s impact.

Additionally, UT Arlington’s degree-production ratio continues to be the highest of all institutions in the UT system – I repeat – the highest, bar none. We should justifiably be proud of our commitment to ensuring both excellence and access. This is what the very best public Universities aspire to – access to excellence that enables transformation of the world; Lincoln's living legacy — the triumph of human potential, merit over class and status.

We also awarded 225 doctoral degrees, exceeding the goal of 200 for Ph.D production at Tier One research universities and thus fulfilling one more metric in our drive towards meeting the standards established by the State of Texas through the National Research University Fund.

UT Arlington alumni are a powerful force. Over 120,000 alumni live in North Texas alone, and I see evidence of that every day. Leading Fortune 500 companies, serving on boards of directors; leading civic groups; in schools, laboratories, universities, nonprofits and the corporate world. Everywhere, I see Mavericks who are not only making a difference, but are setting the pace, leading by example, enabling excellence.

On campus, we’re making a difference every day too. All told, our dedication to quality – in the classroom, in labs, on the courts and playing fields – is a sum derived through the excellence of our faculty, students and staff.  In terms of academic and research excellence, UT Arlington continues to attract pre-eminent faculty to advance our mission of becoming an internationally recognized research institution. Our ranks now include one member of the National Academy of Sciences, one member of the National Academy of Engineering and eight members of the National Academy of Inventors.

I can say without hesitation that this is an institution of unlimited opportunities and boundless potential. It’s an institution that in the last year has received innumerable plaudits – Best in the West, Best for Vets, fifth among national universities for undergraduate diversity, 2014 Outstanding HACU member institution, and numerous ranked programs in our schools and colleges. I will not list any since there are so many that are among the very best, and just a sampling would keep you here for hours.

This is UT Arlington – diverse, innovative, 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.

So as we celebrate the accomplishments of tonight’s honored guests, we are inspired by them to continue to dream, to reach for the stars, to chart new directions, and strive for what others may have thought impossible to attain – for ourselves and for UT Arlington.

One of my favorite authors Richard Bach said: “You’re never given a dream without also being given the power to make it come true.”

UT Arlington has a dream: It is surpassing Tier One and being among the very best. It’s being the model 21st century urban research university. And you, our alumni, are a large part of the power that can make it come true.

Thank you.