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Mary I. Gourley Foundation Luncheon

November 3, 2015

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen – thank you for joining us at the University of Texas at Arlington, and thank you for the opportunity to address you at this year’s Mary I. Gourley Foundation luncheon.  It’s an honor for me to be able to share this time in celebration of the generosity of a family that has already touched 125 students at UTA since 1996.

As president, I have the pleasure of engaging with leaders from across the Metroplex and the globe, conversing with some of the greatest minds of our time, and of having some unforgettable experiences including witnessing first-hand advances and events that will truly change life as we know it.  For me, however, none is more meaningful than seeing how the gift of education changes not just a student’s life and opens doors previously thought locked, but also having a positive and undeniable effect on a family and the community, making dreams of a better future truly a reality.  A single scholarship has the power to change generations and we have seen this happening every day at UTA.

This fall we experienced record enrollment of over 37,000 Texas-based degree seeking students, and by the end of the academic year we expect to have served close to 55,000 degree-seeking students through our on-line and on-campus offerings – figures that tell me our young people are hungrier than ever before for the chance to better themselves, to make their mark, and to conquer the world.

At UTA, they learn from the best of the best, from faculty who are renowned nationally and internationally.  As an example, of the 30 members of the National Academy of Inventors currently teaching and conducting research in the state of Texas, 10 – or one-third of the total – are doing so at UTA.

We are ever aware of our responsibility to all who wish to work hard for the promise of a better future through higher education; and we are proud to emphasize our focus on access and excellence while keeping it affordable for all who are willing to work to attain that goal.  In the last academic year, we awarded 10,564 degrees awarded at the Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral levels making us the third largest generator of highly skilled intellectual capital in the state.  Our degrees come from across our colleges providing the Metroplex and Texas with a work force and talent that is second to none.

I would like to offer special thanks to Foundation President Robert Albritton and members of the Board of Directors, the Foundation staff, and the Scholarship Committee members for their time and effort in awarding the scholarships. The work they do, the time and commitment they expend in making these awards possible, helps ensure that deserving students gain a top-notch education, better their future and that of their families and community, and through that, make the world a better place for all of us. Thank you for your faith and trust – thank you for enabling the promise of a future.

To the scholarship recipients, our students whose accomplishments we celebrate today - what will you do with this gift you have been given – the gift that enables you to pursue the promises resulting from higher education? Will you invent a life-saving medical procedure, heal thousands of people across the globe, design a city that is entirely sustainable, design the next generation mode of energy efficient transportation, write the next great American novel or direct the next Oscar-winning film? Whatever your talent or skill or destiny, you now have a responsibility to use this gift from the Mary I. Gourley Foundation wisely.  Better yourself everyday, reach for the stars, change your life and that of those around you. 

As you venture into the world today, tomorrow, and then in a few years with that piece of paper that signifies the attainment of a degree and the promise of a better life, remember to return the favor by helping another young mind – maybe not born yet, fulfill their own dreams just as the Gourley Scholarship has helped you.  Your success should lead to that of others – a cycle of trust and the promise of a better future, fueled by generosity and faith – a cycle initiated in your case by the Foundation that I hope you will not only continue, but expand.

Thank you all for being here and for your support of UTA and our wonderful students.