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UTA Parent and Family Weekend

October 24, 2015

Good evening everyone. Welcome, or rather, welcome back to Maverick Country.  I met some of you during Move-In Day just a few months ago, and others at various events on campus.  To those I have not met as yet – I’m looking forward to doing so.  And to those of you who are already UTA alums with your children now attending your alma mater – welcome back.  There is no greater recognition of a person’s pride in a university than entrusting that which is the most cherished to us – their children.  Thank you – we are building a university beyond comparison on your shoulders.

All of you mean so much to us at UTA.  Whether you are parents, siblings or other members of the family – you have an intrinsic connection to our campus through the young woman or man from your family who is now a student here.  You are therefore a member of the Maverick Family.

Despite the rain, I hope you and your children are enjoying this weekend together, learning more about your Maverick's home away from home. Whether you are the parent of a first semester freshman, a final semester senior, or a graduate student, we share in your pride for their accomplishments and for their unlimited potential. At UTA they can not only spread their wings but also master flight.

Our students could not be at UTA at a better time.  We are a unique institution with a commitment to both excellence and access, while ensuring affordability.  We encourage innovation as we create generations of life-long learners within Texas and across the globe. In fact just this Thursday we hosted the 2nd annual Innovation Symposium that brought together school children in a competition, a showcase of innovative students and faculty on campus, and a series of panels showcasing top innovators and technologists including our alums.  We are the University of IDEAS – innovation, diversity, excellence, access, and student success.  We aspire to be the University that sets standards for others to follow, to being the model 21st Century Urban Research University.

And this is due to the wonderful people who work at the University – many of whom are here today.  They are hosting your tables as well reaching out to envelope you in our family.  Could I ask all members of the UTA faculty, staff and administration to please stand so that they can be recognized?  Thank you for all you do to ensure that our students receive the very best experiences – inside and out of the classroom.

Through the semester, based on what our students have told you and from the news you’ve read, I hope you’ve had an opportunity to learn more about this exciting university and the exceptional opportunities that our students are experiencing.  We are a university on the rise, advancing in national and international stature. 

Allow me to share just a few numbers with you

  • 55,000 – that’s the total number of degree seeking students that we expect to serve at UTA through on-line and on-campus degree programs by the end of this academic year, making us as big or bigger that UT Austin;
  • 37,008 – that’s the number of Texas based students being educated at UTA making us one of the largest campuses in the state of Texas;
  • 25,000 – that’s the number of non-degree seeking individual that we expect to assist through our professional and continuing education programs as part of our commitment to meeting workforce needs in the Metroplex;
  • 10,564 – that’s the number of degrees awarded at the Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral levels last year making us the third largest generator of highly skilled intellectual capital in the state;
  • 13 – that’s the number of our faculty in the National academies of Engineering, Inventors, and Science– the highest level of academic recognition in the United States. We have one member in the National Academy of Science, two in the National Academy of Engineering, and 10 fellows in the National Academy of Inventors, our faculty are among the very best.  I note with pride that in the area of innovation, exemplified by membership in the National Academy of Inventors, UTA accounts for fully one third of all fellows in the state of TX and has the second highest number in the nation;
  • 5 – We are ranked fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity, according to U.S. News & World Report, the highest profile Hispanic-serving institution in North Texas, the only institution to be awarded the HACU outstanding member institution award in its first year of HSI designation, and the only four-year university in North Texas to receive a 2015 Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program grant.  The $2.62M award will fund the aptly named IDEAS Center – focused on innovation as a resource to increase graduation and retention rates among Hispanic and lower-income students;
  • 2 - One of only a handful of US universities to receive two GAANN awards from the Department of Education in 2015 totaling over $1.5M to provide scholarships to graduate students in areas of national need; and
  • 1 – the ranking we are aiming for in our quest to be THE model 21st century urban research university

Many of our academic programs – including Engineering, Nursing, Social Work, Business, and Architecture – are ranked nationally.

  • We are ranked No. 3 in agile software development;
  • Our graduate public administration programs are ranked 4th in the online category and 12th in the on campus category;
  • Our College of Nursing and Health Innovation is ranked No.7 in the nation for online programs, and was recently designated a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing – only the second in the state of Texas;
  • Our graduate taxation program is ranked No. 8 in the nation;
  • Our online Masters for Social Work Program is ranked 12th in the nation, and just this week our graduate program was ranked 10th in the nation based on input from students themselves. There are few better judges of our excellence than those who have recently graduated or are still studying towards that degree;
  • We host the 13th ranked landscape architecture program; and
  • Our College of Engineering jumped 12 ranks on the list of graduate programs in an environment where moving upward by 1 or 2 steps is considered a major achievement.

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 our students are the drivers and catalysts for this.

Our success is ultimately measured through our alumni – now over 200,000 strong, with proud graduates from all over Texas, the United States, and across the globe calling this their alma mater.  It’s a wonderful family, one whose members have had tremendous successes in their careers, standing like beacons for others to follow. Our graduates work in fields as diverse as they are:  they design houses and airplanes, practice nursing, law, and medicine, are leaders in education, are professional musicians and artists, and run cities and the nation as public officials, and their own companies as leaders of industry.  The ranks of our famous alumni range from

  • actors such as Lou Diamond Phillips and Morgan Woodward;
  • leaders of industry such as Kelcy Warren, Chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Teresa White – President of Aflac USA, Fred Perpall – CEO of the Beck group, one of the worldwide top 250 contracting firms, Bruce Tanner – Executive Vice President and CFO of Lockheed Martin, and Eric Smith - CFO of Deutsche Bank Americas;
  • leaders in service to the region and nation such as Congressman Joe Barton and State Senator Royce West, County Judge Glen Whitley, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen, Frisco Mayor Maher Maso;

and a host of others.  In the years to come I’m confident that many of our students here today will attain equal or even greater levels of success.

We are a research university and a comprehensive one.  It’s a university where the best minds from different disciplines interact together on a daily basis, providing the best possible educational experience both in and out of the classroom.  This is a place that welcomes students interested in science and technology, nursing and business, as well as those who are passionate about the arts, the social sciences and humanities.  This means that there is a path for every student - and more to the point, for YOUR child - to achieve their dreams. 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 programs, our people and our passion to achieve. 

Today I hope you’ve had the opportunity to see and hear of some of our achievements, and tonight you’ve already heard and will be hearing from our talented students such as the A Capella Choir.  Did you know that of all the music programs in Texas, in June of this year our choir was picked by the Rolling Stones to appear with them on stage at their concert at AT&T stadium – their only show in the state? Now that’s excellence and I’m proud of our program and our students from whom you will hear today.

You’ve already heard some of our students from the Jazz program – and it’s a program that’s gaining inter-national recognition.  From the main stage at the Main Street Fort Worth arts festival to Rheine, Germany, Kobe, Japan and most recently Hawaii our faculty and students have been electrifying not just the DFW area but the world.  Local talent – global impact – isn’t that wonderful?

And as we leave tonight we will hear from the latest addition to the high traditions of music at UTA – the Los Potrillos Mariachi, who in a very short time have moved from “start up” to a wonderful group of whom we have great expectations in the future.

I hope this visit will be just one of many to UTA. I hope many of you, especially our alums, will be back here in two weeks for Homecoming 2015.  If your son or daughter has invited you already please let my wife, Lisa, and I invite you back to Maverick country for a range of events starting November 7th and culminating on November 14th.  Highlights of the week include

  • the step show on November 7th;
  • the Maverick Speaker Series presenting Daymond John of ABC’s “Shark Tank” on November 10th;
  • the Distinguished Alumni Awards Gala on Nov. 12th;
  • the WNIT preseason tournament game between our women’s basketball team and Baylor University on November 13th.  We will be traveling to Baylor that day to support and cheer Coach Gerlich and our team and hope all of you will join us;
  • the homecoming street festival, party on the plaza and parade on November 14th; and of course,
  • the men’s basketball homecoming game and the crowning of UTA’s Homecoming King and Queen later that evening.

This is just a glimpse of events that week, and there are many more through the year at which we’d love your attendance.  Join the Parent and Family Association, come attend a sports event, a concert, a play, a Maverick Speaker Series lecture, follow us, and me, on social media, or just come visit.  You are UTA, and we want you to feel welcome and to feel proud – you are Mavericks – Maverick Moms, Maverick Dads, Maverick Uncles and Aunts, Maverick Grandparents, and Maverick siblings – THIS is your home.

Most of all, parents and family members, I thank you for your encouragement and support of your students as they journey towards excellence. I know how much your children mean to you and how much you have sacrificed to have them attend UTA. I assure you that we take very seriously our responsibilities to nurture them and help them to grow into the fulfilled, accomplished professionals you wish them to become. We are committed to doing our very best to take good care of them, focusing not only on their education in the class room, but also on their overall growth, their safety and well-being.

Thank you all for being here tonight. Enjoy the rest of the evening’s activities, and I hope to see you again very soon at UTA in Maverick Country.

Thank you.