Skip to content. Skip to main navigation.

Faculty Promotions Dinner

October 12, 2017

Good evening.

Universities tend to have a lot of traditions. Some of these are symbolic and are based on the celebration of milestones and achievements. Others represent transitions and stages in our lives as academics, while still others are remnants of an age and time long past. I am honored this evening to be with you to celebrate one of the most important milestones in an academic career – the celebration of the awarding of tenure and promotion. This is special not just because it marks the attainment of a milestone in a faculty member’s academic career, but rather because it celebrates change and acknowledges the necessity of academe to periodically re-energize its membership and sense of purpose, enabling an institution to continue to evolve to ever greater heights of excellence in the development, dissemination and transformation of knowledge.

The reputation, and in fact the future, of an institution of higher education is determined by the quality of its faculty. The assessment of this quality is completed through a rigorous process that goes through multiple levels of reviews, internal and external, by faculty colleagues and administrators. The process is unique to academia because faculty are the university’s primary asset and decisions made to provide tenure or to promote them are perhaps the most far reaching decisions made by the academic community.

As we congratulate you, it is also fitting that we acknowledge and thank those who have supported, encouraged and even guided you along the way. Career milestones such as tenure and promotion are rarely achieved in isolation. So if you are a family member of an honoree, or a mentor, thank you for the support you provided, for your patience, for the hours, days, weeks and years that you sacrificed so that the academic in your family could achieve success, and for the role you played in enabling success. With your permission I’d like to take a personal moment as well to acknowledge and thank my wife, Lisa, for all that she has done through my tenure and promotion processes and my climb up the academic ladder – I know it hasn’t been easy – thank you for your love, patience and support.

As we consider the depth and breadth of expertise of tonight’s honorees, we immediately recognize that here, in this room, is the source of the momentum behind UTA’s growing international reputation. Your commitment to excellence and your dedication to ensuring that our students receive a transformative education are the driving force behind the university’s increasing levels of excellence in scholarship, publishing and creative activity, research expenditures, accolades and student success. You lead the way in developing new knowledge and solving the world’s most pressing problems, enabling us as a society to imagine a world far different from the one in which we live – one where a cure for cancer has been developed, where technology is used to assist and benefit the human condition, where urban metropolitan areas such as the one we live in are sustainable, where world hunger and poverty have been eradicated, where man lives in harmony with the environment without creating a negative impact, where natural resources are treasured, where data is used for good and the enhancement of knowledge, and one where different races and cultures coexist in harmony.

David Ogilvy, the founder of Ogilvy and Mather, and known as the father of advertising was known to remark that, “If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” This is definitely true of tenure and promotion. The standards by which we measure each person must necessarily exceed the very standards by which we ourselves were judged in the past. Ever increasing levels of excellence are what frame the success of this university.

Today, we are better than we were last year, more focused on student success, on the development of new knowledge, on the furthering of research and engagement with the community. Today, due to the efforts of our faculty we continue to accelerate on our journey to be one of the “best of the best” and the model 21st Century Urban Research University.

As we celebrate your attainment of a milestone, I hope each of you is inspired to continue to dream, to reach for the stars, and strive for what others may have thought impossible to attain. For many of us the achievement of a career milestone results in celebration but also a lot of deep self-questioning about the future. Now that one has received tenure, or attained the rank of a full professor, what does one do next? What targets does one have to keep one running at the same pace, or even faster and performing at a higher level of excellence? What should one look for as one plans for the future?

I’d like to leave you with the words of an athlete and three-time Olympian, Gail Devers, who when asked about next steps said, “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”

I have faith in each of you and believe that the celebration today is just a beginning and that we have just seen a small glimpse of the excellence yet to come, of the impact each of you will leave not just on your professional fields but through your teaching, scholarship and service, on generations of students and through them on a global community.

Congratulations again on your achievements. Thank you for being the light that shines brightly forward, the star that resets our direction towards even greater heights of excellence and thank you for being Mavericks.