Skip to content. Skip to main navigation.

Downtown Arlington Management Corporation (DAMC) Luncheon

September 22, 2016


Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.  On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of Arlington’s Carnegie R-1 University and one of the fastest growing institutions in the nation by size and reputation – welcome to the University of Texas at Arlington.

Let me start by asking you to imagine being in a city with a vibrant, walkable downtown offering a range of entertainment venues including live music and shows, museums and art galleries, top restaurants and craft breweries, adjacent to one of the nation’s pre-eminent universities, and minutes away from professional sports and an amusement park, home to an increasing number of young urban professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators.  Imagine a city that is both a technological hub and a tourist destination – filled with vibrancy and excitement. And, no – I’m not talking about downtown Denver, Chicago, Orlando or Park City, but of Arlington as the present melds into the future.

The city and its university are intrinsically tied together, geographically, historically and economically.  Over the years UTA has grown from a small college to a university of choice, serving over 54,000 students in the last academic year, being one of the largest employers in the county, and the economic engine for the region.

From our recent designation in the elite group of R-1 Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education – the definitive list for the top doctoral research universities in the nation; to being named the top school in Texas and 16th nationally for Veterans by Military Times; to having 20 graduate programs across all our schools and colleges ranked among the nation’s best by US News & World Report; being designated a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing, one of only 3 universities in Texas to have this designation; to 13 members of our faculty being named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors – the second highest of any university in the nation and over 1/3rd of those in Texas, our reputation is on the rise.

The success of a student’s academic career is measured by graduation and in the 2015-16 academic year we conferred 11,526 degrees, an increase of 8.8 percent from the previous year, continuing the trajectory of increasing conferrals for the third year in a row, matching areas of high workforce need in the state of Texas including Nursing, STEM fields, education and business.  We awarded 2,516 degrees in STEM fields including a record 1,794 in the nationally ranked College of Engineering where degree conferrals increased by 52% over the previous year responding to the critical shortage in Texas and in line with the College’s Strategic Plan growth targets.  The College of Nursing and Health Innovation continues to be the largest producer of nurses in Texas with 3,854 degrees being awarded in the disciplines of Nursing and Kinesiology.  The increase of 14% over the previous year highlights the highest levels of excellence in the College which boasts of a licensure passing rate five percent higher than the state and national average.  Through mechanisms of face-to-face and digital learning, UTA educates 64% of all RN-to-BSN students in Texas and produces 54% of all RN-to-BSN nursing graduates.  There is no doubt that we are doing our share to meet the needs of this region and the state.

In addition, the College of Business, which was just added to the highly selective international Tier 1 list for two specific programs by CEO magazine, conferred 1,605 degrees, while the College of Education graduated 1,062 highly trained teachers and administrators, a 26% increase over the previous year, as a step towards alleviating the critical shortage of teachers in the Metroplex and across Texas.

Rather than thinking of these as just degrees awarded, we need to consider the tremendous pool of highly skilled human capital, already the third largest in the state, as a valuable resource that could be induced to stay and work in Arlington, thereby further boosting the local economy.  As a community, more needs to be done to keep our students here after they graduate, building the economic vitality and vibrancy of the city.

For the fourth year in a row, UTA ranks fifth among national universities for undergraduate diversity. We are also focusing on increasing diversity at the graduate level, and our student population represents almost every state in the U.S. and over 100 countries globally.

With 1,062 bachelor’s degrees awarded to African American students, Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s Top 100 Degrees Conferred list ranked UTA first in Texas and tenth in the nation for the number of undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans. In addition we were ranked No. 1 in North Texas and No. 24 in the nation for bachelor’s degrees conferred to Hispanic Americans; No. 3 in Texas and No. 20 in the nation for total bachelor’s degrees conferred to minorities; and No. 1 in Texas and No. 31 in the nation for total master’s degrees conferred to minorities.  We are a tremendous resource for our community and the corporate entities around us.

Fall enrollment numbers indicate our continued growth and attractiveness as a university of first choice.  With 39,714 students residing in Texas for purposes of education, a 7.3% increase over last fall, and a global degree-seeking count of over 45,000 UTA is on track to surpass 56,000 students this year.

Considering current growth rates, by 2020 Arlington could very well be the home of one of the largest universities in the nation, raising in my mind both concerns (public transportation, a city and downtown environment that needs to be attractive to students and the faculty and staff that support them, infrastructure and services to assure places to stay, shop, dine and spend money) and opportunities (a vibrant downtown, increasing upward mobility and the development of a unique college town atmosphere in the middle of the Metroplex attracting entrepreneurs, innovation, and businesses).  We could well be at the center of the DFW megacity of the future – not just by location, but by economic vitality and power.  The choice is up to us but the window will not stay open for long as neighboring cities vie to attract our students, faculty and staff.

A recent editorial in the Star-Telegram perhaps emphasizes this best when it states “Austin, watch out.”  I take that to not just be a caution to the flagship of the UT system but also to Austin the city, as UTA continues to not just attract greater numbers of the very best but also graduates more who could add to the economic wealth of the region, making Tarrant county and the Metroplex the top region for economic growth in the state.

Growth in student numbers, development of new programs and an increase in rankings all stem from the tremendous faculty at UTA.  Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, faculty on the Top 100 most influential people in the world of analytical science, CAREER Award winners from the National Science Foundation – these, and many more, represent the excellence in our faculty.

To support the growth in student numbers, and our research enterprise, we have been active in recruiting some of the very best minds from academia and the corporate world.  Since late fall of 2015 we have recruited over 60 faculty, many of whom come to us from leading institutions such as the University of California-Berkeley, Rice, the University of Michigan, Penn State, and Memorial Sloan Kettering.  These are the very best young minds and they will be enriching the university family and the city. We expect to continue hiring through this year, perhaps adding another 25 or so.  Just think of it – new faculty at the university will want to stay close to their place of work with children looking for schools in the area and families spending income in the city.  As a boost to the economy this is the equivalent of the city and chamber recruiting a number of large companies.

As an urban research university we are committed to not only providing a top notch education but also to perform research and development linking discovery and technology commercialization.  Our research institute, UTARI, enables close collaboration with the corporate world and government agencies providing unique affordable solutions to complex problems.  It not only builds strong partnerships with some of the largest companies in the area but draws a number of others through its outreach.  The start-up lounge, the Shimadzu Institute and our Silicon Valley commercialization office in San Jose are just the start to the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will spread across the university and the city.  Talks are already underway though this venture to launch new companies and we hope that many in the future will be right here in Arlington.

We recognize that companies do not succeed overnight and TMAC serves to accelerate growth through delivery of hands-on business management, technology and operations solutions.  Over the past few years TMAC has helped more than 5,000 companies gain more than $2.5 billion in sales, creating or saving more than 25,000 jobs – many of which are in Arlington.

Our talented students provide a significant workforce to many of the large and small employers in the Metroplex – highly skilled, hard-working, and diverse. From discovery and inquiry to commercialization and business development, UTA is proud to be a strong contributor to the health of our community.

In addition to the award winning Pathways to College Access and Readiness program and the Bound for Success program which was initiated two years ago, we have established a STEM Academy at Martin High School and a unique Teacher Academy in AISD.

We continue to strengthen our ties to the 2-year colleges and already have very strong partnerships with TCC including a landmark agreement to enable students to move from lower division through upper division and to graduation with a degree, as though they were at one institution, through the early transfer identification program. AISD, TCC and UTA have forged a unique partnership to ensure that higher education remains within the reach of all who desire it in Arlington and Tarrant County. Right now we provide a top notch education and our students go elsewhere to live, work and spend. We need the city and community to join with us in providing the environment, public transportation, and services, to make this city the envy of others across the nation.

Over the next few years you will continue to see substantial construction on campus.  We just completed construction of the new Career Development Center, and we will break ground on the SEIR building, and start construction on a complex that will include residence halls, a new dining facility, space for off-campus students and a new parking garage. 

You’ve probably heard me say that UTA is a great institution with boundless potential.  Innovation, diversity, excellence, access, and student success – these are the hallmarks of an institution on the move, one on the rise – and these define UTA as the Model 21st Century Urban Research University – an urban flagship, if you will. We continue to think quick, think new, think big and believe that the future is not two, five or ten years away – but that the future is NOW – not just for the university but also for the city that has us at its center.  This is an exciting time and I hope you will not just watch as we accelerate to preeminence, but that you will also join us on our journey, focusing development around the university, assisting us in growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem around UTA just as it exists in Austin, Orlando, San Diego and in Silicon Valley, merging and leveraging plans and investments, as we continue to bring the city and its research university closer together, aligned for a wonderful future, with dreams that will become reality.