Wendell Nedderman, who was president of The University of Texas at Arlington for 20 years, died on May 8, 2019. He was 97. As the leader of UTA from 1972-92, Dr. Nedderman was a tireless advocate for the University, frequently speaking of UTA as a “positive-slope institution.” It reflected his belief that everything about the University—including its enrollment, funding, graduation rates, degree programs, and overall growth and stature—was on a permanent upward trajectory.
“Someday, we’re going to be so darn big and so darn good, we can’t be ignored,” he said.
Nedderman was the founding dean of the College of Engineering, arriving on campus in 1959 convinced that what was then Arlington State College was destined to grow, given its location between Dallas and Fort Worth. After a decade under his leadership, the engineering college became one of the largest and best in the Southwest.
“President Nedderman was an inspirational leader, far ahead of his times in his vision for The University of Texas at Arlington.”
In the late 1960s, he served in a number of key positions, sometimes simultaneously. He was dean of engineering (1959-69), vice president for research and graduate affairs (1967-68), graduate school administrator (1967-69), and vice president for academic affairs (1968-72). In 1972 he became acting president, and in 1974, president. During his two-decade tenure as president, enrollment nearly doubled, including a four-fold increase in graduate students.
UTA President Vistasp Karbhari said that Nedderman set the foundation for the University’s transition from a small local college to one of the largest and best-reputed universities in Texas.
“President Nedderman was an inspirational leader, far ahead of his times in his vision for The University of Texas at Arlington, and his passion and dedication to excellence and student success set the standard and bar high for all those who follow him,” Dr. Karbhari said. “Our University is where it is today—a national powerhouse and a leader in teaching, research, and outreach—because of the path that he set and the battles he fought for UTA. His legacy will be felt for years to come, and he will always be remembered as a giant among university leaders.”