While this report offers many quantitative measures of our success over the past year, these measureable outcomes are a product of many individual actions and commitments on the part of our students, faculty and staff. Achievement may be measured in numbers and on graphs, but in the end, it’s all about people.
Students are selecting UT Dallas in record numbers. This fall, we soared right past the 20,000 mark to 21,193 students, including a record 2,233 new freshmen—a 44 percent increase in the size of our first-year class. I’m often asked how big UT Dallas wants to become, and the answer is 25,000 to 30,000 students. At that point, we will be large enough to compete with the very best public research universities in America. We are well on our way there. Our steady enrollment growth is all the more remarkable when considered in the context of recent U.S. Census figures showing that higher education institutions across the country lost half a million students in 2012.
We aim to deliver a very important personal benefit to our students, alumni and their families: a solid return on the college investment. Our students not only receive their degrees from a well-ranked research institution, they graduate with less debt than most students in the country. Recent data from U.S. News & World Report shows that most UTD graduates carry no debt. Those who do carry debt carry very low amounts of it relative to graduates of other U.S. universities. This metric provides yet another indicator of what’s right at UT Dallas.
While the student body grew dramatically, markers of student achievement held steady or improved. This year’s freshman class includes 88 National Merit Scholars, the largest number in one class ever. Our freshman class average SAT score remains one of the highest among Texas public universities. These aspects of our character are important. It’s not just scale we’re working to achieve. We’re continuing to build quality.
I couldn’t be more proud of our institution and our people. We’re ahead of target in just about every measure of our plan, from growth to quality. It’s a pleasure to have such accomplishments to showcase, but the value of our work here goes far beyond our pride in institutional achievement. What our faculty and students accomplish individually is the most important ingredient to our success and to our value to our community. The world is more competitive than ever. Our city and state need the output of great research universities like UT Dallas to remain prosperous. At UT Dallas, we produce—one student at a time—the brilliant and empowered human.
Dr. David E. Daniel