Daniel Honored for Decade of Leadership

  • Dr. David Daniel said goodbye to hundreds of faculty members during his last day on the job, including Dr. Walter Voit, an alumnus and former McDermott Scholar who is now an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Amid celebrations, handshakes, pomp and tears, David E. Daniel officially stepped down last month as president of the University and began his new assignment as deputy chancellor and chief operating officer of the UT System.

Daniel was honored at several receptions and special events for his 10 years of service to the University — a period during which he oversaw the transformation of UT Dallas into a highly respected, competitive research institution.

“Dr. Daniel is a true visionary who really has put UTD on the world map, creating a first-class university,” said Angie Chen Button MS’80, a Texas state representative, whose district includes Richardson and other nearby communities.

Chen and other community leaders cited not only the school’s impact on students, but its positive influence on the region. Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker said the last decade has been remarkable.

“The impact that this University has had on the community, through the leadership of Dr. Daniel, has been amazing. There’s been a billion dollars’ worth of development here on this campus,” Voelker said.

Daniel has overseen tremendous campus and academic growth since he took office in 2005:

  • Enrollment at UT Dallas has increased more than 60 percent, from 14,000 to 23,000
  • The average SAT score of incoming freshmen is among the highest in the state
  • The annual number of National Merit Scholars entering as freshmen increased from 14 to 104
  • Annual giving increased from $17.4 million in 2005 to nearly $79 million last year
  • More than $1 billion has been invested in facilities, encompassing more than 3 million square feet of new or renovated space

Daniel spent much of his last day on June 30 with community leaders, supporters, faculty, staff and students at campus events. Hundreds of people crowded into the Galaxy Rooms in the Student Union building for the largest event.

Susan Daniel was also on hand throughout the day to thank the University community for providing support for her husband during his presidency and for her as UT Dallas' first lady.

I want to thank you all for being our friends, she said to the crowd gathered in the Student Union. Its been a pleasure to get to know you, and its been an honor to be part of The University of Texas at Dallas.

Sundeep Kuntimad, an undergraduate alumnus and current graduate student studying systems engineering and management, was among those who came to offer his thanks and well wishes to Daniel.

“If you consider the way he helped UT Dallas skyrocket in prestige, just think what he’ll do for the whole UT System and all the colleges,” Kuntimad said. “I felt inclined to come today, not just because of Daniel himself, but because of everything that was made possible through him. I think the whole college will miss him.”

Helen Small BS’07, MS’10, who earned her master’s degree at the age of 90, also wanted an opportunity to thank Daniel.

“He is UT Dallas,” Small said. “I told him, ‘If you do half as well in Austin as you did here, you’ll be fine.’ ”

Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, who has served as UT Dallas provost since 1994, is now serving as president ad interim. To commemorate the leadership transition, Daniel bestowed the chain of office on Wildenthal.

“UT Dallas was incredibly lucky when the powers that be and David Daniel mutually agreed that he would become our president 10 years ago,” Wildenthal said. “It would have been impossible for us to do better. I already miss him. Tomorrow, I am going to miss him infinitely more.”

Daniel said he was leaving UT Dallas with many warm memories and good friends.

“I could not have had a more rewarding professional honor than the privilege of serving as your president for the past 10 years. I feel a deep sense of gratitude and joy from the honor of having known the people who are UTD and for the privilege of being part of the UTD story,” he said.

Daniel particularly noted his appreciation for his staff and for the students.

“Of all the special people at UT Dallas, none are more special than our students. You energize and challenge us. You make us feel optimistic about the future. You’re uplifting. You’re the best,” he said.

Faculty and staff members praised Daniel’s leadership qualities.

Dr. Jennifer Holmes, professor of political science, public policy and political economy, said Daniel has been very successful in representing UT Dallas to the state Legislature and the rest of the state. And, she said, he has had a good handle on campus growth.

“It’s pretty unusual to not have major problems when you are growing 10 percent a year. But here, it’s been good. So it’s not just the growth, but managing the growth where he’s been spectacularly successful,” Holmes said.

UT Dallas Athletic Director Bill Petitt said Daniel has set the bar extremely high.

“We can compete with any of the public or private (universities) in the state. And I think we match up very well with schools across the country,” Petitt said. There’s a reason that 30,000 students want to come to school here. It’s because of the direction set by Dr. Daniel.”

Thoughts About Dr. Daniel

“He has taken the University and just moved it higher than anyone thought it could go in this short time. He’s an advocate for the University. He’s going to be sorely missed.” 

Rochelle Pena,school fiscal officer, Engineering and Computer Science, former president of UT Dallas Staff Council

“One of the things that students love most about UT Dallas is how accepting and open the administration is to our wants and needs and just hearing us out on many issues. And I think that that atmosphere is at the top, with Dr. Daniel. He’s very open to talking with students, especially student government. He’s just been so receptive to our ideas.”  

Caitlynn Fortner, student government president, junior international political economy major

“One of the best things that I notice about Dr. Daniel is that every time I see him, there’s a smile. I used to come here in the ’90s to play soccer when it was just two small buildings. It’s progressed so much in the last 10 years.”

Naser Islam,adjunct lecturer ininformation systems

“I can’t imagine having had a more effective president these last 10 years. He was very ambitious from the start and very interested in building up the school’s academic and research profile.” 

James Bartlett,professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

“We’re really going to miss him. It’s going to be very difficult to find someone so warm and receptive to student ideas.” 

Grant Branam,student government vice president

“His support for student veterans has been phenomenal. I think just the fact that the center opened in 2012 shows how the University and he have led the way for the UT System.”

Lisa McNeme,assistant director of the Veteran Services Center

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].