Growth, Greenery and Greatness:  State of the University ‘Outstanding’

President David E. Daniel

UT Dallas President David E. Daniel described unprecedented UT Dallas successes in research, fundraising and student growth.

Superlatives peppered President David E. Daniel’s State of the University speech as he described unprecedented UT Dallas successes in research, fundraising and student growth.

Harnessing growth, diversifying faculty, and increasing graduation rates in critical fields such as science and engineering topped the list of issues to be addressed.

The event, now an annual tradition that includes elected leadership of the faculty, student government, and staff, began three years ago.

Online: Full Text of the President’s Speech

Dr. Murray Leaf, speaker of the Faculty Senate, opened the event with remarks noting that in the past, UT Dallas’ president reported annually to faculty, staff and students in separate meetings.

“When Franklyn Jennifer was president, he thought the address was such a good idea that he should also provide one for staff and another for students,” Dr. Leaf said. “The addresses were intended to respond to the slightly different concerns of the three groups, but in fact they were more or less the same, and this is an opportunity for the president to address the entire campus community.”

President David E. Daniel

President David E. Daniel

Rochelle Peña, president of the UT Dallas Staff Council, thanked the approximately 400 attendees for their support of Staff Council initiatives and fundraisers to create scholarships.

“You have bought our balloons and poinsettias, and returned your empty ink cartridges, and in doing that, you have been providing funds for your fellow staff members to return to school to complete their degrees, or add new training,” she said. “Our scholarship program helps UT Dallas employees improve their education through academic or vocational pursuits.”

Murray Leaf

Faculty Senate Speaker Murray Leaf

President of Student Government B. Sharkey Andrews described several student-led initiatives and achievements, including volunteer community service and upcoming programs.

“In the spring will be the fourth annual I ♥ UT Dallas health fair, partnering for the second year with Delta Epsilon Psi in a 5k Dash for Diabetes,” she said. “We hope to engage not only our students, but invite our faculty, staff, and community to participate as we celebrate and strive for measures in good health.”

Rochelle Pena

Staff Council President Rochelle Peña

Following Andrews’ remarks, Daniel stepped onto the stage and described the current state of the University on Tuesday afternoon in one word, “outstanding,” even as he tempered enthusiasm with his priorities for the coming years.

He began his speech with an anecdote about a student who received word of his admission to medical school via a personal visit from a recruiter from an out-of-state medical school – a rare occurrence reserved for only the top applicants – as evidence of the value of education students receive at UT Dallas.

“This story says a lot about who we are as a University and what we value,” he said. “We graduate truly distinguished and distinctive men and women.”

He continued his presentation with another story about the excellence of not only faculty, but also staff who strive to provide the best service to those on campus.

Stepping out from behind the lectern frequently, Daniel volunteered to answer questions from a handful of people following his presentation.


Student Government President Brittany Sharkey Andrews

Questions ranged from whether the University will place a limit on where bicycles are allowed on campus to details for plans to increase minority enrollment and graduation rates while moderating enrollment growth. A question regarding how neighbors regard the new landscaping near campus elicited a ripple of laughter when Daniel described how bushes planted near the Campbell Road entrance were selected and placed with the intention of creating ”visual mystery” once they are fully grown. “Right now, however, we do frequently hear, ‘What’s the deal with those rows of little bushes?’” he said. “We bought small ones to save on initial cost. When they’re fully mature, that’ll represent $3 million worth of growth—an excellent cost savings.”

On a more serious note, Daniel urged continued innovations and outlined goals that will be vital in keeping UT Dallas a leader in an increasingly competitive world.

“The world is a more globally competitive place than ever. I don’t want our country or our graduates competing on the basis of being the lowest-wage economy,” Daniel said. “Our competitive strength needs to be based in having the most creative ideas, and possessing the executional strength to develop businesses and jobs around those ideas.”

Murray Leaf, President of Faculty Senate

Rochelle Pena, President of Staff Council

Brittany Sharkey Andrews, President of Student Government

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