President Says University Remains on Track to Exceed Goals
In his State of the University address, President David E. Daniel said that UT Dallas has exceeded its plan to grow the size of its student body and faculty by about 5 percent a year.
UT Dallas has all the makings of a premier university, and its trajectory over the last decade shows it is closing in on that goal, said President David E. Daniel in his annual State of the University address.
“The state of the University is incredibly good,” Dr. Daniel said during his Sept. 17th speech before about 800 students, faculty and staff members assembled in the lecture hall of the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building. “Essentially all of our challenges and issues revolve around coping with that success.”
Citing the Washington Advisory Group report from 2004, Daniel said the University’s main obstacle to becoming a Tier One research institution was its size. UT Dallas has become one of the fastest-growing universities in Texas, Daniel said, and has exceeded its plan to grow the size of its student body and faculty by about 5 percent a year.
That growth has occurred without sacrificing academic standards or the qualities that have created the innovative personality of the campus, he said.
“We’re not trying to build scale just for the sake of being bigger,” Daniel said. “We are only building scale because that’s what’s necessary to compete among the best public universities in America. It must be driven by quality.”
The University’s plans include growing the student body to between 25,000 and 30,000. (Click graphic to enlarge on desktop computers)
A Tier One university garners hundreds of millions of research dollars, hires prominent faculty, awards large numbers of doctoral degrees, admits high-quality freshmen and creates an intellectual engine that spurs local economic growth and innovation.
Among the nation’s most economically productive regions, North Texas is the only one without a national research university.
Daniel said the University’s plans include growing the student body to between 25,000 and 30,000; increasing the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty members to between 800 and 1,000; adding select degree programs, especially for graduate and PhD students; increasing its research expenditures; and ensuring enough classroom space and instructional capacity.
Pacing the stage of the lecture hall, Daniel worked without a script, using a digital pointer to highlight slides packed with graphs, charts and bullet points on the University’s accomplishments and challenges.
He told the audience that it takes a team to build a great university, and focused on the accomplishments of what he called the University’s “greatest assets” — its people — from the chief academic officer and academic deans, to faculty researchers and student scholarship recipients, to staff who make a difference in the quality of campus life.
The results are evident, Daniel said.
- Early measures indicate a preliminary fall enrollment at UT Dallas of more than 23,000, an 8.7 percent increase over a year ago and a 35 percent increase over five years ago. To accommodate growing student demand, the campus has been transformed by the additions of classroom, research and housing space.
- The number of freshmen has nearly doubled in five years. The most popular majors in the freshman class include biology, computer science and engineering.
- Among the freshman class are 100 National Merit Scholars, bringing the total number of scholars at UT Dallas to 285, more than at all other UT System institutions combined.
- The number of tenured and tenure-track faculty increased 5.1 percent since fall 2013, with large numbers coming to programs in highest demand among freshmen and graduate students. For example, the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science has hired an average of 10 new tenured/tenure-track faculty members each year since 2009, outpacing its strategic goal to reach 175 faculty by 2020.
- Preliminary estimates show the University at the brink of topping the $100 million mark in research expenditures, a key metric that won’t be absolutely firm until financials for Fiscal Year 2014 are closed in November. Faculty received 129 new research awards in FY12 with a total value of $37 million, and undergraduate students received 70 new research awards, supporting the University’s commitment to providing undergraduate students with research opportunities.
Daniel also celebrated physical progress on campus, as the infrastructure continues to grow to accommodate the University’s needs. He highlighted projects completed this fall, including the University’s largest residence hall, a new dining hall and a second recreation center, a second covered parking structure and a new addition to the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Ongoing projects include a new Bioengineering and Sciences Building and enhancements to the north side of the campus mall.
The second phase of the Campus Enhancement Project will complete an effort that began in 2008 to transform the center of campus with thousands of trees, five reflecting pools, a trellis-covered plaza and park-like walkways and gathering areas. Private giving made the project possible.
Annual private giving and the number of alumni who give to the University have nearly doubled since the launch of UT Dallas’ first comprehensive campaign, Realize the Vision: The Campaign for Tier One and Beyond. The campaign has surpassed its five-year goal of $200 million even before it ends this Dec. 31. Since it began in 2009, the effort has raised more than $262 million.
Increased national media interest has also bolstered the University’s reputation, Daniel said. His presentation included a newsreel of media interviews with UT Dallas faculty experts on topics such as concussions, school bullying, cochlear implants, Super Bowl ads, texting, crowdfunding and the Ebola crisis.
Video clips that drew audience applause included a three-pointer at the buzzer that sent the men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III National Tournament, and the successful bid by two alumni on the television program Shark Tank to have their business idea backed by entrepreneur Mark Cuban.
The perspectives of faculty, staff and students also were included in the State of the University address.
Brooke Knudtson, Student Government president, said student representatives successfully advocated for extended library hours and more vegetarian dining options on campus.
“The UT Dallas standard is excellence. The quality of our standard here doesn’t just stop at education; it encompasses improving student life,” she said.
Dr. Murray Leaf
Paula Austell, president of Staff Council, outlined its role in providing a digital staff newsletter, recognizing outstanding employees and raising more than $2,500 for 10 staff scholarships.
“Our goal is continually improving the University’s operations and the well-being of all UT Dallas employees,” Austell said.
Dr. Murray Leaf, acting speaker of the faculty, said the University is committed to maintaining academic quality and integrity by not just teaching job skills but “developing people who can think, create and lead.”
Faculty, staff and students have pulled together to promote institutional excellence, he said.
“We have gotten along quite well,” Leaf said. “I’d say we have gotten along better and better over the years. This is not usual. In fact, at many institutions this would be considered unnatural.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].