From the Desk of Dr. Richard C. Benson
Outlook: From the Desk of Dr. Richard C. Benson
October 2018
Reflecting on Our Past, Looking to Our Exciting Future
photo of Gov. Preston Smith signing House Bill 303
Gov. Preston Smith signs House Bill 303 on June 13, 1969, establishing The University of Texas at Dallas.
In June 1969, I was a newly minted high school graduate in New Jersey whose mind was filled with the range of possibilities for my upcoming studies at Princeton. Meanwhile, across the country, in front of a lone structure in the midst of a field, Texas Gov. Preston Smith was signing the bill that established The University of Texas at Dallas.

Gov. Smith, standing that day outside the Founders Building, envisioned a university that would “make educational dreams educational realities.” He said, “Dallas, with all of its attractions, has long been without the quantity of state-supported institutions of higher education that its potential of young minds so richly deserves.”

I marvel not only at the convergence of my personal path with that of this University, but also at the contrast between that point in time and the present.

For instance, UT Dallas was limited in its early years to offering only graduate education across a small number of disciplines. Today, more than 140 undergraduate and graduate academic programs attract one of the fastest-growing student populations in the nation.

Those at the bill signing could not have foreseen how the University would fill in the empty fields surrounding the Founders Building, adding 4 million square feet and $1 billion in infrastructure over the past decade alone.

Gov. Smith recognized the promise that UT Dallas represented for the economic and cultural prowess of the region. I am proud of the University’s continued emphasis to recruit culturally diverse faculty and students of the highest caliber from the beginning. Today, UTD has more than 6,000 international students representing 100 countries. Two-thirds of our alumni remain in the Metroplex, contributing to its global successes in technology and business.

It is always instructive to reflect on how far the University has come in less than 50 years. But we don’t move forward by looking back.
photo of the new Engineering and Computer Science West (ECSW) building
The Engineering and Computer Science West building opened this fall, part of the approximately $1 billion in campus development that has taken place over the past decade.
We are embracing the future long envisioned for UT Dallas. A striking example is our quick rise to be among the nation’s top research universities. UT Dallas is one of the youngest institutions designated as an R-1 doctoral granting research institution by The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Our ability to collaborate with other institutions and partner with industry increases as our research funding expands. Notably, UT Dallas has received its first allocation from the state’s National Research University Fund (NRUF), becoming one of only three universities (and the youngest) to qualify.

So, what is next for this remarkable institution? The latest Strategic Plan outlines new markers of progress, pointing to the promise of UT Dallas as an innovative enterprise. If you haven’t received a copy, contact the University’s Office of Communications or view it online.

Even though in 1969 I could not have predicted that I would one day lead this University, I can predict this: UT Dallas will once again exceed all expectations and, in doing so, will continue to have a worldwide impact.
Dr. Benson
President Richard C. Benson regularly reaches out to alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students through this newsletter. The President’s Outlook offers his insights on matters of importance to UT Dallas.
The University of Texas at Dallas