October 2011

Growing Excellence, One Student at a Time

Students walking

Fall is my favorite time of year. The temperatures drop and activity on campus picks up. This fall is no exception: with more than 19,000 students, the campus is more vibrant and alive than ever. We're hosting our largest-ever freshman class, including 52 National Merit Scholars, up from 39 last year. These freshmen join 90 continuing National Merit winners, for a total of 142 this year.

UT Dallas is all about attracting world-class talent and producing educational and research results that matter. By bringing the nation's best minds to our University and city, we lay a foundation for sustained prosperity, job growth and vibrancy in our community.

Our goal is not to be the biggest university possible. Rather, it is to become the best university possible, consistent with our founders' vision of an "MIT of the southwest."

That so many academically exceptional students are selecting UT Dallas validates progress toward our goal. We are attracting an increasingly diverse student body as well, with a broad range of exemplary accomplishments in academics, service and leadership, consistent with our overall goal of excellence.

Our average SAT score for entering freshmen is typically among the highest of any Texas public university. This year's early data show that the average entering freshman SAT score for fall 2011 is 1248, up three points from last year. Nearly 39 percent of incoming freshmen graduated in their high school's top 10 percent; 75 percent were among the top 25 percent. The retention rate—the percentage of 2010 freshmen who returned this year—is 82 percent. Our four-year graduation rate has risen 10 percentage points since 2005, a major advance in a short time frame.

The nation's best, relatively small public research universities (top-ten public universities like Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, UC San Diego, and UC Santa Barbara) average 25,000 students. This is our goal: scale to a level necessary to compete with the very best while maintaining quality and impact.


This is progress, coming more quickly than anyone expected. Smart students seek us out, and we welcome them, one new face at a time. There may be no better measure of this progress than the continued rise in the quality of our students' credentials, even as more and more of them find their way here. That kind of growth in both size and quality is a sign of ongoing, building excellence. Data-driven engineer I may be, but at times like these, words and numbers can hardly convey the pride and optimism I feel about creating the future we have envisioned. There's only one thing left to say: UTD, WHOOSH!

UT Dallas

About This Newsletter

The President’s Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, president of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the University.