President Outlines Strategy of Strong, Steady Growth
State of the University Address Calls Recruiting Top Faculty and Students Essential for Tier One
Oct. 31, 2012
“We don’t need to change who we are,” UT Dallas President David E. Daniel said. “We just need to scale up to compete with the best.”
President David E. Daniel expressed confidence Tuesday that UT Dallas will reach its goal of becoming a national research university within a few years with continued growth in two areas: recruitment of stellar students and top-notch faculty.
He said steady growth – with special emphasis on maintaining the University’s quality standards – will boost all other measures that are considered markers of the nation’s best universities.
“We don’t need to change who we are, we just need to scale up to compete with the best. All other parameters will fall into place for us,” Dr. Daniel told 400 students, staff members and faculty during his annual State of the University address.
Daniel said that growth will bring new degree programs, strengthen PhD programs and continue the building boom on campus, which has transformed the look and the capabilities of the University dramatically since Daniel arrived in 2005.
The fall enrollment figures show the University’s student population continues to grow, reaching nearly 20,000, compared to 14,523 in 2006. The president said the University projects continued growth of about 5 percent a year, with the expectation of reaching about 25,000 by 2017.
Daniel pointed out that those latest statistics show women make up 44 percent of the student body, up from about 40 percent in recent years. “So guys, the numbers are looking better for you there,” he said to a flurry of laughter.
Though the overall growth in numbers of graduate students and undergraduates this year is on target, Daniel said freshmen recruitment would be a key area of focus for the University in the coming year.
The enrollment growth was matched by a more than 8 percent increase in the number of tenured and tenure track faculty, going from 454 to 493 in one year. Daniel praised those responsible for a particularly strong year in recruiting of much-needed faculty.
“For us, quality is everything. If we keep up the steady growth, we’ll be fine,” he said.
The University’s academic expansion is continuing to reshape the physical campus with new buildings and infrastructure. Daniel said he fields many requests for more space, and highlighted plans for the fourth and fifth phases of residence halls, parking structures, the Arts and Technology building and a new Bioengineering and Sciences building.
He said the University has also worked to grow with an eye for the practical needs of students on campus. Six Comet Cruiser buses, four Comet Cabs to shuttle students and the new food trucks are designed to present helpful options.
“This shows another way we care for our campus community,” Daniel said.
Daniel displayed graphs showing the University is on track to reach its goals in research funding, now at more than $90 million, and in raising funds for the University’s first comprehensive campaign, “Realize the Vision: The Campaign for Tier One & Beyond.”
The campaign aims to raise $200 million by 2014, with $127 million raised so far. He said reaching the target will take diligence and tremendous effort.
The State of the University is an annual all-campus event that began four years ago and includes presentations by the elected leadership of the faculty, staff and student government. Dr. Murray Leaf, speaker of the Faculty Senate, said the way the event has evolved shows how UT Dallas leadership has responded to growth of the institution.
“You cannot maintain quality without maintaining coherence,” Leaf said. “This cannot be run by lockstep. It happens by all of us making up our minds to make the best contributions we can make. These addresses really do help us get to where we want to be going.”
Ms. Rochelle Peña, president of the UT Dallas Staff Council, said the elements of the University function well together, much like a healthy cardiovascular system.
“The University has the students at its heart. The faculty maintain the bloodflow of knowledge to the students, but it is the staff who are the pulse who keep that heartbeat going,” she said.
Raj Dwivedi, president of Student Government, reflected on enrollment growth since he arrived on campus, saying he recently couldn’t find a seat in The Pub dining facility.
“I wondered if that would have been the case when I was a freshman,” he said. “In my mind, that’s a good problem to have.”
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