President Champions Growth With Commitment to Excellence
State of the University Address Celebrates Increases in Enrollment, Faculty Hires and Degree Programs
Sept. 23, 2013
President David E. Daniel said UT Dallas must maintain strict control over quality as it continues to grow.
Student enrollment growth of more than 7 percent this year brings welcome challenges to the campus as a whole, said President David E. Daniel in the annual State of the University address Wednesday.
“My concerns center around maintaining quality and our campus culture as we succeed in our efforts to scale up,” Daniel said.
Daniel said future plans for the University include continued growth of the student body to between 25,000 and 30,000; increasing tenured and tenure-track faculty to between 800 and 1,000 members; and adding critical degree programs.
“We need to be big enough to compete with the very best, but of course, we are not seeking scale alone,” Daniel said. “We’re seeking to be our very best, and in order to do that, we need to scale up the faculty, scale up the student body, add additional staff and add additional degree programs in a very intelligent and focused way.”
Faculty ranks have risen steadily since 2004 and are projected to keep rising. Complete graphics and slides from the address are on the president's Speeches and Commentary page.
Daniel said the key to the University’s success is “tackling globally significant problems that are of great interest to local employers” in one of the nation’s biggest metropolitan areas.
“We have had a 7 percent increase while college enrollment across the nation is down,” Daniel said, pointing out that the University’s most popular majors are among those fields with the greatest demand for new graduates.
Daniel highlighted the strong qualifications of the University’s newest students. The freshman class has brought in 88 more National Merit Scholars – an achievement that comes on the heels of a record number of scholars last year. Freshman retention has risen to 89 percent.
“The best and the brightest want to come here, and they want to stay and graduate,” Daniel said.
The president paid tribute to a group of ATEC students, whose animated film was met with applause when it was screened at the event.
UT Dallas’ student growth was matched by a 4.7 percent increase in the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty. The University aims to increase the number of tenured faculty by about 25 members each year. UT Dallas added 23 in FY13.
Daniel lauded the efforts of staff for attending to the details of running the University. He congratulated the UT Dallas landscaping crew for its efforts in creating a beautiful place that helps foster student learning and creates an appealing work environment.
Faculty and staff members who earned awards for excellence during the 2012-2013 year were recognized. Daniel told the audience that everything employees do is part of the creative process behind students’ successes.
“We’re here because these are places where human, creative geniuses flourish,” he said.
In fact, the stars of Daniel’s presentation were several Arts and Technology students in the audience who helped create an animated film that was presented to the standing-room-only audience. Cookies and punch, the traditional refreshments, were replaced by popcorn and candy in honor of the 2½ -minute movie’s showing. The computer-animated short about a young boy afraid of nighttime shadows in his bedroom brought the audience to appreciative laughter with its surprise ending.
Afterward, Daniel asked the students to stand as the room filled with applause.
Liza Liberman, Student Government
Dr. Murray Leaf, Faculty Senate
This year’s State of the University address was the first to include video presentations. A short feature put together by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations included interviews with students, who thanked donors for helping make their education at UT Dallas possible.
Liza Liberman, president of the Student Government Association, provided some student perspective to the address, adding that UT Dallas was often used as an example of progress and successful growth in her recent meetings with student leaders of the UT System universities.
Student Government’s goal, Liberman said, is to take the student voice and put it into action.
“Student representation is vital for any project that is going to have an effect on our students,” she said.
Rochelle Peña, who served as president of Staff Council for the last three years, emphasized the importance of communication across the staff, faculty, students and administration. She reiterated her metaphor from last year’s address, likening the staff to a human pulse.
“I want to report that the pulse of this University is pounding strong,” Peña said. Peña also introduced the newly elected Staff Council president, Paula Austell.
Dr. Murray Leaf, speaker of the faculty, encouraged the University community to be proud of its accomplishments – but not too proud. UT Dallas must continue to compete at the state and national level as competition for funding increases, he said.
“In order to keep doing what we have done, we must remember just not to relax,” he said. “Keep doing what we’re doing. Don’t say, ‘OK, now we can coast.’ Never.”