RICHARDSON, Texas (Aug. 5, 2005) – Tomorrow morning, hundreds of University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) students will don their gowns and mortar boards, listen to speeches, process to the stage past colorful banners, university officials and more than a few teary-eyed relatives, accept their hard-earned degrees and move on to a new chapter in their lives.
It will be the 100th time UTD has witnessed such pageantry in the 36-year history of the university. By the time Saturday’s commencement is over, the number of degrees conferred by UTD will have swollen to 55,000.
Since its founding in 1969, UTD has evolved from a small, graduate-level institution to a highly selective, rapidly growing, comprehensive research university with a burgeoning national reputation in a number of academic disciplines, a broad assortment of innovative, interdisciplinary programs and a national champion chess team. Enrollment is now approaching 15,000 students, and the university’s degree offerings have increased to more than 100. Moreover, this year, for the first time, UTD is conferring more than 100 doctoral degrees in a single academic year.
“The 100th commencement is a milestone in the history of UTD, and we take the opportunity to recognize and celebrate it,” said university President Dr. David E. Daniel, who will speak at both ceremonies tomorrow morning. For Daniel, it will be his first UTD commencement. He became UTD’s fourth president on June 1, joining UTD from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was dean of one of the top-ranked engineering schools in the nation.
“While the number of commencements here may pale compared to the number at much older universities, UTD has come a long, long way since its founding – especially when you remember that we didn’t admit freshmen until 1990,” Daniel said. “Today, UTD has two Nobel laureates on its faculty and is highly regarded in a number of important areas -- particularly the quality of its students.
“One of the statistics of which I am most proud,” Daniel continued, “is that nearly half of UTD’s baccalaureates are first-generation college graduates. That’s impressive. And on top of that, the average SAT score of our entering freshmen – 1239 -- is the highest of any public university in Texas. UTD is fulfilling an important obligation to the people of Texas, and the contribution the university is making to the growth and success of the state – and the nation – will only grow in the years to come.”
Daniel acknowledged that because UTD is only 36 years old, it doesn’t have a great deal of institutional history. “But I see that as a challenge and an opportunity,” he said, “because, in effect, we’re creating our own history, our own traditions, each and every day. One example of that is the Freshman Convocation we are planning to hold on campus Sunday, Aug. 21. This will be something UTD has never done before, and I think it will quickly become a tradition here.
“We may not have a lot of ivy on our campus now, but give us a few years and we’ll grow some of that, too,” Daniel quipped.
Saturday’s commencement, to be held in the Activity Center, will be composed of two separate ceremonies. At 9 a.m., graduates from the School of Management and the School of Social Sciences will receive their degrees. At 11:30 a.m., students from UTD’s other five schools – Arts and Humanities, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, General Studies, Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science – will graduate. The School of Management is UTD’s largest school, followed by the Jonsson School. The university expects to confer a total of about 750 degrees in the two ceremonies tomorrow.
Before the Activity Center opened in July 1998, UTD held its commencement exercises at a variety of other venues, including the University Theatre, the UTD Conference Center, outdoors on campus, the Plano Centre and the auditoriums at Pearce High School and Richardson High School.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.