A Conversation With Robert Rutford

Former UT Dallas President and Explorer Presided Over University Growth
in Engineering Programs, Undergraduate Education and On-Campus Housing

Dec. 7, 2009

Listen to the entire interview (Windows Media; length 29:25)

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(MP3 file)

Transcript of Interview


Hosted by: Brandon V. Webb
UT Dallas Office of Communications


“A Conversation With …” is a series of informal and unscripted visits with leading figures from The University of Texas at Dallas. From describing what an “aha!” moment feels like to explaining the moment or identifying the person that sparked a lifelong passion, these conversations meander through the minds and memories that make up UT Dallas.


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We sat down for A Conversation With... UT Dallas President Emeritus Robert Rutford.

Dr. Rutford is an Antarctic explorer and scientist of international acclaim, having been recognized with the naming of the Rutford Ice Stream and Mount Rutford, in Antarctica.  A main thoroughfare on the campus of UT Dallas was named in his honor. 

He served with distinction as president of UT Dallas throughout a very formative period during the University’s 40-year-history, 1982 to 1994. During his tenure as president, the university secured approval for a School of Engineering, added freshmen and sophomores to its student body, and built the first on-campus housing.

During our visit, Dr. Rutford shared his thoughts on:

  • The uniqueness of UT Dallas and what prompted him to seek and later accept the position of president.
  • The uphill battle to secure a School of Engineering at UT Dallas.
  • How adding freshmen and sophomores helped to advance the University and enhance its culture and diversity.
  • His lasting sense of pride on the impact he was able to make and his enjoyment watching the University thrive and prosper.

Media contact: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, brandon.webb@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Robert Rutford

President Emeritus Robert Rutford

I was looking and had interviewed at several universities, but the uniqueness of this place and the opportunity. ... When you came here then, you interviewed with Erik Jonsson and Cecil Green and the local people here. I mean, it was clear that this place had fantastic backing from the community, and not just from the local Richardson community, but from downtown as well. So I just saw it as a wonderful opportunity to become a university president. I was very happy when I was named.

—Dr. Robert Rutford

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