A Conversation With Robert Rutford
Former UT Dallas President and Explorer Presided Over University Growth
in Engineering Programs, Undergraduate Education and On-Campus Housing
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.
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