A Glimpse of GraduationUT Dallas - 40 Years

Megan Newman

Bachelor of Arts, Historical Studies

Profile Photo of Megan NewmanToday our scholastic rigors pay off. Finally, we all receive that thin piece of paper at which our efforts have been directed for so long.

Looking back, it’s easy to see that studying at this University has shaped us in innumerable ways. The intelligent students we met, the professors who challenged us, and the openness of our University to growth and change, have affected the courses of our lives, studies and careers.

We are grateful for the opportunities provided us by UT Dallas, and we will cherish its funky spirit and traditions for life—except that, starting tomorrow, most of us will once again avoid combinations of green and orange like the plague.

Having established our sincere gratitude for the many people who spent so much time teaching and shaping us, I’d like to talk about the flip side of our experience here at UT Dallas. The flip side is what we as a school have brought to the University. It may not seem like much in the scale of the history of UT Dallas, but our contribution is an absolutely essential one.

For starters, a University built on the idea of plentiful concrete and scant windows can obviously benefit from a little artistic flair. Perhaps our economists and sociologists friends explained to the administration that a more pleasant campus atmosphere would actually attract students to UT Dallas! Thank goodness for the beautification project.

But while the beautification project is progressing through phase mud, we, the students of Arts and Humanities, are actually the walking beautification of this University. Think about it. What kind of environment would this be if it were filled solely with engineers, computer scientists, physicists, chemists and mathematicians?

Well, I guess we could ask those who graduated before 1975, but I think we all have a pretty good idea of what that world looks like. It’s colorless, boring and apparently, concrete. Not to knock those majors, but the University is woefully incomplete without our concern for the study of humankind and the artistic.

Oh UT Dallas, how have we beautified thee? Let me count the ways.

First, there’s the art barn. It’s so different from its surroundings that many a student wanders in there to find out that UT Dallas does, in fact, have an artsy side.

In Arts and Humanities, we also provide UT Dallas with writing of the less academic and more interesting variety—sorry EPPS. In the spring, campus is festively dotted with our students, busily writing poetry and short stories. Armed with notepads and a certain dreamy look in their eyes, they capture the life of UT Dallas’ squirrels, grass and freshmen on paper.

Go out there and do for the world what you’ve done for UT Dallas, with the guidance of your professors and colleagues: Create, study, analyze and enjoy the finer things in life.

On the other hand, Arts and Humanities is also home to the literary studies majors. Though they may tire of reading the books on their course requirement list, they’re definitely the envy of the double E majors and the political theorists as they publicly thumb through poetry anthologies, Faulkner books and even Harry Potter.

The theater program at UT Dallas provides the kind of cutting-edge entertainment you just can’t find at a chemistry student association meeting. Several years ago, the student theater collective even put on an outdoor “popcorn theater” adaptation of Blazing Saddles. The audience ended up pelting the cast with marshmallows, even lodging one in the throat of an actor mid-monologue. But he hocked it out, and the show went on.

The UT Dallas theater department is housed in the basement of Jonsson. That basement is one of the best-kept secrets of UT Dallas, and from its depths several art forms are scheming in secret to take over the University. I envision their takeover as a plot that involves three different forms of dance, elaborate stage lighting, acting finesse, background theme music alternately by the jazz ensemble and the classical guitar students, and some heavier musical artillery from the vocal ensemble.

Until that takeover happens, A&H is filling the UT Dallas campus with a different kind of music as its students learn to speak six of the world’s languages. Their sometimes-halting attempts allow this University to communicate with other cultures even as we learn to understand them better through language.

We’re undeniably innovative, this school of A&H. Never satisfied with the drab workings of computer science, we’re even finding ways to create art within that rigid discipline through ATEC. In EMAC, we’re applying new technologies to our understanding of and interactions with humanity.

Let’s not forget that we are also the students on campus who cart around the works of Plato to pick apart human thought and world views. We are the same students who take classes that require us to watch Alfred Hitchcock films or identify an artist by analyzing a work of art.
Then there’s history—my personal favorite. We use the most interesting stories from the past to spice up life at the University today. Creative? I think so. Necessary? Absolutely.

There are other side effects of our presence on campus. While we can’t take credit for all the incredible artwork being created on the Spirit Rocks, I think we can fairly claim that the Love Jack belongs to us. It’s definitely in our sphere of influence, between the theater and Jonsson.

What about the mermaid building, perhaps the most beautiful building on campus? That was definitely our idea. OK, OK, so maybe I’ve carried this a little too far. But I think you get the picture. In fact, you often create or analyze the picture. The School of Arts and Humanities may be small in numbers, but we are a big in influence on campus.

I’ll conclude with a little piece of advice. Go out there and do for the world what you’ve done for UT Dallas, with the guidance of your professors and colleagues:  Create, study, analyze and enjoy the finer things in life.

I’m confident you can accomplish this, because we have been and will remain the few, the proud, the Arts and Humanities.

Megan Newman came to UT Dallas from Eastwood High School in El Paso, Texas. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in historical studies.

She was a Eugene McDermott Scholar, was on the dean’s list every semester, served as president of the UT Dallas Pre-Law Society, was a founding member of the mock trial team, was awarded first place nationally in legal mediation, founded the organization SPEAK (Students for Political Education, Action and Knowledge), received the President’s Volunteer Service Award and was a member of Collegium V.

As a collegian, she studied at the Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico and spent time in Italy focusing on art history. She served an internship in the 327th District Court in El Paso and, as an Archer Fellow, spent a semester in Washington, D.C., working at the United States Supreme Court.

She plans to continue her studies at the University of Virginia School of Law.