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The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

News Release
For Immediate Release

News contact: Jon Senderling, UTD, (972) 883-2565, jsender@utdallas.edu
 
WAG Report: UTD Has Potential To Achieve
‘Tier One’ Research Status, But It Will Take
At Least 10 Years And More Resources Will Be Needed
 
Possibility Of Creating A County Tax District
To Support The Rapidly Growing University Is Raised
 
 

RICHARDSON, Texas (May 13, 2004) — The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has the potential to achieve “Tier One” status as a research institution but it will take at least 10 years for the school to reach that level and significant additional resources will be needed, according to a report prepared for the University of Texas System by the Washington Advisory Group (WAG), a nationally prominent consultancy.

The U. T. System contracted with WAG last July to do an independent study on how to develop more research institutions within the system. The goal was to develop analyses and plans for improving eight of the system’s nine academic institutions – all except U. T. Austin, which already is ranked among the nation’s top 100 research institutions – and for raising their national standings in both research and education.

Although the group conceded in its report, which was released today, that whether UTD can achieve Tier One status “within a decade is questionable,” it went on to assert: “We believe that with continued progress, support from the state, the U. T. System and private sources, and with strong leadership, UTD could become a top-tier research university and fulfill the dreams of its founders.”

UTD President Dr. Franklyn Jenifer said he and other university officials were "delighted that a consultancy as prestigious as the Washington Advisory Group had agreed with their conclusion that UTD had unmistakable Tier One potential. That’s what we’ve been saying all along.”

For the purposes of its report, which U. T. System Chancellor Mark Yudof characterized as a “roadmap to enhance the research capacity and competitiveness” of every one of the campuses studied, WAG said it defined a Tier One research university as a school with at least $100 million in annual research expenditures. Last year, UTD’s research expenditures totaled about $28 million.

In the report, WAG said it agreed with U. T. Dallas Provost Dr. Hobson Wildenthal’s assessment that “UTD must double the size of its research-active faculty and its current faculty members must double their research efficiency” in order to achieve the $100-million goal. Noting that UTD estimates that it will need to recruit 250 new faculty members in science and engineering, each of whom would have to bring in an average of $300,000 per year in research expenditures, the report said, “We believe tuition increases represent the only realistic possibility for funding for the salaries for these individuals.

“However, some thought is being given to creating a county tax district to support the university, but this is at least five years away,” the report added.

In the meantime, the report said, UTD “must develop a strategy for gaining access to major (private) donors in the Greater Dallas region.”

The report also said UTD was “fortunate that it has been given a five-year fundraising head start in its march toward Tier 1 status” with its Engineering and Science Research Enhancement Initiative, commonly known as Project Emmitt. Under Project Emmitt, which was announced on June 30, 2003, at a press conference at UTD attended by a host of dignitaries including the governor, UTD expects to receive an infusion of as much as $300 million in public and private funds as part of a partnership with Texas Instruments (TI) and the state of Texas. As part of the deal, TI will build a $3-billion wafer fabrication plant near the UTD campus.

“In terms of facilities that will be needed to support the contemplated expansion, Project Emmitt should take care of UTD’s needs for the next five years,” the report said. “After that, additional capital projects on a scale similar to Project Emmitt will have to be undertaken and sources to fund those projects will have to be secured.”

The 65-year-old Jenifer announced last October that he plans to retire as UTD president as soon as a successor is found, and a national search for that person currently is under way. The WAG report emphasized that the “recruitment of a first-class president for UTD is an absolute must if it (the university) is to achieve its goals.”

“President Jenifer expressed to us his strong view that, in order to achieve the UTD’s goals, the next president must have substantial experience and eminence in teaching and research at a top-tier research university. We concur in that judgment,” the report said.

The report defined UTD’s major strengths as:

  • Its ability to recruit top-quality faculty, as demonstrated by recent hires
  • Project Emmitt and the industrial support it has received
  • Its existing and potential collaborations with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the University of Texas at Arlington and other potential partners in the Metroplex
  • Its proximity to a community with a record of large donations to research institutions and
  • Its excellent undergraduate students and programs.

UTD’s current weaknesses, the report said, are:

  • Its inability, so far, to attract significant levels of external research funding
  • Its inability in recent years to raise large philanthropic contributions (other than Project Emmitt) in comparison, for example, to the neighboring University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • The small size of its research-active faculty and
  • The uneven quality of its graduate student populations.

The WAG report said UTD “must build on its current research strengths” – which it said included such areas as brain and behavioral sciences (particularly audiology), magnetic resonance imaging, information technology (especially communications), advanced materials, advanced instrumentation and management science and operations research – and consider expanding its involvement in such disciplines as nanotechnology, the biological sciences, geographic information science, engineering, geophysics and computer science.

“The difficulty of accomplishing all of the foregoing tasks should not be underestimated,” the report said. “They will require rigorous and extensive planning by the faculty and administration, and not all areas requiring change and enhancement can be tackled at once. Priorities must be set, and we suggest the following (for UTD):

  • Develop an institution-wide strategic plan
  • Develop and implement a plan for the Project Emmitt resources
  • Enhance the research capability of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics by expanding the faculty size to critical levels
  • Broaden the disciplinary base of the School of Engineering.”

WAG, which noted that it had been asked “specifically not to compare” the U. T. universities in its study, said U. T. Dallas needed to grow its enrollment, now at just under 14,000 students, as well as the size of its faculty to achieve the scale needed for Tier One status. The report also makes specific recommendations about such areas as recruiting, collaboration with other institutions, facilities, grant preparation and philanthropy and discusses in some depth several of UTD’s seven individual schools.

The entire WAG report is available on-line and can be accessed at www.utsystem.edu/news/WAG/homepage.htm.

For UTD’s response to the report, please go to www.utdallas.edu/utdgeneral/wag/response.htm.

About UTD

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 13,700 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.

 
 

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