RICHARDSON, Texas (June 1, 2005) – Proclaiming his new assignment “one of the best jobs in higher education in America,” Dr. David E. Daniel today became the fourth president of The University of Texas at Dallas in the institution’s 36-year history, succeeding Dr. Franklyn G. Jenifer, who retired after serving as UTD president since 1994.
Daniel, who comes to UTD from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he served as dean of one of the top engineering schools in the country, was scheduled to begin his first day on the job by meeting with Dr. Kern Wildenthal, president of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. UTD and UT Southwestern collaborate on a growing number of research projects and are seeking to expand their relationship.
Later, he was to meet with other university presidents from the Metroplex at a Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce luncheon and attend a welcome reception in his honor. Daniel will attend a “meet and greet” with UTD students tomorrow afternoon in The Pub on campus.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents selected Daniel as the next president of UTD on Feb. 10 after conducting a lengthy national search for a successor to Jenifer. The retiring president described Daniel, who is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering, as an “excellent choice to be the next head of UTD.”
Daniel has said that the development of a new strategic plan for the university would be one of his top priorities in 2005, and he promised today that he would “seek input from all of UTD’s stakeholders” in developing that document. Work has already begun on the plan, and Daniel has said he wants it completed by the end of the year, if not before.
Daniel said that another of his priorities would be to “round out the university’s leadership team as quickly as possible” by filling several key positions.
The new president said he was “very anxious to learn as much as he can about UTD” and planned to spend his first few days and weeks meeting with faculty, staff, students and others to get to know UTD’s people and challenges better.
“My goal is to learn as much as possible over the course of the summer and then move forward with preparation and finalization of a strategic plan for the university in the fall,” Daniel said. “I want UTD to continue to evolve as an institution of excellence and impact and to become one of the great universities of the world as quickly as possible.”
Jenifer, a former president of Howard University and chancellor of higher education in Massachusetts, served as UTD president for nearly 11 years. His predecessor, Dr. Robert H. Rutford, served as head of the university from 1982 until 1994 and is still on the UTD faculty. Rutford is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Antarctica . In fact, an ice stream that he discovered on the continent bears his name, as does a street on the UTD campus. UTD’s first president, Dr. Bryce Jordan, led the university for more than a decade, until 1981. He went on to become president of Penn State University.
The university has had two “interim” or “acting” presidents. Dr. Francis S. Johnson, head of the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies (SCAS), formerly the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, served as interim president of UTD after SCAS was turned over to the state on June 13, 1969, and officially became The University of Texas at Dallas on Sept. 1, 1969. And Dr. Alexander L. Clark served as acting president for more than eight months between the Jordan and Rutford administrations.
Daniel earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in civil engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and served on the engineering faculty at U. T. Austin for 16 years. He joined The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 and became dean of the College of Engineering in 2001. He also was Gutgsell professor of civil engineering at the university.
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.