A Conversation With Bryce Jordan

Musicologist Led Science-Oriented University With Vision and Planning

Dec. 17, 2009

Listen: Full Interview (Windows Media; length 20:06)

(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.

We sat down for A Conversation With... the first president of UT Dallas, Dr. Bryce Jordan

Jordan became the president of UT Dallas in July 1971.  A visionary academic and campus planner, he crafted the University’s first strategic plan. That plan called for an interdisciplinary campus with a strong showing in the arts, humanities and social sciences to complement the University’s stellar reputation for science and mathematics. 

Jordan was president of UT Dallas for 10 years before the UT System appointed him vice chancellor for academic affairs.  He later became president of Penn State, serving there from 1983 to 1990. 

During our visit, Jordan shared his thoughts on:

  • Turning down another presidency to take the helm at UT Dallas.
  • The unconventional thinking that led to his selection as president.
  • His early impressions of the campus and his mother’s reaction to his new place of employment.
  • The founders of UT Dallas, their leadership and their unique personalities.
  • The need to grow the University and push back against outside forces aimed at limiting its growth.

Media contact: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]

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Bryce Jordan

President Emeritus Bryce Jordan


“I went up to Dallas to meet with the so called ‘selection committee’ of the faculty that was chaired by a cosmologist, a space scientist, named Ivor Robinson. I met with that committee…and we talked for a while.

“I was puzzled enough that I said to Ivor Robinson, ‘Why in the world would you scientists want this musicologist to be president of your university?’ And I never will forget Ivor’s response.  He said, ‘Dr. Jordan, you don’t know a thing about what we do, and we like it that way.’ And that’s how I became president of UT Dallas.”

—Dr. Bryce Jordan

On being a musicologist selected to head a “science” university

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May 26, 2018