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December 2012

Moving Toward Tier One: 2,500 Doctoral Graduates, and Growing

While preparing for winter graduation ceremonies recently, I realized that UT Dallas has reached a milestone: more than 2,500 doctoral students have graduated from the University.

We have made great strides since our first PhD student crossed the stage in 1972, just three years after we joined the UT System. When I watch faculty mentors place the brightly colored, velvet-edged hoods on the doctoral candidates during ceremonies preceding graduation, I'm reminded of the rigorous intellectual journey these students undertake and the careful academic guidance they need to reach the pinnacle of academic achievement in their fields.


President David E. Daniel and Drs. Ranita and Somasish Ghosh Dastidar during their hooding ceremony.

Ranita and Somasish Ghosh Dastidar were among our recent PhD graduates. The Drs. Dastidar, originally from Kolkata, India, invested six years at UT Dallas to earn PhD degrees in biology. They lived on campus and worked in adjacent labs.

Their perseverance, dedication and hard work paid off. Today, they exemplify the quality of UT Dallas graduates who are poised to create new knowledge in their disciplines. Somasish is a post-doctoral fellow at Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in San Diego, where he works on the study of neurodegeneration in connection with diseases such as Parkinson's and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Ranita is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. She is involved in basic research to study the biological pathways of protein trafficking.

Helping students succeed at the doctoral level is a significant commitment not only on our faculty's part, but also on the University's part. We review and update programs and maintain steady growth in the number of doctoral candidates by increasing endowed fellowships and external funding, and recruiting talented research faculty.

Why produce more PhDs? Doctoral students must master a field, and when they are successful, possess advanced knowledge gained through their own research. About 85 percent of all the degrees we produce at UTD are in science, engineering, mathematics, management and associated fields. Those UTD graduates who reach the top rung of the academic ladder typically become highly sought-after commodities, recruited by business, industry, research and development, teaching, government and the public sector. They are uniquely positioned to contribute to the economic viability of a region and to compete in a global market.

The number of UTD doctoral graduates has nearly tripled in the past decade, from 58 in 2001 to 166 in 2011. In 2012, we hooded 179 doctoral graduates.

This growth is a key indicator that we are moving quickly toward attaining one of the markers of a nationally competitive, "Tier One" research university.

We will press onward in recruiting and mentoring a growing number of top students. Our graduate student enrollment increased by 11.5 percent last year. We currently offer 30 doctoral programs and are being deliberately strategic about increasing that number. At UT Dallas, we mean to focus on solving globally significant problems of great importance to local employers. As we strive for excellence, there is no better measure than the quality of our graduates and their work to create the future.

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About This Newsletter

The President's Viewpoint is a periodic newsletter distributed to a select group of alumni, friends, faculty and staff. It comes from the desk of Dr. David E. Daniel, president of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the University.