President David E. Daniel

April 2015


Seeking Answers to Society's Important Questions

It might surprise some to know that UT Dallas — known for world-class research in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is deliberately engaged in rigorous social sciences education and research. Faculty in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) are using statistics, big data analytics, computer mapping and remote sensing to answer some of the most important social questions of our time.

For instance, Children's Medical Center Dallas regularly turns to Dr. Timothy Bray's team at the University's Institute for Urban Policy Research to gather data for Beyond ABC, a report on the quality of life of North Texas children. Findings showed higher-than-average rates of uninsured children, a gap between high school completion rates and college readiness rates, the overburdening of Child Protective Services caseworkers and the fact that the region's children are becoming poorer.

Another critical area — public education — is being tackled by Dr. Rodney Andrews and the researchers at the Texas Schools Project, who are investigating whether bond funding for new buildings and technology translates into student success. And Dr. Yongwan Chun has combined geospatial information system mapping and criminology to illustrate burglary patterns in Plano. (EPPS has one of the nation's top-10-ranked criminology programs.)

The social sciences can illuminate serious problems and connect data to policy recommendations, while providing students with opportunities to assist in research.

Many EPPS students take what they learn here and go on to endeavors that focus on improving the quality of life for others. Bill Holston BA'78 is one such example: He practiced law for many years before taking the helm of the nonprofit Human Rights Initiative, a Dallas-based agency that provides legal and support services to refugees and immigrants suffering human rights abuses.

The University's replica courtroom is named in honor of Dr. Anthony Champagne, EPPS political science professor and director of the Pre-Law Advising and Resource Center.

Careers in the legal arena are a natural fit for those with an EPPS education. Undergraduates benefit from the guidance of Dr. Anthony Champagne, who in addition to teaching political science, serves as director of the pre-law program. UT Dallas is the only school in Texas to have teams in all three major undergraduate legal advocacy competitions: moot court, mock trial and mediation. These teams train in a Texas courtroom replica on campus named in honor of Dr. Champagne.

At the graduate level, EPPS produces the second-most doctoral students among the University's schools, accounting for almost 30 percent of the PhDs awarded. Its master's degree in public affairs is especially valued by those working in local, state and federal governmental agencies as city managers, fire chiefs, police chiefs, policy analysts, budget directors, HR directors, IT directors and hospital executives.

EPPS students frequently hone their leadership skills as members of our Student Government and other organizations. Pre-law students Brooke Knudtson and Nancy Fairbank — this school year's president and vice president of Student Government — are the most recent to do so.

UT Dallas aspires to be a first-rank public research university. I am proud to say that this aspiration benefits not just the University, but also the larger community. Through our social science degree programs and ongoing research, we make a difference — globally, statewide and in our own neighborhoods.

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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.