Let's Begin the New Academic Year with Resolve
The University of Texas at Dallas
August 2017
Let's Begin the New Academic Year with Resolve
At the start of fall classes, I am always filled with renewed excitement and optimism. This is born of my joy at being able to work with so many talented faculty, staff and students. This year, however, there is also a hefty dose of resolve, stoked by an ignoble event.

I have watched in disbelief over the last week as extremists representing abhorrent racial views trampled over a place that I hold dear. As a mechanical engineering graduate student, I walked the famed University of Virginia Lawn. I visited the Charlottesville businesses located nearby.

Sadly, a young woman lost her life on those same streets this past weekend, and many others were injured, some critically. Two Virginia law enforcement officers died in a helicopter crash as they monitored the protests.

What we witnessed in Charlottesville triggered an outpouring of condemnation. I join in that condemnation and extend it to all forms of bigotry.

In my role as University president, I am charged with the responsibility for the well-being of UT Dallas. Because of recent events, some in our academic community have expressed concern and sometimes fear.

I offer my assurance that this University can and will provide a quality education in a safe, welcoming environment. We do not tolerate behavior or speech on our campus that is meant to defame, violate the law or incite violence.

Our student body includes more than 5,700 international students from 102 countries, as well as students from across the nation. These bright students could have attended any number of excellent universities, yet they chose UT Dallas, due in no small part to our diversity and inclusivity.

UTD Diversity

UT Dallas attracts scholars from more than 100 countries, and every geographic region of the state and nation, contributing to an enriched academic experience.

I do not fear a clash of ideas. I welcome it. As I said in my 2016 convocation address to our new students: “Allow yourself to be challenged. Present your own arguments when you feel strongly about a matter, but always do so in a respectful way. It is OK to hold your ground in a dorm room debate but, as a rule-of-thumb, if you never change your mind on any topic then it is a safe bet that you are not learning and you are not growing intellectually.”

Our students will be studying, learning and living with others who have vastly different life experiences than their own. That's an excellent start to expanding their comfort zones, especially as they discover common goals, concerns and dreams. And it gives me reason to hope for a more open and inclusive society.

So, while my newsfeed may be filled with disheartening reports, I find inspiration from something written by another one-time resident of Charlottesville: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In that fundamentally American spirit of equality, let us all begin the new academic year at UT Dallas with excitement, optimism ... and resolve!

Richard C. Benson, President

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. Richard C. Benson, president of The University of Texas at Dallas, and provides the ultimate insider’s view on the news and concerns of the University.

The University of Texas at Dallas // 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson, Texas 75080-3021
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