Spring Brings Celebration, Recognition of Achievement

It’s time to look back over a historic semester.

FROM THE DEAN ... Dr. Beth Wright

The weather was not cooperative – we lost more than a week of classes to snow and ice closures. But dedicated students and faculty maintained their momentum. And we reached historic numbers: almost 34,000 students enrolled in our classes!

This is the period when congratulations are signaling exceptional achievement. Students are winning awards, receiving admittance to professional programs, walking across the stage of Texas Hall in graduation ceremonies. This spring, 711 students are eligible to earn their degrees. That’s almost 20 percent of all the degree-eligible students for the entire university! We look forward to our two graduation ceremonies on May 15.

During the past few weeks we’ve learned of national and international recognition for our students. A double major in Advertising and Public Relations won a national prize in interactive marketing. A History student and a Sociology student won prizes for their outstanding presentations at the Honors College’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Symposia in Fall and Spring, and a double major in English and History won the Great Plains Honors Council Dennis Boe award. A graduate student in Music was one of the first-place winners of an international piano competition; she performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall. And a graduate student in glass art had his work included in the top 100 works published in New Glass Review (curated by Corning), chosen out of 2,672 entries from 45 countries.

And there’s a good reason for student achievement: our magnificent faculty. Last week, Dr. Kenneth Roemer (Professor of English) was named a Piper Professor — one of 10 chosen out of a field of 240 professors from public and private colleges and universities across the state of Texas. Roemer is a member of both the Academy of Distinguished Scholars and the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and he’s been a member of our faculty since 1971. This week, Yake’ Smith’s film “Katrina’s Son” will screen at the Cannes Film Festival. Smith became an Assistant Professor of Film in 2009.

And this week the members of the honor society Phi Kappa Phi recognized faculty members who had a formative influence on them: faculty of every rank, from lecturer to full Professor, newcomers and dedicated veterans. We are very proud of our exceptional faculty and the students whose education, research scholarship, and creative activity are being nurtured and advanced through their efforts.

We hired five impressive, new tenure-stream faculty members: winners of national and international awards. They accepted our offer because they want to work with our wonderful faculty and students, and they value what we are already doing.

Our generous supporters value what we are doing as well. We appreciate the funds which are coming to us in Dean’s Excellence (where they support undergraduate scholarships, graduate student research travel and conference presentation, faculty scholarship and presentation, visiting lecturers and many other aspects of our scholarly and creative activity) and in the establishment of student scholarships. The 5,044 undergraduate and graduate students thank you!

During the summer we’ll be very busy. We’ll continue to teach our courses on campus. Students will study abroad. Faculty will present their research in conferences in Paris (Political Science), Russia (Linguistics), and many other places. Everyone will be able to concentrate on their scholarship and creative activity. And when we return in August we’ll let you know some of the ways our faculty and our students have been using their knowledge and their talents to have an impact in their discipline, their community, and around the world. For now – let’s celebrate the achievements of Spring 2011. Congratulations!

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