Recalling the Vivid, Lasting Moments of 2011

This has been a whirlwind Fall semester. Almost 34,000 students at the University of Texas at Arlington! Almost 5,000 of them are majoring in the undergraduate and graduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts. This month we are planning for a record in graduation: more than 700 students will be earning degrees.

I prefer, however, to think of these numbers as unique individuals – one by one by one. Three students gained national and international attention this fall. J.C. Derrick, a Communication student who is an Archer Fellow in Washington, D.C., serving as an intern at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, gained a national audience when his piece appeared on the Washington Post online. William Nutt (a graduate student in anthropology) on his first excavation in Italy, discovered what may be the earliest representation of childbirth in Western art. Mr. Nutt, who is supported by a National Science Foundation fellowship, is legally blind. Dominic Bracco, a 2008 double alumnus in Journalism and Spanish, returned to our campus in September to talk about his work documenting the drug war in Mexico. His photographs have appeared in the New York Times Sunday magazine and the Washington Post, and his work has been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It’s a privilege to support such talented and dedicated students, and to see their impact in the wider world.

We are also very proud of the people on our campus who have helped to make their achievements and enlightenment possible: the dedicated faculty members, the advisers, the staff members who have helped with computers and equipment. As I read anonymous student evaluations of classes, I see not only direct responses to individual subjects and instructors, but over and over again I read comments about life-changing experiences. Our students are inspired to do their very best because our faculty guides them to recognize that education is permanently transformative. What they learn here each day they will draw upon for the rest of their lives.

Recently, a longtime dream became an emerging reality: the establishment of a Center for African American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. The chair of the search committee for its first director is Dr. Marvin Dulaney, Chair of the Department of History. The College of Liberal Arts and the School of Social Work are spearheading this initiative, and I am serving on the search committee along with Dean Scott Ryan and faculty from both Liberal Arts and Social Work. I know that our faculty and students and members of the community will benefit greatly from the many activities of this Center, which will support educational, scholarly, and civic missions.

We are experiencing challenges in budget and personnel, as are universities and colleges across the country. But we are undaunted. We know what we do has lasting value and impact, and as we go forward into the new year we celebrate achievements and the opportunity to do even more.

– Dr. Beth Wright, Dean of Liberal Arts


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