FROM THE DEAN: A Look Back on Spring ’13

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Dean Beth Wright
Dean Beth Wright

This has been a whirlwind semester, and a momentous one.

On June 1 we will welcome a new university president, Dr. Vistasp Karbhari. He has already made several extended visits to our campus, and he is very impressed with what he has learned about us.

During the year we have participated in many recognitions of President Spaniolo’s impact on our institution. His support for excellence in education, research scholarship, and creative activity has brought us to unparalleled heights of achievement. A lasting testament to his dynamic impact – and his support for the arts on campus – is going to be unveiled this month: Darryl Lauster’s sculpture Reach. Inspired by a Leonardo da Vinci sketch for an invention, this sculpture will be next to the Engineering Research Building. What an inspiring way to commemorate President Spaniolo’s leadership of an institution which is doing groundbreaking work in science, technology, the humanities, and the arts.

On May 12, we will have our commencement ceremony in the College Park Center with an unprecedented number of graduating students – nearly 800 of them. How wonderful that their friends and family will be able to celebrate that wonderful milestone together, in an arena which holds 7,000 cheering people.

Last month, we celebrated once again the College Liberal Arts awards for achievements by students, faculty and staff in our College: “acCOLAdes.” We applauded the four Archer Fellows (of five for the entire university) who will be taking courses next year in Washington, D.C. and hold internships in federal agencies, the White House, the U.S. Department of State, and non-profit organizations, College of Liberal Arts scholarship recipients, and the many COLA scholars whose exceptional achievements were recognized by their departments.

Once again two endowed centers had a prominent role in the ceremony. The Charles McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Global Studies awarded grants for undergraduate students to study in Korea and Turkey and for faculty to engage in research and creative activity in Bangladesh, Canada, France, India, Korea, Mauritius, Mexico, Romania, Taiwan, and the U.K. The Mustaque Ahmed Festival of Ideas Global Research Institute graduate student recipients from Art, English, and History received awards to support their research on topics relating to “Immigration, Migration, and Diaspora.” It is wonderful to see the impact of the generous support of our friends in the community.

Our friends in the community contributed to provide our students this year with a new resource: the Pre-Law Center. During the year, more than 150 students from across campus were able to gain information about future careers in legal professions. Some are interested in specific topics, such as immigration law. Some wish to connect specialized training in engineering with legal training so that they can be informed about patent law. Many alumni and friends in the community made it possible for them to meet law school admission deans, shadow attorneys, hear about scholarship opportunities, and see new possibilities for the future. Dr. Elisabeth Cawthon, Interim Director of this center, received an award recognizing her exemplary service to the College of Liberal Arts.

Our magnificent faculty and staff were recognized by the College and by UT Arlington with awards for their research, their creative activity, their teaching and their advising. And the UT System honored Dr. David Silva (Professor of Linguistics and Vice-Provost for Faculty Affairs), who has been named one of the 12 members of the inaugural class of the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Several years ago when the UT System began to recognize outstanding teaching across the systems academic and health science campuses, Dr. Silva was one of the inaugural UT System Regents Distinguished Teachers. 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 are hiring impressive faculty members: people who have earned their degree at Oxford University, or who have received awards from the Fulbright Foundation and Department of Education. They are eager 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 and contributions to student scholarships. Our 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students thank you!

During the summer we’ll continue to teach, to engage in research, to study (at home and abroad), to enlighten the community. Two faculty members will be Fulbright Fellows. Many faculty will be mentoring undergraduate student research projects. I know that it will be a wonderful creative and productive time for all of us. 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 2013. Congratulations!

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