UTA’s Faculty Senate held its first virtual meeting for the 2020-2021 academic year and discussed COVID-19 on campus, student enrollment and progress toward Texas Tier 1 status.
Interim President Teik Lim said despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, faculty have adapted well and are ensuring that students continue to learn.
“Student success remains on an upward trajectory; graduation and retention rates have continued to rise; [the] number of graduates remains steady,” Lim said. “This is truly a testament of all of your commitments to our students.”
Lim said that because of testing conducted by the university at the North Texas Genome Center, UTA is able to test all athletes and some music majors regularly. If the center could operate at full capacity, there could be more monitoring of the virus, he said.
As of right now, the genome center is able to conduct a few hundred tests per week, he said. With more technicians and an efficient specimen collection process, at full capacity, the center could conduct about 2,000 tests per week.
Despite the school year just starting and campus reopening, Lim said the university has not seen a spike in COVID-19 cases compared to other institutions, even with frequent testing being done.
“Perhaps our relentless effort of messaging our students and the mitigating steps that we have taken in our reopening plan are working,” Lim said.
Fall enrollment continues to remain steady, Lim said, and summer enrollment this year saw about an 8% increase. This fall the university did see an enrollment decrease in new graduate and transfer students but an increase in first-time students and continuing undergraduate students.
As of Wednesday, Lim said UTA meets all the requirements to become a Texas Tier 1 university.
Tier 1 status rankings focus on research prominence. If recognized, the university receives funding from the state’s National Research University Fund. UTA has reached a series of requirements including surpassing $45 million in restricted research expenditures.
The university will undergo an audit in early spring. Once that is successfully conducted, UTA will be officially awarded Texas Tier 1 recognition, Lim said. The university has been working toward achieving Tier 1 status for 10 years, he said.
“I hope you find this as really good news,” Lim said. “Again, proof of the quality of our research, our faculty and our students.”