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UTD To Honor Newest Group of Endowed Chairs, Professors

The University of Texas at Dallas will recognize 14 outstanding faculty members at its 2023 Investiture Ceremony, to be held April 14 in the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building Lecture Hall.

The event honors faculty members who have recently been named to endowed professorship and chair appointments. The ceremony also recognizes the donors whose generosity has enabled the establishment of these crucial endowments that support UT Dallas instructional programs and research. The event will be UTD’s first in-person Investiture Ceremony since 2019.

Endowed chairs and professorships are the highest academic award the University can bestow. These endowments fund initiatives that advance the University’s mission and raise its profile. UT Dallas has more than 140 endowed chairs and professorships, which recognize the scholarship and research of senior faculty members.’

“UT Dallas’ status as a home to transformative research and impactful education is sustained by the generosity of our donors,” said President Richard C. Benson, who holds the Eugene McDermott Distinguished University Chair of Leadership. “Thanks to their devotion, we can attract and support world-class faculty who shape our university through their research accomplishments, teaching and mentoring, and creativity and innovation.”

Among this year’s honorees is Dr. Donal Skinner, who arrived in January as the new dean of the Hobson Wildenthal Honors College. Skinner, also a professor of biological sciences, said that what stood out when he interviewed at UT Dallas, and has been evident since his arrival, is “the opportunity to be creative.”

“I have been struck by the culture of looking for ways to accomplish goals and innovative ideas. I have been inspired by the people I have met. There really is an energy to UTD that makes me look forward to every day,” he said. “But above all, the students here are special. They honestly humble me and give me real hope for the future.”

Also being recognized is Dr. Ovidiu Daescu, who became department head of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science in 2022. During his 23 years at UT Dallas, Daescu has served as associate department head, director of undergraduate education and computer science faculty lead on the joint computer science/mathematical sciences bachelor’s degree in data science. During that time, the computer science department expanded to more than 4,000 undergraduate students.

“I joined UT Dallas in 2000 on its promise of rapid growth in both size and reputation, and with the belief that if you work hard and stay focused, you can have an outstanding academic career and a happy life,” he said. “I am thankful I was able to do that with the help of my mentors, family and friends, students and colleagues, and supportive leadership throughout my academic experience.”

The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 4,000 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,010 master’s students, 140 Ph.D. students,  52 tenure-track faculty members, and 42 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2022. With the University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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