First UT Dallas president guided growth from 40 to over 7,000 students

H. Bryce Jordan's goal was to balance the school’s reputation for outstanding mathematics and science studies. | File photo

Dr. H. Bryce Jordan, president of the University of Texas Dallas between 1971 and 1981, recently died in Austin. He was 91. 

Jordan was the president for the first two years that UT Dallas was a member of the University of Texas System. Within those years, the faculty grew from 50 to 215 members and student enrollment rose from 40 to over 7,000.

Until 1975, UT Dallas provided only graduate degrees. In 1975, the school began accepting students who were seniors and juniors. Dr. Jordan granted the university’s first bachelor’s degrees in 1976 at the spring commencement. 

“I was not privileged to spend much time with Dr. Jordan, and mostly remember visiting him at his Austin home,” Hobson Wildenthal, UT Dallas president ad interim, said. “All of the admiring tales I had heard from UT Dallas faculty colleagues about him were immediately validated during that visit. He exuded dynamism, cheerfulness and engagement, and we traded questions and answers about the many luminaries he had worked with over his long and distinguished career. He was blessed with a superabundance of those human traits that draw admiration, affection and respect.”

Jordan is remembered for his strategic thinking, visionary goals and plans for the university’s emphasis on humanities, arts and social sciences. His goal was to balance the school’s reputation for outstanding mathematics and science studies.

“It was vitally important that he brought a musician’s mind and sensibility to the early years of the University, investing that formative era with a sense of harmony and balance,” Dennis Kratz, the dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, said. “He once told me that a quality essential to both musicians, teachers and administrators was the ability to listen to others, not only attentively but also sympathetically. And he displayed that quality in every conversation that I can remember having with him.”

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