The UT System Board of Regents named Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of North Texas, as the sole finalist for the president of UT Arlington.
Regents voted unanimously Friday to select Cowley, who has risen through the ranks of academia over the past 20 years and has held numerous positions at the academic program, college and university levels.
As provost at UNT, which enrolls 42,000 students, Cowley launched a strategic effort in 2017 that increased the three- and four-year graduation rates. Like UT Arlington, UNT is one of the nation’s few Carnegie Tier 1 research universities that is also recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Under her leadership, UNT has increased the representation of women and underrepresented groups serving in faculty and academic leadership positions at UNT.
In the research arena, Cowley headed a collaborative group to help faculty better engage in UNT’s research mission. Over the most recent three-year Carnegie measurement period, UNT doubled its research expenditures.
Cowley was also instrumental of the establishment of a UNT campus in Frisco, Texas.
Before joining UNT in 2017, Cowley was a member of the faculty at The Ohio State University, serving as vice provost for capital planning and regional campuses, associate dean for academic affairs and administration in the College of Engineering, and department chair and professor in City and Regional Planning.
“Dr. Cowley is an accomplished leader in academia, research and industry partnerships, and her experiences align well with UT Arlington’s mission and growth aspirations,” Regents Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said. “Throughout her career, she has remained focused on student success, faculty collaborations, and external partnerships—all essential elements needed to advance a top public research university.”
With an enrollment of more than 48,000 students, UT Arlington is one of the largest universities in Texas and one of the fastest growing in the country. UT Arlington is a model for large, urban institutions, ranking No. 1 in the nation by the Military Times for serving veterans and No. 5 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for undergraduate ethnic diversity.
UT Arlington achieved the prestigious Carnegie Research 1 designation in 2016 and in August was named a Texas Tier One institution. Both achievements require institutions to reach significant benchmarks of excellence in academics and research, and Cowley will be responsible for qualitative growths in those areas.
Cowley’s candidacy was recommended to regents by a presidential search advisory committee, led by Chancellor James B. Milliken, and was composed of representation from the UT Arlington faculty, students, alumni, community leaders, UT presidents and regents.
“I thank the search advisory committee for its very good work, which resulted in an exceptional group of candidates recommended to the regents,” Milliken said. “Dr. Cowley’s career and accomplishments are impressive by any standard, and I am especially enthusiastic about her innovative spirit and track record for making visions reality. I think she is the ideal fit for UT Arlington.”
Cowley holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in urban planning and doctorate in urban and regional science from Texas A&M University. In addition, she earned master’s degrees in public administration and interdisciplinary studies from UNT. Her research and work in urban planning has been published and referenced in numerous books, journals and publications.
Cowley grew up in Arlington attending summer camps and classes at UTA. She has taught an annual professional development workshop at UTA for the last decade.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to return my hometown to play a leadership role in shaping the future at UT Arlington, and I enthusiastically accept this opportunity and responsibility,” Cowley said. “I am eager to begin working with faculty, staff, students, alumni, the UT System, and the broader metroplex and statewide communities to help UTA achieve its full potential as it serves the people of Texas through education and discovery.”
Per state law, Regents now must wait 21 days before officially naming Cowley president. Once approved, she will succeed Teik C. Lim, who has been serving as interim president since spring 2020. Lim was named the president of New Jersey Institute of Technology earlier this week.