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New UTA president hopes to build research capabilities, inclusivity efforts as she takes helm

UT Arlington President-Designate Jennifer Cowley, Ph.D., wearing a blue jacket and orange shirt, speaks at a dais behind a blue background and orange-and-blue balloons at UTA's College Park Center April 13, 2022.
Courtesy UT Arlington
Jennifer Cowley, Ph.D., addresses the crowd at her welcome reception April 13, 2022 at UT Arlington's College Park Center. Cowley will become the 10th UTA president and first woman to hold the title. She officially starts April 28.

Jennifer Cowley, Ph.D., starts her tenure as the 10th UT Arlington president and first woman to hold the role.

Cowley told attendees at her welcome reception April 13 she is inspired and energized after spending months preparing for the role by learning more about UTA. The university in the last year reached Texas Tier One status, a designation for emerging research universities, and announced a program that will cover 100% of tuition and fees for low-income students.

"Our state and our region need us to dream big. I know we will be united in our efforts to reach for excellence as we make UT Arlington one of the nation's most inclusive and impactful research universities," she said April 13, according to a university press release. "I am proud to be your president and I look forward to all we will be able to accomplish together."

Cowley will join UTA's College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs as a professor.

Cowley comes to Arlington from the University of North Texas, where she served as the provost and vice president of academic affairs since 2017. She was also a professor in the university's health and public services college. She's credited with doubling UNT's research expenditures, establishing a Frisco campus and improving representation among women and underrepresented groups within UNT's faculty and administrators, according to a January UT System press release. She earned her doctorate in urban and regional science from Texas A&M University and master's degrees from Texas A&M and UNT.

Before serving at UNT, Cowley spent 16 years at The Ohio State University, where she served as the vice provost for capital planning and regional campuses, head of city and regional planning and associate engineering college dean.

Cowley's appointment has been characterized as a homecoming: She has taught an annual professional development workshop on campus for the last decade and attended UTA summer camps and classes while growing up in Arlington.

The UT System Board of Regents named Cowley as the sole finalist for the position that had been left without a permanent president for two years. The system began its search in early 2020, but paused search efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teik Lim, former UTA provost, served as interim president through the pandemic. Lim will become the president of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in July.

Cowley said April 13 that Lim helped her make a "smooth transition" into the role.

UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said April 13 that Cowley has had "tremendous preparation" for the role.

"Her experiences at some of the country's great public universities, her experiences in championing diversity in university leadership, are all critical parts in her leadership of UTA," he said.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard covers Arlington for KERA News and The Arlington Report. Broussard has covered Arlington since 2020 and began at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram before joining the station in 2021.