David Watts, the fifth and longest serving president of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, was honored on Tuesday, as the university prepares to welcome his successor – Sandra Woodley.
At a reception celebrating his tenure as University of Texas of the Permian Basin president, David Watts said a hallmark of his career was helping to grow the school’s departments and programs.
Watts – who’s been with the university for 16 years – pointed to engineering as a department that has seen significant growth. “It’s now the largest program at UTPB. Over 700 students are in engineering,” Watts said. “We’re building a first-rate engineering building. So that’s an example of the kind of change I think that benefits the people in the Permian basin part of West Texas.”
Watt’s also said UTPB’s efforts to establish the Early College Highschool network, an online early college for high school students, was a key moment in his tenure. The program began as a partnership between the university and the Presidio Independent School District, but has since expanded to include nine other districts in far West Texas.
Penney Nichols, UTPB’s associate dean of students, says Watts was also instrumental in the university’s growth. “We just appreciate so much his work for these years to take a small struggling university to the success that it is today,” Nichols said.
The school’s enrollment has grown by more than 4,000 students during Watt’s tenure. Incoming president Sandra Woodley will take over in July.