ground breaking ceremony for engineering building
2018 for The University of Texas Permian Basin can be summed up in two words: moving forward

The University is moving into its next chapter with big plans.topping-out-ceremony.jpeg

The year began with a ‘topping out’ ceremony for the Engineering Building – tradition celebrating a major structural milestone in the construction of significant buildings. 

The $55 million three-story facility will house the College of Engineering. The building will include space for classrooms, instructional labs, research, administrative offices and student support services.

UT Permian Basin President Dr. Sandra Woodley says the space will be state-of-the-art.

“There is so much happening around the energy industry. This gives the University an opportunity to provide a workforce and innovation that’s needed,” Dr. Woodley said.

A key player to take innovation to the next level is the new College of Engineering Dean Dr. George Nnanna.

engineering-building-1.jpgBefore coming to UTPB, Dr. Nnanna led the mechanical and civil engineering departments at Purdue University Northwest in Indiana.

“My experience as founding director of Purdue Water Institute will help me in developing strategic initiatives necessary for the growth of the College,” Dr. Nnanna said. “UT Permian Basin Engineering is well-positioned to be an academic leader in the energy industry.”

Another area of growth – the College of Business. Dr. Steve Beach came on board as the new Dean of the College of Business. Dr. Beach comes to UT Permian Basin after serving as Associate Dean and Professor of Finance in the College of Business and Economics at Radford University.

“We are assembling a team of talented and innovative people to lead this University into the future. Steve Beach and George Nnanna are the kind of leaders we need to ensure that graduates from UT Permian are highly recruited and well prepared for the workforce,” Dr. Woodley said.

The University also broke ground on the D. Kirk Edwards Human Performance Center in September. 

“We believe upgraded facilities will instill a sense of pride in our athletic programs while inspiring research and advanced learning for our students,” she said. “Our students and athletes deserve a facility like this. We expect the best from them in the classroom, at practice and at game-time. They should expect the same from us.”

The 63,000 square foot facility will house the Kinesiology Department including classrooms and labs.  It will also give all student athletes a new space to train and coaches a place to recruit.

The year ended with a historic Investiture Ceremony – an official conferring of President Woodley. At the ceremony, Dr. Woodley laid out her plan for the future of the University.

“Our Strategic plan is outward focused.  It is truly focused on the value we can bring to the community,” Dr. Woodley said. “That’s how we win.That is how we achieve success – we focus on our value and we focus on doing the work every day that will make a difference in the community.”

Those goals include doubling the number of people who earn a degree, doubling research, a campus transformation plan and growing our own workforce – including K-12 teachers.


“These professionals are so badly needed in the Permian Basin,” she said. “We have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that our public school students receive the quality education they deserve.”

The University also plans to create an internship program to give students in every field of study ‘real-world’ experience and more hands-on learning.

“This is a win-win for our students and our industry partners. Internships and co-ops, along with capstone projects that connect our students to their careers long before they graduate, will be a differentiator for UT Permian Basin,” Dr. Woodley said. “This program will provide us an opportunity to gain a deep understanding of what our industry leaders need from our graduates and we will deliver on that service.” 

The Permian Basin is one of the most important places on Earth—and this is no overstatement. The Texas Tribune reports that the U.S. just surpassed Russia as the world’s top oil producer. The paper states that oil from our area will account for 80 percent of the growth in global supply over the next seven years.

“The University of Texas Permian Basin has a major role to play in the future success of West Texas and beyond - and we are up for the challenge,” Dr. Woodley said. “This is your university and we are here to serve.”