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View from the Chancellor's Office

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

UNT World Faculty & Staff:

With Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent announcement of a phased approach to safely reopen Texas businesses that have closed or moved to alternate models, the UNT System and our member institutions are preparing for the future. As innovators, scholars and problem-solvers, we are eager and prepared to help Texas and our home Dallas-Fort Worth region recover from the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From coronavirus health issues to the looming financial realities of shutting down our economy, it’s natural to be nervous. With more than 300,000 Texans filing for unemployment as of April 18, Gov. Abbott is trying to help our state's economy build back-up. And while we're hearing the term "reopen" a lot these days, I'm proud to say the UNT System and its member institutions have never closed – we may be fulfilling our missions a bit differently during the COVID-19 pandemic, but our commitment to students hasn't missed a beat. To ensure safety of students, faculty and staff, UNT World will keep doing it this way for now, so if you've been telecommuting, please continue to do so until you hear differently from your institution or supervisor.

Our system and university leadership teams are working around-the-clock to maintain safety precautions while planning for the summer and fall semesters. Last week during our weekly Chancellor's Council meeting, each UNT System President joined me in outlining our preliminary plans for the future. And the future is bright. As we prepare for summer and fall, our institutions have become stronger – particularly in community leadership, use of technology, collaborative partnerships and service to our students, faculty and staff.

Our universities will continue to deliver the vast majority of academic programming remotely this summer. This fall, we expect to resume face-to-face coursework with guidance from health officials to ensure safety of students, faculty and staff at all of our institutions, while also continuing to offer many courses remotely. Safety precautions will include additional cleaning/sanitization efforts and use of masks and/or PPE in some settings.

Our state and the world as a whole have changed with this pandemic – teaching and learning will continue to evolve, and our jobs may also change. But we will play an essential role in the economic recovery for training and re-training Texas’ workforce. Our work will make a difference in defining what Texas and the world look like after COVID-19 is defeated, and that purpose is exciting.

At the UNT System, we have done an incredible job maintaining focus on our missions to serve students in a safe environment, and that will continue to be our top priority as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. As we learn more about coronavirus and its impact on North Texas in the coming weeks, we will continue to look ahead and refine our plans for UNT World’s future.

UNT President Smatresk

UNT President Neal Smatresk will be hosting a virtual town hall via Microsoft Teams from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 4, in order to share campus updates and answer questions. UNT faculty and staff may submit questions to untpresident@unt.edu in advance of the town hall. MORE UNT NEWS

UNT Dallas food pantry

UNT Dallas and the North Texas Food Bank will hold a third mobile food pantry event on its campus tomorrow, April 30, from 9 a.m. to noon. In partnership with the National Guard, safety precautions have been established to limit any physical interaction with those handling and loading the boxes of food. MORE UNT DALLAS NEWS

Image of a doctor

UNT Health Science Center's COVID-19 testing site, operated by HSC employees and students, has already tested almost 400 people – primarily first responders and medical personnel. HSC students alone have put in more than 1,400 hours at the site, which is vital to keeping responders on the front lines.  MORE HSC NEWS

We Are North Texas Podcast Logo

This week I appeared on the We Are North Texas podcast with UNT System Chief Communications Officer Paul Corliss. As part of our conversation we discussed successes and challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I provided an update and look ahead on the heels of Gov. Abbott's announcement to “reopen” the Texas economy in phases. We will continue to spread good news through this podcast and have links to recent episodes below. CLICK HERE to watch my recent podcast conversation via YouTube.