UNT World Faculty & Staff:
The month of May has been a good one, UNT World – we’ve held safe and successful commencement ceremonies, we’re working to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us and we just received good news from the 87th Texas Legislature.
The final budget decisions from the Texas House and Senate are in and the UNT System did very well. The Legislature added a significant amount of formula funding for enrollment growth to both General Academic Institutions ($300 million) like UNT and UNT Dallas, as well as for Health Related Institutions ($80 million) like UNT Health Science Center. For UNT World, this led to roughly $24 million more in funding than we had anticipated.
We are grateful to the legislature for its support of higher education. Specifically, we appreciate the support and hard work of our delegation: Senator Jane Nelson (chairman of Senate Finance Committee), Senator Royce West (Vice Chairman of Senate Higher Education Committee), Senator Drew Springer, Representatives Lynn Stucky, Carl Sherman, and Charlie Geren. They were committed and relentless in representing our interests. I am extremely proud of our UNT System Government Relations team for their great work this biennium.
Below is the GR team's summary of our legislative outcomes:
Certainly, we still have many financial challenges ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic, but these significant funding increases speak to the resiliency of UNT World and our positive direction as we emerge from the pandemic.
UNT WORLD UNITES TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH
After enduring more than a year of unprecedented pandemic challenges, managing our mental health is more important than ever. That’s why UNT World, guided by UNT System Human Resources, united to create the #UNTWorldCares initiative this May for Mental Health Awareness Month. This included a series of livestream wellbeing webinars created and presented by faculty and staff from UNT, UNT Dallas and HSC. In addition, the UNT System communications team produced a video series featuring UNT World experts – Teresa Espino, UNT Dallas Counseling & Wellness Center; Dr. Priya Bui, HSC Clinical Chair of the Department of Pediatrics & Women’s Health; Jamaica Chapple, Ph.D., UNT System Assistant Vice Chancellor, and a licensed professional counselor; and Stephanie Kelton, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the UNT Student Health and Wellness Clinic – discussing mental health issues.
UNT, HSC PARTNER TO SERVE PHARMACY STUDENTS
UNT and the UNT Health Science Center College of Pharmacy have partnered to allow students in the HSC pharmacy program to earn dual credit, applying classes from their first year in the pharmacy college toward a Bachelor of Arts in biology from UNT. It’s a faster, cheaper option for students earning a bachelor’s degree while attending pharmacy college. “For those who wish to complete their bachelor’s degree, in addition to receiving a PharmD, the agreement will provide a time and cost-efficient pathway,” said Todd Lang, assistant dean of health professions at UNT. “Students also can pursue dual degree programs at HSC College of Pharmacy, such as the PharmD/MPH, PharmD/MS, or PharmD/PhD."
UNT WOMEN'S GOLF WINS 'LET THEM PLAY CLASSIC'
After being told they couldn't play at the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge because the course wasn't in "championship" condition, the Mean Green women's golf team thought their season had come to a sudden end. One week later, they were playing at the Let Them Play Classic, which was put together on the fly by sports blogger Sam "Riggs" Bozoian and featured 10 of the 12 teams that were left out to dry in Baton Rouge. Already Conference USA Champions, the Mean Green made the most of their extra chance to finish their season on the course by winning the tournament on May 21, beating seven top-50 teams. Junior Audrey Tan, who won the individual championship at the Conference USA tournament last month, brought home the individual title with a score of 9-under par. CLICK HERE to watch a TV feature on the team by WFAA.
On June 10 at 2 p.m., Dan Tenney, UNT System Vice Chancellor & Chief Financial Officer, will continue his “Ask Me Anything” series for UNT World faculty and staff. Moderated by UNT System Chief Communications Officer Paul Corliss, this quarter’s “Ask Me Anything” will include the following panelists answering work-related questions in a virtual format:
OBSERVING MEMORIAL DAY THIS WEEKEND
On Monday, May 31, we will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. This day of remembrance honors American military members who died in the line of duty.
Per the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Decoration Day (the precursor of Memorial Day) was established on May 5, 1868 as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of Civil War veterans killed in the line of duty. You can learn more about the origins of Memorial Day, and how to best observe this day of remembrance, at USMemorialDay.org and MemorialDayFoundation.org.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
As the 2020-21 academic year winds down, I wanted to take an opportunity to thank each of you for your incredible efforts, adaptability and resilience during this unprecedented time. Despite the many challenges presented to us by the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNT System and our member institutions enrolled a record 47,320 students, while also increasing our workplace engagement and giving so much to our communities in need.
There's no better way to commemorate the successes of this most challenging academic year than celebrating a record number of graduates across UNT World. With that in mind, listed below are the latest details on our Spring Commencement Ceremonies, which begin this week.
UNT: In-person Commencement Ceremonies will be held on April 30 and May 1 at Apogee Stadium in Denton. In addition, virtual College Recognition Ceremonies hosted by UNT's college deans will premiere on YouTube on April 30 and May 1. Full schedules for UNT's commencement ceremonies, as well as virtual recognition ceremonies, can be found here: UNT Commencement Schedules.
UNT Health Science Center: The 2021 Commencement Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to noon at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. The ceremony will also be livestreamed here: UNT HSC Commencement 2021 on Livestream.
UNT Dallas: The Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremony will be held on Saturday, August 14, at 8:30 a.m., at DeSoto ISD Football Stadium with safety protocols in place. In addition, UNT Dallas College of Law will hold a drive-through commencement ceremony on May 22 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the main UNT Dallas campus in southern Dallas.
Congratulations to our graduates and thank you to our faculty and staff!
UNT WORLD CELEBRATES DIVERSITY MONTH
April is Celebrate Diversity Month, a time to embrace and recognize the beautiful mix of cultures, backgrounds, generations and ideologies that make UNT World such a unique place. As part of our celebration, the UNT System communications team featured diverse leaders from each of our institutions, including (pictured clockwise from top left): Susan Harper, Ph.D., Coordinator of Activities, Student Affairs, UNT Dallas; Sylvia Trent-Adams, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, UNT HSC; Felecia Epps, Dean and Professor of Law, UNT Dallas College of Law; and Hanchen Huang, Ph.D., Dean, UNT College of Engineering. Additionally, our "We Are North Texas" Podcast featured a diverse panel from UNT Dallas that explored not only ethnic and cultural diversity on the campus, but also generational differences.
MEAN GREEN SPORTS CREATES NATIONAL BUZZ
Building on momentum created by the UNT men's basketball team's historic run in the NCAA Tournament last month, Mean Green Athletics has continued to make national headlines. On April 11, softball pitcher Hope Trautwein pitched a perfect game and struck out all 21 batters in a 3-0 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff. It was the first perfect game in Mean Green history and is the first perfect seven-inning game in NCAA Division I history with every out being a strikeout. Trautwein's accomplishment made news reels across the globe, including coverage by the New York Times, Washington Post, ESPN and hundreds of other outlets. Later in the month, on April 21, UNT's women’s golf team won its first conference championship in school history. UNT's Audrey Tan won the individual Conference USA championship, and her score of 207 is also a new 54-hole program record. Go Mean Green!
UNT SYSTEM PARTNERS WITH DMN ON PODCAST
On April 29, the UNT System launched a new podcast in partnership with The Dallas Morning News titled, "The Deep Side of Dallas." Hosted by UNT System Chief Communications Officer Paul Corliss and Dallas Morning News Editor Rudy Bush, the podcast will dive into news and issues through candid conversations with people making an impact in Dallas and all of North Texas. The UNT System produces the podcast and The Dallas Morning News distributes it. In the first episode, Dr. George Keaton, a historian and UNT alumnus, discussed Black history in Dallas, including the history of lynching in the city and the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, while also providing historic perspective on the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Corliss will also continue to host the "We Are North Texas" podcast, which focuses on on positive stories across UNT World.
UNT AND UNT DALLAS ANNOUNCE NEW APPOINTMENTS
Clayton Gibson, a licensed Certified Public Accountant with a track record of driving transformation through the engagement of teams and technology, has been named Vice President, Finance & Administration and Chief Financial Officer for UNT.
Gibson will start his appointment at UNT on June 7, leaving Alabama A&M University. In his role at Alabama A&M, Gibson managed 520 full-time employees, quadrupled institutional cash on hand through robust budgeting and process improvements, and oversaw growth of the annual budget by 33 percent.
UNT recently announced Karen Hutzel, an internationally recognized and community-minded arts leader, as its new Dean for the College of Visual Arts and Design. Dr. Hutzel comes to UNT from The Ohio State University, where she served as Chair of the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy.
UNT Dallas College of Law recently announced a key hire, naming Cynthia L. Fountaine as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law. Fountaine will arrive in Dallas this summer from Southern Illinois University, where she served as Professor of Law, following a stint leading SIU as Dean from 2010 to 2017.
As April comes to a close, teams across UNT World are preparing budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. FY2022 begins on Sept. 1, 2021, and – similar to last year – our finance teams are working through multiple financial models based on uncertainties related to coronavirus and other factors. We also continue to work with legislators on State of Texas funding for 2022-23 and remain optimistic.
I am also working with our university presidents and leadership teams to prepare for the upcoming UNT System Board of Regents Meeting. This quarter's meeting will be a one-day session, held virtually on May 13.
Thank you for your efforts to help us thrive during this challenging academic year – I feel confident we have turned the corner in our fight against COVID-19 and look forward to seeing more students on campus as we head into summer.
All the best,
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
What a difference a month makes! While February closed with frustration over winter storms and power outages, March brought new milestones and accolades to UNT World and – perhaps most importantly – progress in our battle against COVID-19.
On March 29, Texas will become the largest state to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults. North Texas also reached a symbolic milestone in the fight against COVID-19 this week when Parkland Hospital in Dallas closed its COVID-19 intensive care units.
What does this mean for UNT World?
We will continue to follow CDC recommendations that are continually evolving. Given the rate of vaccinations and the high probability that the recommendations will be significantly relaxed, we are currently planning for the following at each location:
Eligible current UNT employees and students, and UNT World employees can now register to be vaccinated at the UNT Student Health and Wellness Center: http://bit.ly/untvform. Once you complete the registration process, you will receive further communication about your appointment. Email questions to Stephanie Fields-Hawkins.
For more information about other locations to get a COVID-19 vaccination, contact your health plan, primary care provider or click on the county links below (you may register in any county):
Collin County | Dallas County | Denton County | Tarrant County
We’ll discuss our progress in the fight against COVID-19 further in our quarterly UNT World Town Hall (additional details below), which will be held virtually at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 29, and streamed live at: http://untsystem.edu/MarchTownHall.
MEAN GREEN MEN'S BASKETBALL MAKES HISTORIC RUN
Congratulations to the record-breaking Mean Green Men's Basketball team for their hard work and determination this season. The team earned a spot in Round 2 of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history when they defeated fourth-seeded Purdue, 78-69, in an overtime victory on March 19. The Mean Green eventually fell to fifth-seeded Villanova on March 21, but not before delivering millions of dollars in exposure and immeasurable pride to the UNT community. Congratulations to the team and thank you to the Conference USA champions for representing UNT so well.
UNT DALLAS COLLEGE OF LAW NAMED MOST DIVERSE
Pre-Law Magazine recently released its annual rankings for diversity, and our own University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law was ranked No. 1 in the nation. Per the magazine: This year, University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law takes top honors in our diversity rankings. The upstart school has improved steadily in this ranking in recent years. It ranked No. 8 in 2019. UNT Dallas College of Law closely matches the U.S. average for the number of Hispanics, Asians, Blacks and Native Americans.
HSC BRINGS VACCINE TO UNDERSERVED COMMUNITY
UNT Health Science Center, in partnership with Tarrant County, recently opened a COVID-19 vaccination site in Fort Worth’s historically underserved Stop Six neighborhood. The new vaccination hub is part of a collaboration between HSC and Tarrant County to expand access to the vaccine in historically underserved and hard-to-reach communities. HSC students will work to help register residents for the vaccine.
“HSC is excited to partner with Tarrant County and leaders in the Stop Six community to bring this vaccination opportunity directly to the people who live here,” said Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, HSC Chief Strategy Officer.
INAUGURAL COHORT OF LEADERS GRADUATE
Congratulations to the first cohort of graduates from our new Foundational Leadership Academy (FLA) – a system-wide employee leadership development program sponsored by UNT System HR Organizational Development & Engagement (ODE). Graduates came from all UNT System institutions and attended weekly leadership sessions, designing group projects that benefit or enrich UNT World. Some examples of group projects are improving the Leave Without Pay process, creating an employee parking perks program, and developing programs to improve employee engagement and morale.
As part of our continued efforts to keep faculty and staff informed of the UNT System’s priorities and key projects, I will host this quarter’s UNT World Town Hall at 1 p.m. on March 29. As part of the program, UNT System Chief Communications Officer Paul Corliss will moderate a Q&A session with UNT System Vice Chancellors Sheraine Gilliam-Holmes (Chief Human Capital Officer), Chris McCoy (Chief Information Officer) and Jack Morton (Government Relations).
The Town Hall will be held virtually via Zoom and will be streamed lived (and later archived) at UNTSystem.edu/MarchTownHall.
UNT WORLD VISION: STRATEGIC ROADMAPS TO MAXIMIZE ALIGNMENT
We are driven by our system-wide UNT World Vision to "Transform the future of North Texas and beyond by being accessible, caring, innovative, community-focused and industry-connected — bringing out the full potential of those we serve."
With that vision in mind, our UNT System Headquarters Cabinet participated in a planning retreat last week and shared future roadmaps for discussion and alignment on next level down planning. Our next step is sharing and discussing these roadmaps with our university presidents and other campus leaders in order to refine our approach and maximize alignment across UNT World.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION UPDATE
The UNT System is committed to an inclusive culture that celebrates our many differences and finds authentic ways to come together and affirm the value of our diverse students, faculty and staff. We have a rich legacy that is built on the philosophy that higher education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of race, gender identity/expression, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status or diverse perspectives.
With that in mind, we recently launched a national search for a dedicated Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) who will report directly to me as part of our critical efforts to advance our culture of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I). This individual will collaborate with campus leaders and advisory groups across campuses to:
This important opening has been posted to our UNT System job site for applicants, and our search committee will work with me to fill the position this spring.
I also wanted to congratulate UNT's Division of Institutional Equity & Diversity on holding a very impressive Equity & Diversity Conference earlier this week. DE&I is a focus at every campus and location across UNT World and thoughtful events such as this keep our important efforts in the space at the forefront.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
February is Black History Month – a time for people to come together, learn from the past, embrace an inclusive future, and honor our commitment to standing united against racism and all forms of discrimination. Across UNT World we celebrate Black History Month and the contributions African Americans have made to our nation’s history with host of programs, initiatives and experiences.
Through a short video series produced by the UNT System Office of Communications & Marketing, African American faculty and staff from across UNT World provided their unique perspectives to colleagues on what black history month means to them. Please click the video image above, or visit http://bit.ly/UNTSBlackHistoryMonth to watch.
In addition to the video series, our We Are North Texas podcast explored Black History Month with Mean Green Hall of Famers Charles “Chuck” Beatty (UNT football, 1966-68) and Willie Davis (UNT basketball, 1964-68). Beatty and Davis candidly share their experiences as Black athletes in the 1960s in a largely segregated Texas. UNT was one of the few Division I universities in the state to include Black athletes during this era. The university helped Beatty and Davis reach the professional ranks in their respective sports, while also providing an education that equipped them for success in life after their playing careers. Beatty, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, used his UNT degree to become 5-time mayor of Waxahachie and later served on the UNT System Board of Regents. Davis went on to a successful career as a Fort Worth ISD administrator.
UNT World celebrates the diverse contributions that every student, faculty and staff member brings to our communities. We have a rich legacy built on the philosophy that higher education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of race, gender identity/expression, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status or diverse perspectives. And with two Minority Serving Institutions and a system-wide student body that is “minority-majority,” the UNT System’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion remains steadfast.
HEROES ACROSS UNT WORLD HELP WEATHER STORMS
From Denton to Dallas to Fort Worth to Frisco, all of our campuses and office locations were impacted by last week's winter storms, record cold temperatures and related power outages. Through the extraordinary efforts of teams across UNT World, we continued to care for our students while working through the many associated challenges the winter weather and outages presented, enabling us to re-open. No matter how difficult the challenge, our teams continue to be resilient, dedicated and adaptable – whether it’s the pandemic, winter storms, power outages or other obstacles, we continue to navigate challenges while working to fulfill our important missions across UNT World.
UNT DALLAS FIGHTS HUNGER IN WAKE OF ICY STORMS
UNT Dallas has partnered with the North Texas Food Bank throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to help feed students and community members in need through monthly mobile food pantry events held on campus. In the wake of last week's frigid temperatures and widespread power outages throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth region, UNTD worked quickly to pull together a special food distribution event to help many hungry families struggling to find food after the winter storm crippled the state’s power supply and left grocery store shelves empty throughout North Texas.
Learn more about this very special event at UNT Dallas from WFAA.
UNT SYSTEM CFO NAMED FINALIST FOR D-CEO AWARD
This week, D CEO Magazine announced Dan Tenney, UNT System Vice Chancellor for Finance & Chief Financial Officer, as a finalist for the Dallas-based magazine's 2021 Financial Executives Awards program, presented in partnership with the Dallas CPA Society, Financial Executives International and the Association for Corporate Growth. Working closely with the Chief Financial Officers of each UNT System institution and their campus teams, Tenney has helped lead a system-wide effort to mitigate the many financial challenges UNT World has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit D Magazine for a full list of award finalists.
As part of our continued efforts to keep faculty and staff informed of the UNT System’s priorities and key projects, I will host this quarter’s UNT World Town Hall at 2 p.m. on March 23. As part of the program, UNT System Chief Communications Officer Paul Corliss will moderate a Q&A session with UNT System Vice Chancellors Sheraine Gilliam-Holmes (Chief Human Capital Officer), Chris McCoy (Chief Information Officer) and Jack Morton (Government Relations).
The Town Hall will be held virtually via Zoom and will be streamed lived (and later archived) at UNTSystem.edu/MarchTownHall. If you have specific work-related questions you would like us to address during the Town Hall, please email email@example.com.
The 87th Texas Legislature is now in session and clearly focused on reigniting our state’s economy as more Texans receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and we begin to concentrate on emerging from the pandemic.
Earlier this week, the UNT System presidents and I testified before the Texas Senate Appropriations Committee and shared the many successes across UNT World during this challenging time, including our community connectedness, seamless use of technology and outstanding customer service to students that helped us achieve record enrollment.
With March approaching, we are a full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and yet our UNT System and member institutions continue to grow stronger – due in large part to the talent, hard work, adaptability and resiliency of faculty and staff throughout UNT World.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
It’s hard to believe we are already one month into 2021. While the year began with tension in our nation’s capital, there is reason for hope and optimism as our elected leaders look to find common ground for the greater good of our nation as we overcome so many current challenges.
Political views aside, it is exciting to see a woman as Vice President for the first time in American history. Today, we can sincerely tell our sons and daughters that they can truly become anything they want when they grow up. The inauguration of Vice President Harris signifies a new era in our country and reinforces the culture of equity, diversity and inclusion we foster across UNT World.
With the spring semester now in full swing, our UNT World is bustling across all locations. Listed below are several short updates to help keep our team members informed:
As with last semester, we continue to operate a hybrid model of sorts for both classroom and office activities due to coronavirus safety protocols – continuing to limit in-person interactions when possible and maximizing space for safe social distancing when in-person is necessary. With COVID-19 vaccines still largely unavailable to lower-risk populations and the virus continuing to spike across North Texas, the safety of students, faculty and staff remain our top priority. Both UNT and UNT Health Science Center continue to operate testing centers, and both institutions are vaccination centers as well. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit the UNT System home page and click on the appropriate link for your location.
The 87th Texas Legislature has convened as of Jan. 12, however the pandemic has left much of the actual operations of the House and Senate in an evolving situation. Activities on most legislation is currently pending the appointment of House committees and finalization of other organizational issues. The appropriations legislation that is critical to our funding has been filed in both House and Senate Bills and is at a reasonable starting point, given the state’s many revenue challenges due to the pandemic. We will be working hard during this session to reinstate reductions in these bills as our institutions are critical to economic recovery in Texas.
‘ASK ME ANYTHING’ EVENT PROVIDES EMPLOYEES WITH ADDITIONAL TOUCHPOINT
With continued emphasis on employee communications during the pandemic, UNT System Chief Financial Officer Dan Tenney and Chief Communications Officer Paul Corliss hosted their second “Ask Me Anything” discussion on Jan. 21. The livestream included a candid Q&A with a panel of leaders covering a wide-range of topics. To watch the full video of the Q&A, featuring UNT System Vice Chancellors Sheraine Gilliam-Holmes, Steve Maruszewski and Chris McCoy, as well as UNT Health Science Center Vice President Chuck Fox, click here. Our next “Ask Me Anything” is scheduled for April 29 – details to be announced in the near future.
UNT AND UNT DALLAS LAUDED FOR SUPPORT OF FIRST-GEN STUDENTS
Local nonprofit ScholarShot recently released its annual report card that ranks Texas universities for support of first-generation college students. UNT ranks No. 1 in the state and UNT Dallas tied for No. 3 (UNTD topped the list in 2019). For 2020, universities were judged in the categories: Student Outcomes, COVID-19 Response, Community Support, Academic Engagement, Financial Management and Intervention. Click here to view the ScholarShot report card in its entirety.
TARRANT COUNTY PARTNERS WITH HSC TO EXPAND VACCINATION ACCESS
Tarrant County has entered a partnership with our UNT Health Science Center to help vaccinate more people in the county. The partnership was approved last week during a county commissioner’s court meeting where Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams – HSC’s Sr. Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer – provided recommendations. Dr. Trent-Adams, former acting U.S. Surgeon General, joined HSC in August, 2020. Click here for more from NBC5 and MSN.com.
UNT NAMED A TOP 10 DESTINATION FOR TRANSFER STUDENTS
According to U.S. News and World Report, UNT is a top 10 destination for transfer students, In Fall 2019, we welcomed 4,152 new transfer students. The average number for the 1,138 ranked colleges and universities providing the information in the annual U.S. News survey was 497. Congratulations to President Smatresk and his team on this student-centric achievement, and thank you to those who have helped make the transfer process a smooth one for students, and fostering an environment where they can thrive and fulfill their goals.
UNT SYSTEM ORG CHANGES FOCUS ON EFFICIENCY AND SERVICE
Guided by stakeholder input across UNT World, this week we announced organization changes in Human Resources and Procurement that go into effect on Feb. 1. The HR realignment will better serve our institutions with a renewed focus on providing services specifically tailored to the unique needs of each campus. The Procurement restructure is designed to modernize processes and streamline functionality across our campuses and UNT System headquarters in order to create sustainable efficiencies.
LATEST PODCAST FEATURES GRAMMY-WINNING UNT ALUM OF DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
UNT DIVISION OF INSTITUTIONAL EQUITY & DIVERSITY HOSTING VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
UNT SYSTEM BOARD OF REGENTS TO MEET VIRTUALLY ON FEB. 4-5
Thank you for your continued hard work and adaptability!
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
This has certainly been a year like no other due to COVID-19, but there is much to be grateful for as we approach Winter Break and the end of the calendar year. Earlier this week, Presidents Mong, Smatresk and Williams joined me for our final UNT World Town Hall of 2020 and shared many of the wonderful accomplishments that all of you helped our universities and system reach. More than 1,000 employees watched the LiveStream of the Town Hall and those who could not join us may watch the virtual discussion in its entirety at UNTSystem.edu.
As we approach the end of the calendar year, we have posted our UNT System Annual Reportto our website and will distribute hard copies to each Regent in early 2021. In addition, we created a Year in Review Video that highlights our many accomplishments and successes, despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19.
HSC INVESTING $7M TO STUDY ALZHEIMER'S IN AFRICAN AMERICANS
UNT Health Science Center recently announced a $7 million investment to research the biological differences that put African Americans at greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease than other populations, and to develop new treatments that prevent the deadly disease. Among people 65 and older, African Americans have the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, followed by Hispanics and non-Latino whites, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. African Americans will now join Mexican Americans and non-Latino Whites in HSC’s historic HABLE study, which recently received an additional $45 million from the National Institute on Aging. CLICK FOR MORE
UNT DALLAS COLLEGE OF LAW POSTS ALL-TIME HIGH BAR RESULTS
The UNT Dallas College of Law is tracking toward full accreditation next year and reached a key milestone in its young history, with nearly 75 percent of its first-time examinees passing the Texas Bar Examination from October, 2020. With 74.19 percent of first-time takers passing the bar, UNTD's pass rate not only exceeded 70 percent for the first time, the College of Law's pass rate also topped the 73.62 percent average for first-time examinees from all accredited Texas law schools. The College of Law's pass rate of 45 percent for repeat examinees also exceeded the 40.68 percent average pass rate of repeat test takers from accredited law schools across the state.
MEAN GREEN FOOTBALL GOING BOWLING IN MYRTLE BEACH
UNT Football has accepted an invitation to play in the inaugural edition of the Myrtle Beach Bowl on Monday, Dec. 21, at Brooks Stadium on the campus of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, against Sun Belt foe Appalachian State. The game will kick off at 1:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN. This marks the fourth time in five seasons that Coach Seth Littrell has guided the Mean Green to a bowl game, and it's the 12th bowl appearance in UNT History. The Mean Green concluded the regular season with one of the top offenses in the nation, ranking seventh in total offense (515.0 yards per game) and 24th in scoring (35.1 points per game).
SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN NEED THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
When I’m asked why I have such passion for my work the answer is simple – our students, nearly 50,000 strong across the University of North Texas, UNT Dallas and UNT Health Science Center. Enabling their success to become the leaders who will shape the future of Dallas-Fort Worth and beyond is what we’re all about. But, as this holiday season arrives with the extraordinary challenges and uncertainties of COVID-19 still with us, too many of our students are facing mounting obstacles to continue their education.
How can we help?
In the spirit of giving this holiday season, I encourage you to consider a tax-deductible gift in support of students at your UNT System institution of choice – made quick-and-easy through payroll deduction. Your full gift will go directly toward helping students at the campus of your choice, and even the smallest gifts add up and can help shape the future of a student in need.
Each UNT System campus is ready to help you make your gift – simply click the links below to connect directly with your institution of choice:
Your support means more than ever right now, and any gift will make a difference.
Thank you for all of your hard work in 2020 – I hope your winter break is safe and relaxing.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has certainly been a year like no other. But there is much to be grateful for as we approach the Fall Holiday Break this week.
UNT World has not only survived the fall semester, we have also improved our financial posture, while growing enrollment, degrees awarded, research, endowments and workplace engagement since last year. During last week’s virtual Board of Regents meeting, one of our most-respected regents made the following comment:
“In March there was so much risk that I didn’t see how we were going to make it through. To contrast that with where we are now … it is remarkable. I see companies that had the same risk and they didn’t come out so well. We owe that to your leadership and the leadership across this system.”
Powerful words and a testament to all of you. Our faculty and staff have been resilient and adaptable. Your efforts in mitigating COVID-19 risks – from simply wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing protocols, to the many volunteers helping with contact tracing across our system, to our clinics and health workers, to our maintenance workers and cleaning crews – are making a difference.
UNT HOLDS SOCIALLY-RESPONSIBLE OUTDOOR COMMENCEMENT
About 2,700 people — Fall graduates and their guests (limited to two each for social distancing purposes) — took advantage of the in-person opportunity to celebrate all they've accomplished at 2020 Fall Commencement on Sunday in Apogee Stadium. The event included the ceremonial conferral of degrees and the turning of tassels and rings. "Earning a college degree is a tremendous accomplishment and something that always deserves major celebration," President Smatresk told the graduates. "When you add a pandemic into the mix, it prompts unexpected changes to nearly every area of life, your ability to persist and complete what you started many years ago, and it makes it yet more impressive that you're here today."
UNT WORLD HONORED FOR RENOVATION OF UNT DALLAS LAW CENTER
The AIA Dallas Design Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in architectural design by AIA Dallas chapter members and AIA Northeast Texas section members. The Design Awards announced the historic transformation of Old City Hall into the UNT Dallas Law Center as a 2020 Winner for its responsiveness to beauty, poetry, site condition and context, inspiration, process, and environmental, economic and social impact. Congratulations to the UNT System and UNT Dallas team members who helped lead this remarkable project. CLICK FOR MORE.
HSC RESEARCH HELPS IDENTIFY ECONOMIC GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES
Startup businesses have a substantial impact on job creation in Tarrant County and could be a key to the recovery from the economic fallout of COVID-19, according to new research funded by The University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth. New companies — defined as businesses zero to 1 year old — created 25,157 jobs in 2018 and more than 25,000 jobs in Tarrant County every year from 2013 to 2018, according to the Fall 2020 Jobs Report released by Sparkyard, a free resource to connect entrepreneurs to resources. The report is first-of-its-kind research in Texas and represents a new way to show the impact that new firms have on job creation in our local economy. CLICK FOR MORE.
NEW HR LEADER SET TO JOIN UNT WORLD IN 2021
Following a national search, we recently named Sheraine Gilliam-Holmes as the UNT System’s new Vice Chancellor for Organizational Effectiveness & Chief Human Capital Officer – Gilliam-Holmes will begin her new position on Jan. 2, 2021. Sheraine spent the last two years at Austin Peay State University as Executive Director & Chief Human Resources Officer, and previously served in HR leadership positions for The City University of New York (CUNY) System from 2012 to 2018.
A member of the National Board of Directors for the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), Sheraine will replace Dan Tenney as our HR leader. Dan filled in admirably as Interim Chief Human Capital Officer over the past three months – in addition to his full-time role as UNT System Vice Chancellor & Chief Financial Officer – following the departure of Barbara Abercrombie in September.
UNT SYSTEM ED&I TEAM HELPS SHINE THOUGHTFUL LIGHT ON FALL HOLIDAY BREAK
Recently, our UNT System Human Resources team that is responsible for equity, diversity and inclusion adopted the term “Fall Holiday Break” in lieu of “Thanksgiving Break” for this week’s annual November respite from the office and classroom. Be sure to visit ED&I's new Calendar of Holidays & Observances.
There are many recent articles that take a deeper look at the complex history of the Thanksgiving holiday, including this recent piece in USA Today. And while we recognize “Fall Holiday Break” as a more inclusive term for the coming long weekend, rest assured that I am thankful for all that you do and hope your time off is safe, relaxing and fulfilling.
COVID-19 SPIKE REMINDS US ALL TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS
As positive COVID-19 cases continue to spike in North Texas and beyond, please remain diligent and mindful of CDC guidelines for events and gatherings. HSC's DayXDay website continues to offer many helpful tips and news items to help us all through this challenging time. Leadership teams across UNT World will continue making the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff our top priority.
Be safe this long weekend!
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
Quick check in – how are you holding up during the coronavirus pandemic?
These are challenging times for many of us. Across the globe, people are feeling the economic effects of the pandemic, as well as related stressors such as childcare/schooling, lack of social interaction or simply getting sick.
If you need support for interpersonal health, please don’t hesitate to engage with our Employee Assistance Program, which offers free counseling sessions to benefits-eligible faculty and staff, as well as to your dependents. Our system-wide well-being program – In the Green: UNT World Well-Being – also offers interpersonal health resources and virtual events.
I also want to hear how you are doing from a work standpoint. How can our leadership make your job easier and eliminate as much work-related stress as possible?
Our goal, across the UNT System, is to be a “Best Place to Work,” and that’s why we ask our faculty and staff to anonymously provide input as to how we can improve UNT World via the Gallup Engagement Survey. This annual inquiry is intended to provide direct guidance from our most important resource – faculty and staff who are fulfilling UNT World’s important missions – so we can provide the very best employment experience possible.
This year’s Gallup Survey was launched on Oct. 26, with a hard deadline to complete the survey by Nov. 6 – just one week from today. It only takes a few minutes to complete. Here is a brief snapshot of the participation rates per campus so far:
UNT: 45% participation
UNT Dallas: 42% participation
HSC: 55% participation
UNT System Administration: 61% participation
If you have not yet completed the survey, please provide your anonymous feedback to us via Gallup. Once complete, your insights will provide Presidents Mong, Smatresk, Williams and me with four years of rich data to analyze and help us build workplace engagement strategies. So please respond before it’s too late!
For those who haven’t yet taken the survey, a reminder is on its way from the Gallup organization (subject line: [EXT] You’re Invited to Participate). Your voice is an essential part of our effort to make UNT World the very best it can be for faculty and staff, and your participation will make a difference.
HSC PROFESSOR HELPS TO FOSTER DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, with contributions from the HSC School of Public Health, has released a set of recommendations for building a culture of fairness, respect and inclusion in health professions learning environments. Dr. Stephan Davis of HSC contributed to the Foundation’s report and development of four broad recommendations and specific action steps for addressing forms of harmful bias and eliminating discrimination, to make diversity, equity and inclusion top priorities in learning environments and in practice.
UNT WORLD VIDEO SERIES CELEBRATES HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH WITH VIDEO SERIES
The UNT System Office of Communications & Marketing led a virtual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15) by producing a series of videos featuring Latinx faculty, staff and alumni from across UNT World. Each interview subject for the video series discussed what Hispanic Heritage means to them in a short vignette that was distributed via social media. CLICK HERE for a YouTube! playlist that includes all seven of the short videos.
UNT PART OF $1.5 MILLION GRANT TO INNOVATE 3D PRINTED MATERIALS
Wonbong Choi and Yijie Jiang, engineering professors at UNT, will collaborate with the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest U.S. Department of Energy science and energy laboratory, as part of a $1.5 million grant from the DOE to advance 3D printed materials for automotive body frames. Choi and Jiang will conduct their research over the next three years in the UNT Center for Agile and Adaptive Additive Manufacturing, one of the most advanced university research facilities in the nation for materials analysis. CAAAM was launched in 2019 with a $10 million appropriation by the State of Texas Legislature.
UNT DALLAS TRAILBLAZERS BEGIN INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS
The UNT Dallas men’s and women’s cross country teams became the university's first program to compete in intercollegiate athletics, participating in five competitive events this fall. The Trailblazers compete at the NAIA level and plan to launch men’s and women’s basketball, as well as men’s and women’s track & field, during the 2020-21 academic year. UNT Dallas Director of Athletics Jack Allday paused to recognize the historic launch of intercollegiate competition for UNT Dallas: “This is something (the cross country team) will proudly carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
CHANCELLOR AND PRESIDENTS TO PARTICIPATE IN LAR HEARINGS ON NOV. 5
In preparation for the upcoming 87th Texas Legislative Sessions, which begins in January 2021, Presidents Mong, Smatresk, Williams and I will be participating in LAR (Legislative Appropriations Request) Hearings with the Governor’s Office and Legislative Budget Board staff on Nov. 5. As state-funded entities, the UNT System and member institutions submit funding requests and priorities for consideration by the State Legislature. These hearings will be a precursor to additional testimony that the presidents and I expect to provide to appropriate House and Senate committees for higher education and appropriations in 2021.
MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE, BE HEARD
On Oct. 22, UNT System Vice Chancellor & Chief Financial Officer Dan Tenney launched a new virtual event series for faculty and staff across UNT World titled, “Ask Me Anything.” The first “Ask Me Anything” discussion included a panel of senior leaders from across the UNT System asking pre-submitted and live questions from employees. If you did not have a chance to participate or view the discussion live, archive video has been posted online at UNTSystem.edu.
In addition to the new “Ask Me Anything” series, we will hold a virtual Town Hall on Dec. 15 from 1 - 2:30 p.m. that will include Presidents Mong, Smatresk, Williams and me. The Town Hall will reflect on the fall semester and will introduce our spring plans across UNT World. The Town Hall will be available at this link: UNTSystem.edu/DecemberTownHall. If you have specific work-related questions you would like us to address during the Town Hall, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
America is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the constitutional right to vote. Voting brings us together as Americans and allows us to have a say in the future of our local community and country.
Earlier this week, UNT Professor of Political Science Elizabeth Oldmixon, who also serves as Faculty Director for UNT at Frisco, joined our “We Are North Texas” podcast. I encourage you to listen, as Dr. Oldmixon previews the upcoming presidential election and discusses how politics continue to evolve with new forms of media, technology and data.
As I’m sure you know, this coming Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day across North Texas and America. If you have not already, I'd like to encourage all of our eligible employees to exercise your right to vote.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Faculty & Staff:
Now roughly one month into the fall semester, I’m happy to report that while nothing is flawless, our coronavirus safety protocols are working. Below is a summary of data we released on Sept. 18 as part of a formal public information request by the New York Times.
At UNT, the total number of COVID-19 tests completed as part of our university program is 3,403. This includes random testing and patient-requested testing performed at our Student Health & Wellness Center, as well as routine testing performed as part of our NCAA Division I athletics testing program. Out of these we have had just 69 positives. In addition faculty, staff and students have voluntarily reported 152 positive tests performed by others. Between UNT Dallas and UNT Health Science Center, we have less than 40 positive cases reported.
This good news doesn't mean we can put our guard down, as we've seen several institutions of higher education become coronavirus hot spots. Some positive COVID-19 cases are inevitable, but by continuing to follow safety guidelines we can continue to keep those numbers low. When positive cases occur, our contract tracing protocols will help isolate exposure and limit the spread of the virus – your support of these efforts is greatly appreciated.
We will continue to put the safety of our students, faculty, staff and communities first, and sometimes we will have to make hard choices UNT made the responsible decision to cancel this Saturday's football game at the University of Houston due to positive COVID-19 cases. Per Vice President & Director of Athletics Wren Baker: “Our student-athlete health and safety is the priority in every decision we make and that is what this difficult decision is based on. We are hopeful we can resume safe activities soon.” Thank you our system-wide coronavirus response team for creating and executing a plan that's keeping our students, faculty and staff as safe as possible during this challenging time.
UNT announced a 4.1% enrollment increase to a record 40,796 students for Fall 2020. Additionally, our flagship shared a dramatic rise in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best College Rankings, moving up to No. 121 among the nation’s top public schools, leaping upward from its 140th ranking last year.UNT also is ranked 44th among American universities in social mobility, a jump from its 96th placement in 2020.
UNT Dallas also announced a new enrollment record, with 4,171 students this fall – a 3% increase from last fall. UNTD also celebrated its climb in three categories in the U.S. News & World Report 2021 Best Colleges Rankings for regional universities in the West – moving to No. 60 Overall (up from No. 77); No. 28 Top Public Schools (up from No. 37); and No. 71 Top Performers on Social Mobility (up from No. 91).
HSC will administer the Texas portion of a $12 million National Institutes of Health award for outreach and engagement efforts in ethnic and racial minority communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Part of NIH's Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities, the Texas Consortium will be led by Dr. Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, Regents Professor and Founding Director for the HSC Texas Center for Health Disparities.
The upcoming UNT System Board of Regents meeting on November 18-19 will be held virtually due to coronavirus, as we continue to follow the state’s guidelines for indoor gatherings of 10 or more during the pandemic. A link to view the board meeting via livestream will be posted to the UNT System web site prior to the meeting.
Fall means election season, and I'd like to encourage all of our eligible employees to exercise their right to vote. Voting brings us together as Americans and allows us to have a say in the future of our local community and country.
The deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the November 3, 2020 election is October 5, 2020. This can be either the postmark date or the date the application is received in the office of the voter registrar. You can obtain a voter registration application from your voter registrar's office, libraries, most post offices, and high schools. You can also fill out a voter registration application online or request a postage-paid application be mailed to you.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT System Faculty & Staff:
Congratulations! Fall classes – some in-person and some delivered remotely – are in full swing and we are showing one another mutual respect by following coronavirus risk management guidelines, wearing face coverings, social distancing and monitoring ourselves for virus symptoms. It’s a different time for everyone, but we are continuing to fill our important missions because of your resilience and adaptability.
Leaders across the UNT System also deserve kudos for helping all of our institutions mitigate the many financial challenges coronavirus has presented to higher education. While the financial challenges of COVID-19 have been immense, our proactive efforts to address the financial challenges associated with COVID-19 resulted in savings of over $35m for the current year.
Budgets for Fiscal Year 2021 were presented to and approved by the UNT System Board of Regents on August 13. With the hard work and commitment of leaders throughout UNT World, these budgets also included strong mitigation plans for the upcoming year and long-term efficiencies that will help us maintain a strong financial future well beyond the pandemic.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn and UNTHSC President Michael Williams teamed up to write an important op-ed for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the rural healthcare crisis in Texas. Over the past decade, 21 rural Texas hospitals have closed. Thirty-two counties have no doctor, and an additional 23 have only one. COVID-19 has compounded these problems. Small hospitals with limited to no intensive-care capacity have been completely overwhelmed.
UNT launched a campuswide Health and Safety Awareness Campaign to help community members understand coronavirus risk management guidelines on campus. The Division of University Brand Strategy and Communications led this effort and the result is an impactful, campaign that integrates fun videos, interactive social media and other communications strategies to help students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors mitigate coronavirus risk.
To launch its national Blockchain Innovation Challenge that calls on teams to design the new infrastructure for the future of education and employment, the American Council on Education created a video that spotlights UNT Dallas as an example of a blockchain technology success story. UNT Dallas uses blockchain technology in its GreenLight platform that allows students to securely store and share their transcripts, along with other verified records.
On August 10 we held a UNT World Town Hall to discuss safety protocols at each campus and location, as well as answer challenging Human Resources questions. Thank you to Vice Chancellors Steve Maruszewski and Barbara Abercrombie for answering tough questions and thanks to our campus and system HR leads for providing location-specific briefings. If you missed the Town Hall, please click the image above to stream archive video, or simply visit: UNTSystem.edu/covid-19-town-hall.
Given the challenges all of us are facing due to coronavirus, it is more important than ever for our leaders to listen to the UNT World community. With that in mind, the Gallup Engagement Survey will launch in October for all UNT System institutions and UNT System Administration. The inquiry is intended to provide direct input from faculty and staff who are fulfilling UNT World’s important missions.
CLICK HERE for more on why we are moving forward with the Gallup Engagement Survey this fall and look for additional details from the campus presidents and me in the near future.
Thank you for all of your hard work – let's have a great fall!
Lesa B. Roe