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
UNT System Faculty & Staff:
As the State of Texas continues to re-open in phases, our COVID-19 action team is working diligently on planning and implementing phased campus and office re-openings across UNT World. Each institution, as well as UNT System Administration, is committed to keeping students, faculty and staff safe with safety precautions such as additional sanitization measures, reallocation of spaces to enable social distancing, the continued use of remote learning/working when possible and the installation of signage to encourage social distancing, sanitization and other safety measures.
Currently most faculty and staff across UNT World are working remotely and that will remain the case for many this summer. If you are currently working remotely, you should continue to do so until instructed otherwise by your supervisor. Each UNT System campus and office is different, so it’s important to continue reading campus and/or location-specific announcements. Please visit with your supervisor for any questions on if/when you should be returning to the office.
While this situation remains fluid as coronavirus circumstances evolve, below is an update of what we know and where we are headed as a unified UNT System.
As our campuses and offices begin to open in phases, we are following COVID-19 safety guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). All relevant UNT System risk management guidelines can be found on the UNT System web site and each UNTS institution also has its own coronavirus web site with updates specific to that campus.
Below is a short status update for each UNTS institution and a link to each coronavirus web site that includes specific details by location.
UNT System Administration: https://www.untsystem.edu/covid-19
As circumstance continue to change, the UNT System’s overall strategy for physical return to the workplace will remain gradual and driven by our business needs, with utmost consideration taken for the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. At all times the strategy will be focused on minimizing risk, while simultaneously optimizing our performance and the services we provide to our institutions. With this in mind, physical interaction will be minimized and the safety of the physical environment will be maximized.
As part of our long-term planning, we have formed a cross-institutional team to analyze business processes, organizational structures and strategic sourcing efforts to help us find sustainable ways to thrive over the long-term. From an economic standpoint we are planning responsibly based on the latest estimates of financial impact by COVID-19 and creating budget plans based on multiple scenarios. While enrollment for the fall remains positive, we continue to run financial models to understand negative impacts from potential losses in enrollment of both domestic and international students, student housing/dining fees, intercollegiate athletics revenue, summer camps and state funding.
Thank you for continued adaptability. We appreciate your support of these plans to ensure safety at our campuses and office facilities.
Lesa B. Roe
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 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
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
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.
Thank you for your continued support and efforts to work through challenges during this unique time – remember that with change, comes opportunity.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT World Team Members:
I hope you are well as conditions continue to evolve with the coronavirus threat – the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remains the top priority across the UNT System.
The Dallas-Fort Worth region that all of our institutions call home has reported the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Texas, making it more important than ever to take precautions designed to help reduce the spread of the virus so our hospitals and healthcare clinics aren’t overwhelmed.
In line with Dallas County’s new shelter-in-place rules, which go into effect at 11:59 p.m. tonight, we will be closing all UNT System Administration offices for on-site access – remote working will continue.
Only security staff will remain in the building at 1901 Main Street in Dallas, beginning tomorrow, March 24. Similarly, UNT System Administration offices at the Business Services Center, Woodhill Square and Discovery Park in Denton will limit on-site staff to designated personnel only. To clarify, all UNT System Administration Offices will only be accessible to personnel designated as critical for continued on-site operations as determined by your Vice Chancellor or me – all other system administration personnel will continue to work remotely. With these operational adjustments in mind, any system administration team members impacted should retrieve needed items from their office today.
The 1901 Main Street closure includes the UNT Dallas College of Law library and all other CoL resources in that building – UNT Dallas police will arrange for security in the UNT Dallas Law Center at Old City Hall. In line with the Dallas County shelter-in-place order, UNT Dallas and the law school will be announcing operational updates later today.
While not bound by the same shelter-in-place guidelines as our Dallas County entities, UNT (Denton County) and UNT Health Science Center (Tarrant County), are similarly taking aggressive measures against the spread of COVID-19. Yesterday, UNT announced it will be reducing on-site staff to personnel designated as essential for continued campus operations by 5pm on March 24. UNT’s vice presidents are identifying designated on-site personnel who will be needed to serve remaining UNT students in residence halls and serve critical business continuity functions. UNT Health Science Center has similarly reduced its on-campus staffing to those that serve critical business continuity functions.
Each campus will determine its own essential on-site services and designated personnel. For UNT System Administration, designated on-site personnel are only those that are required on-site for continuity of operations. Again, employees designated as critical to these on-site operations will be determined by your Vice Chancellor or me. These decisions will focus on protecting the health of our employees and the general population, and will result in the absolute minimum on site population.
UNT System Human Resources has provided faculty and staff with guidance regarding working remotely, paid leave, emergency leave and safe working conditions for those designated as necessary for critical on-site operations – please note this HR guidance will continue to evolve based on the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 threat and its impact on Texas, our system and member institutions. Please visit https://www.untsystem.edu/covid-19 to view these guidelines and other critical COVID-19 updates – this site is updated daily.
Thank you for your continued support of our proactive measures against the spread of COVID-19 as we strive to support public safety at the highest levels, while still fulfilling our missions to serve students. Our UNT World values – service, teamwork, trust, excellence – will continue to guide us through these challenging times.
Lesa B. Roe
UNT System Headquarters Team Members:
With additional COVID-19 cases reported in North Texas over the weekend, we are taking additional measures to protect our employees while maintaining core operation of our system and member institutions.
We are making preparations to further reduce the number of people working on our campuses and office sites. Your supervisor will be communicating with you today regarding plans for your position. If you, or an immediate member of your family that lives in your house, are high-risk to COVID-19, per CDC guidelines, please communicate with your supervisor to make arrangements to allow for social distancing at work or telecommuting.
We are continuing to update our UNT System COVID-19 web site https://www.untsystem.edu/covid-19 and have added additional human resources guidance and remote working information. Please visit the site for frequent updates and feel free to email AskHR@untsystem.edu if you have specific questions that aren’t addressed on the site.
Thank you for your understanding, your care for others, and your willingness to navigate these many disruptions to protect the health and safety of UNT World.
Lesa B. Roe