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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.

UNT FOOTBALL AT HOUSTON CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 CONCERNS

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.

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University of North Texas

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 students

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).

Dr. Jamboor Vishwanatha

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.

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VIRTUAL BOARD OF REGENTS MEETING IN NOVEMBER

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.

EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE

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.

Thank you,

Lesa B. Roe
Chancellor

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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.

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Senator John Cornyn

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 Health and Safety Awareness Campaign

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.

Blockchain Innovation Challenge

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.

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Town Hall Collage

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.

Final Thoughts Banner

GALLUP ENGAGEMENT SURVEY TO LAUNCH IN OCTOBER

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
Chancellor

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.

COVID-19 AND UNT WORLD: WHERE ARE WE TODAY

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

  • Unless otherwise instructed by your supervisor, all UNT System Administration employees will continue to work remotely throughout the summer.
  • Return-to-office plans are under review and will be announced in August. This will include return-to-work training.
  • UNT System Administration employees that work as part of a campus team will generally adhere to guidelines specific to their campus location and should bring any questions to their supervisor.
  • The August Board of Regents Meeting will be moved from UNT Health Science Center to a virtual format in order to maximize space usage on campus for students.

UNT: https://healthalerts.unt.edu/

  • The UNT Union is open but operating with reduced hours until later this summer.
  • The university has begun to phase in intercollegiate athletics activities with the return of football players for workouts.
  • Research activity at the university began ramping up again a few weeks ago.
  • For fall, UNT’s primary focus is offering as many in-person classes as possible while still providing a safe environment during COVID-19. Final plans for more than 12,000 courses will be announced by mid-July and this will impact how/when faculty and staff return to work.
  • UNT students will not return to campus for classes after the 2020 Thanksgiving holiday. The end of the semester and final exams will be conducted remotely. This will not change UNT’s fall start date of Aug. 24.
  • UNT Faculty and Staff are required to take online return-to-work training. A link to the course was recently distributed.

UNTHSC: https://www.unthsc.edu/coronavirus/

  • HSC began a phased return to campus on June 8 for supervisors and June 15 for other team members as approved by their supervisors.
  • All team members are required to complete a Campus Reentry Education module before returning to campus and remote work arrangements are encouraged where appropriate.
  • A hybrid model of instruction will occur in the summer and fall.
  • Campus-based, in-person learning will only occur for courses with academic outcomes that cannot be measured or achieved virtually, such as performance, laboratory, and clinical experiences.

UNT Dallas: https://www.untdallas.edu/covid-19-knowledge-center

  • UNT Dallas will continue to offer all summer sessions in a completely virtual learning format and campus is largely closed.
  • UNTD leadership is reviewing a proposed plan for Fall 2020 and will announce details to students, faculty and staff by July 1.
  • The UNT Dallas College of Law Library in downtown Dallas is open to law school students who are preparing for the Bar exam.

COVID-19 AND UNT WORLD: WHAT’S NEXT?

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
Chancellor

UNT World Faculty & Staff:

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNT President Smatresk

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

UNT Dallas food pantry

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

Image of a doctor

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

We Are North Texas Podcast Logo

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

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
Chancellor

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
Chancellor

 

UNT World - Chancellor Roe high fives a graduating student
From the Desk of Chancellor Roe

From the Board of Regents to our university presidents to my office and cabinet, UNT World is committed to continuous improvement as it relates to producing the highest quality outputs as efficiently as possible. This includes the central services we provide to our member institutions, and it also includes the customer services we provide to our students.
To help ensure best practices in service, quality and efficiency, we have conducted functional reviews in many business areas over the last two years, including human resources, IT, legal, facilities and financial functions. We are in the process of reviewing our enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, and a review of our procurement operation is launching this month.
These reviews provide a unique opportunity to gather and analyze input from customers, stakeholders and industry experts. We then apply the insights gained through each review to find opportunities to get better, whether that applies to processes, people or overall organizational structure.
Through these efforts, we have made great strides in aligning services with university initiatives. Working together across our UNT World, we can put more of our resources into achieving our visions and institutional missions, while also elevating customer service.
One success story that resulted through our functional review process was the decision to move student financial services back to our campuses in April, 2018 – changing our centralized model. Since transitioning to a campus-based model, we have achieved new campus-level efficiencies, while also improving personalization and customer service through increased face-to-face interactions with students and parents.
As part of this initiative, UNT has also introduced the Start Green, Stay Green program to help ensure that students are receiving the financial assistance they require. This collaborative program, which includes the Dean of Students Office, Student Financial Services, Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, and the Student Money Management Center, provides individualized support to students in financial duress.
“Every student has a story,” said Joey Saxon, UNT's associate vice president of Student Financial Services. “They may need money for books or living expenses. We’ve heard from students who are homeless. Sometimes they just need a little extra help or just have an outstanding balance that prevents them from enrolling. The program allows offices to coordinate in order to provide as much assistance as possible.”
It's programs and ideas like these that drive our system and institutions forward. Looking inward to review our processes and services can be catalyst for positive change and that makes all of us better.

Spotlight Video

Fiscal Year 2019 was a record-setting time for UNT World on many levels – enrollment, academic excellence, research growth and fundraising. The year also was a milestone for construction activity, as the UNT System and its institutions opened four new or renovated facilities that are making a significant impact on our campuses. These facilities were funded through the State of Texas’ Tuition Revenue Bond (TRB) program.
This month's spotlight video highlights these incredible facilities and their impact on our campuses, as well as hard work and collaborative efforts of UNT System Facilities and our institutions.

High Fives
Melisa Denis and Leda Roe

Gov. Abbott appoints three to UNT System Regents

Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Daniel Feehan, John Scott, Jr., D.O. and Melisa Denis to the UNT System Board of Regents. Regents Feehan, Scott and Denis replace Gwyn Shea, Glen Whitley and Rusty Reid. We are excited to introduce our new regents at the February Board Meeting and thank our outgoing regents for their service.
MORE: UNT System

UNT Dallas Graduation

UNT Dallas ranked No. 1 in Texas for support of first generation college students

UNT Dallas was named the top public university in Texas for its support of first-generation college students by ScholarShot.UNTD edged the University of Texas at Arlington for the top spot in ScholarShot's "report card," which considers graduate outcomes, academic engagement, financial management and interventions.
MORE: Inside Higher Ed

UNT Professor at microscope

UNT professor furthers research on 'plant power'

Kent Chapman, a University of North Texas regents professor, is working with researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other universities to find better ways to store and use lipids. Lipids, energy-dense molecules that are found in all plants, could help further biofuel research.
MORE: Denton Record-Chronicle

UNTHSC program assists cancer patients and survivors

UNT Health Science Center has recognized the link between exercise and diet to cancer treatment by opening the FitSteps for Life program. Funded by the Cancer Foundation for Life, Rutledge Cancer Foundation and HSC Foundation, the free program provides supervised exercise sessions for cancer patients and cancer survivors.
MORE: UNT Health Science Center

Final Thoughts

UNT World will be launching a new well-being program for faculty and staff across our system this spring that will focus on physical, interpersonal and mental well-being. This program will include learning opportunities, special events and access to benefits and resources to help us reach our full potential in every phase of our lives.
As a lead-in to the launch of this exciting new initiative, UNT System Human Resources would like to encourage you to participate in the 2020 Get Fit Texas! State Agency Challenge. Get Fit Texas, which began this week, offers state employees a fun opportunity to monitor and improve physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. Our team members that participate in this fun fitness challenge will strive to be physically active for 150 minutes per week for at least six of the 10 weeks of the Challenge.
Simply visit http://getfittexas.org to register, and you can can start logging your physical activity time. In the spirit of friendly competition, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will track the completion percentages for each state agency and recognize top agencies in each size category (small, mid-size and large) with the highest completion percentages.
We all know the many benefits of exercise and physical activity: weight loss, increased mobility, reduced risk of heart disease, lower stress, and even a reduced risk for some types of cancer. We can do this! It’s time to lace up those shoes, join the program and show the state that UNT World understands how important physical activity is to a healthy lifestyle.

Lesa B. Roe
Chancellor

An Update from Chancellor Roe on COVID-19

March 16, 2020

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 Chancellor