Dear faculty and academic staff,
As we say goodbye to summer and welcome the new academic year, I want to celebrate examples of the exciting work our students, faculty and staff engaged in these past few months.
- We received major recognitions. Besnik Abrashi, a double major in music education and clarinet performance, won first prize in the 2019 International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition. Guohua Feng, a professor of economics, was named a fellow in The Society for Economic Measurement for his work on developing economic indexes to measure productivity in areas such as sustainable development and banking.
- We engaged in summer teaching. The National Security Agency provided financial support to allow UNT to offer a four-week Russian language immersion program, led by Senior Lecturer Tatiana Filosofova. Our Elm Fork Education Center continued to host a variety of hands-on summer programs for children ranging from “Simply Machines” to “It’s Snot Camp.” The experiences these young students have on our campus during the summer may one day lead them to enroll as college students here. UNT International and the College of Engineering organized a Summer Science program for students from China, including collaboration from Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering.
- We engaged in research experiences with our undergraduate students. UNT hosted six National Science Foundation funded summer research experiences. Since 2010, Political Science Professor John Ishiyama has led an 8-week summer research experience for 10 students on Conflict Management and Peace Science providing quantitative training in civil conflict management, research ethics and geographic information systems. And new this summer, Professor of Information Science Junhua Ding brought together 10 students from six colleges in a 10-week summer research program on Data Analytics and Information Retrieval.
- We engaged in international experiences. Journalism student Talia Snow documented her travels to Prague, exploring the use of social media in protest movements and observed hundreds of thousands of people protesting the leadership of the Czech Prime Minister. Biology Ph.D. candidate Amy Wynia, working with Biological Sciences Professor Jaime Jimenez, traveled to Navarino Island in southern-most Chile to explore the forests in search of the Magellanic Woodpecker, banding 52 of the birds during her field work.
I am very much looking forward to a rewarding semester ahead of us. We are a university on the rise and we have so much to be proud of as we enter the fall semester.
- We are welcoming more than 11,000 new students into our classes in Denton, Frisco and online. This includes our biggest – and most diverse – first-year student class ever! I encourage you to spend time getting to know our students both in and outside of the classroom, and there are so many opportunities to do that this semester. The Division of Student Affairs is providing “Take a Student to Lunch” tickets that let you share lunch at one of UNT’s residence hall cafeterias. To participate, please contact Annie Garcia at Ana.Garcia@unt.edu, call 940-565-3987 or stop by Faculty Success in Hurley 316F.
- We have invested in expanding and renovating facilities to provide faculty, staff and students with the leading-edge resources they need to make waves in their fields. Our new Biomedical Engineering addition at Discovery Park will host its grand opening at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29. The College of Visual Arts and Design will be hosting its building grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 12. CLEAR has moved into the newly renovated building at 1500 N I-35 E. And construction is nearing completion on the College of Music Courtyard, which will include a performance space.
- We have so many wonderful creative new faces on our campus, including 118 new faculty and dozens of new staff members. The College of Education recently profiled their 19 outstanding new faculty members, a diverse cohort who will lend their unique experiences and expertise to the college’s tradition of excellence.
- Part of how we help our students succeed is by evolving our curriculum. This means we are building new graduate programs in emerging high-demand areas and building seamless pathways for transfer students to complete their bachelor’s degrees in a timely manner. Four new undergraduate programs debuted this fall, including Data Science, General Business, Urban Policy and Planning and Latino Culture, Economy and Policy. At the graduate level, we have added programs in Applied Behavior Analysis and an M.B.A. in Business Analytics.
- We have 77 programs ranked in the top 100. New to the Top 100 Public Universities in this year’s U.S. News & World Report rankings are our graduate programs in Chemistry, Emergency Management & Disaster Science, Mathematics and a part-time M.B.A. program. These programs join the many others that are ranked by a range of organizations, emphasizing that our academic programs are widely recognized for excellence.
And there is so much that we will accomplish together this year.
- This fall, we will be completing the university’s strategic plan. The plan has three themes in which academic affairs will be an active contributor, including Student Empowerment and Transformation, People and Processes, and Scholarly Activity and Innovation. This year, academic affairs will be focusing on how together we can advance the university’s goals.
- I have charged the R1 Our Way Task Force with developing recommendations for how we can advance our standing as a Carnegie Tier One Research University. Last year, we were reaffirmed as a Carnegie Tier One research university, and we have spent the last six months studying where we stand relative to peers. Our next step is to look at the investments we could make to further solidify our standing as an R1 university, with an aspiration to reach the middle of R1.
- UNT on the Square will be moving under the leadership of the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, creating a unique learning laboratory for retail, hospitality and event planning that will support all of our academic units. Planning is underway for a reimagined concept that will further set our top-ranked programs apart from our peers. If you have ideas for the future of UNT on the Square, please contact Wendy Rounsley at Wendy.Rounsley@unt.edu.
I encourage you to join me this fall at an informal brown bag lunch at my office. You bring your lunch, I’ll provide the drinks and we’ll engage in a conversation about fostering an inclusive campus culture. Please contact Joanna Hussey to sign up for one of the dates listed below.
- Friday, Sept. 20 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 9 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 21 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Dec. 10 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
One of the main reasons for our continued growth and success is that we lead by example, working together to show students what it means to be part of a caring and creative community. I want to thank every member of our academic community for continuing to advance UNT and make us a best place to work.