Spring 2018

Dear faculty and academic staff,

Wow, 2018 has arrived, and I sit here wondering how did 2017 fly by so quickly. In the six months since I arrived back at UNT, I have enjoyed learning about our academic programs, departments and the many areas that advance our university.

One of the ways I have gotten to know our campus community is through an informal brown bag lunch I’ve been hosting with small groups. This has been so successful that I am planning to continue this series through the spring semester. You bring your lunch, I’ll provide the drinks and dessert, and everyone brings their voices and perspectives so that we can have an informative and thought-provoking conversation about the future of UNT. There are seven slots available for each lunch, and slots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis to faculty and staff. Please contact Margaret Vestal to sign up for one of the upcoming dates:

  • Feb. 20, 2018
  • April 10, 2018
  • May 4, 2018

There is much progress being made across campus that I am excited to update you on. As an example, we received good news that the 2018 US News and World Report Online Program Rankings #4 in Best Online Graduate Education Programs (moving up from #16), #28 in Best Online MBA programs (tied with the University of Texas), #34 in Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Program and #47 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

I’m proud that we have been able to move forward so quickly by working together. Here are just a few of the key things happening in Academic Affairs:

  • The UNT System Board of Regents approved our plan for differential tuition for the colleges of Business, Engineering and Music. As a result, we are able to immediately begin searching for 12 new faculty members to help support our students’ success, advance research, and improve the quality of our academic programs. In addition, the tuition dollars are being invested in college priorities such as facilities, teaching assistants and financial aid.
  • We are growing our advising team to better support our students. I expect the first new hires to begin in February with additional advisors being hired throughout the spring and summer months.
  • UNT is transitioning from Blackboard Learn to Canvas. This important migration will continue through Fall 2018, and I encourage all of you to take advantage of the many resources available to help you be successful with this transition. Training and resources to support the transition are available through CLEAR.
  • Thank you to all of you who have invested time and much effort in creating a Degree in Three for your undergraduate programs. This fall, 99 bachelor degree programs developed alternative pathways for completing a program in three years, also known as Degree in Three. The Degree in Three programs allow students — and parents — to see how students could complete their degree in an accelerated time period. A shorter pathway to graduation means a lower cost to students and their families. This is an attractive option for students who have a clearintention of major and who have completed transferable credits in high school, community college or another four-year institution. Students who participate in Degree in Three programs often are retained at higher rates and graduate faster. This spring, we will focus our efforts on promoting this alternative pathway to current and prospective students.
  • clear and concise syllabus is an important part of having a strong start each semester. A new syllabus policy is now in place and is a great resource for faculty. This policy explains the items that are required by state law or university policy to be included in every syllabus. It also provides a helpful list of optional statements that you may want to include in your syllabi. Another excellent resource for faculty building their syllabi is Appendix 2 of the Teaching Excellence Handbook, which offers standard language faculty may wish to adopt.
  • As our university continues our drive to strengthen our research initiatives and maintain our Tier One status, we’ve seen more faculty earning new research grants and I’m excited to see some of the interdisciplinary work that is happening across campus. During break, I had the exciting opportunity to witness some of this incredible work first hand when President Smatresk and I visited UNT's Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program to meet with our partners at the University of Magallanes, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the Chilean government, the US Embassy and other entities. The work there led to $15 million being awarded from the Chilean government to fund the construction of a Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Center, which is scheduled to open later this year in Puerto Williams, Chile.
  • This spring also welcomes the opening of the first phase of renovations to Sage Hall, which is being transformed into our Academic Success Center. I believe this one-stop resource shop will make it easier for our students to access the services they need to be successful in their classes, ultimately helping them earn their degrees. Phase one involved a complete overhaul of Sage Hall’s first floor, which will now house the Learning Center, Math Lab, Writing Center, Retention Initiatives, Office of Disability Accommodations, Office for Student Academic Success, and some services from the Dean of Students. The close proximity of a wide range of academic services will give students easy access and should encourage collaboration among the offices to better work together to help our students succeed. Phase two and three of the project will include additional renovations to offices currently located in Sage Hall and the relocation of the Career Center to Sage.

These accomplishments would not have been possible without the excellence and significant efforts of our faculty and staff like you. Thank you for being your best and supporting the success of those around you so that we can ensure our students achieve their goals and we continue to move UNT forward. 

This spring and summer, we will be welcoming new leaders to our campus. Here’s a look at some of the new faces you’ll soon see:

  • Diane Bruxvoort will join us April 1 as the Dean of Libraries and Librarian. She most recently has served as the Libraries, Special Collections and Museums University librarian and director at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Read more about Dean Bruxvoort.
  • Dr. Neale Chumbler will begin July 1 as UNT’s new Dean of the College of Health and Public Service and professor of Rehabilitation and Health Services. He is currently serving as dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Western Kentucky University. Read more about Dr. Chumbler.

This spring, we’ll be focusing on enrollment planning. This means looking forward to what new academic programs we want to add, what programs we want to grow, the programs we want to hold steady, those we plan to shrink and any that may close. In the coming months, you’ll be hearing more about enrollment planning, and I look forward to working with you as we chart our course forward.

My office cares about the success of our students, faculty and staff. One way I come to understand what is working well and opportunities for improvement is through culture surveys. This month, you will be receiving an email from Gallup to participate in our Engagement Survey, which will be open from Jan. 29 to Feb. 16. We need your feedback so we can better understand your needs and where we can improve so we can truly make UNT a “best place to work in higher education.” Then, later this spring, I’ll be asking our faculty to complete the COACHE survey. This is a survey we participate in every three to five years, and it provides detailed feedback on a range of topics such as promotion, and it allows us to compare our university’s responses to those of other institutions. I ask you to please take the time to respond when the COACHE survey comes out Feb. 12, so that we can gather accurate data to help us in our planning.

We can help each other be more successful, so please do take the time to support each other and to support our students.

Together, I know we are going to have a great spring semester.·