Dear faculty and academic staff,
Today, as our semester comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to reflect on this academic year and to thank each of you for all of your support in advancing UNT’s goals. While many of us have an achy hand from grading, or in my case tennis elbow from shaking so many hands during commencement ceremonies, it is a time of great celebration.
The 2018-19 academic year has been a momentous one. It is our 100th anniversary of granting bachelor’s degrees. We received our largest gift ever supporting the G. Brint Ryan College of Business. We completed a master plan for our new Frisco campus. And no doubt, there is much more in store for us in the next academic year.
Let me share with you just a few of the great things we have done together to advance our goals.
Improving Retention and Graduation Rates
- We continue to improve our 4- and 6-year graduation rate. This week, we will be celebrating the graduation of approximately 4,800 students during the spring commencement ceremonies.
- Faculty are working hard to develop new degree programs to support our students’ interests. Recently added programs include a B.A. in Latino Culture, Economy and Policy, B.A. in Urban Policy and Planning, B.S. in General Business, B.S. in Data Science, M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis and an M.B.A. in Business Analytics.
- Please remember that an encouraging word or expression of interest from a faculty or staff member can mean all the difference to a student’s success. As you say goodbye to our students, I encourage you to discuss their plans for summer and fall classes and encourage them to register. Our retention rate from fall to spring increased, and we expect the same will be true of fall to fall – all because of your efforts to ensure our students stay on a path to success.
- Our faculty are having tremendous impact with their articles, books and creative works such as Jennifer Wallach’s book Every Nation Has Its Dish and Dornith Doherty’s exhibition Archiving Eden at the National Academy of Sciences Gallery. And College of Science biological sciences professors Richard Dixon and Vladimir Shulaev recently were listed among the top 1 percent of researchers in their field to be cited by other researchers, according to Clarivate Analytics.
- We also are on track to see more than a 10 percent increase in research expenditures this year and research proposals also are up significantly. This spring, our researchers were awarded 47 funded projects, including Dr. Rudi Thompson’s $2.2 million grant from the City of Dallas to support environmental education, Dr. Anapama Kaul’s $750,000 grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research to study communication and sensing systems, and Dr. Eduardo Blanco’s $500,0000 NSF CAREER Award to teach computers the intricacies of negation.
- Our faculty are being recognized with significant national fellowships. Regents Professor Stephen Jackson became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and Engineering Dean Hanchen Huang was named a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Jincheng Du was selected as a Fulbright Scholar to research biomedical applications of glass materials. Victor Prybutok, Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Toulouse Graduate School, recently was awarded the 2018 Decision Sciences Institute’s Lifetime Distinguished Educator Award.
Growing Top Rated Programs
- This past year, we saw a number of our programs climb in their rankings, demonstrating the high quality and reputation of our programs.
- For example, in U.S. News and World Report, we saw significant advances for our graduate programs. Our Master of Public Administration Program in local government management ranked No. 5 nationally, as is the specialty in emergency management and disaster science, Rehabilitation Counseling ranked No. 12 and Counseling No. 14. The College of Education moved into the top 100, ranking No. 93, as did our part-time M.B.A. program, now ranked No. 99.
Becoming a Best Place to Work
- Our COACHE task force is finalizing their recommendations. We are planning to implement key recommendations this fall, including parental modification of duties, a lecturer affinity group and expanded search committee support.
- We invested in adjusting library faculty salaries, resulting in market increases for 54 faculty members.
Achieving More Efficient and Effective Systems
- In academic affairs, we are working hard to make UNT an easier place to navigate while improving policies and processes. As one example, we were able to work with the Faculty Senate to develop a faculty grievance policy and draft revisions to our promotion and tenure policies that we expect to implement this coming fall.
One of my favorite ways to engage in dialogue about the issues and opportunities here at UNT is through informal brown bag lunches, which will continue this summer. Join me for an informal conversation about our future at UNT.Please contact Margaret Vestal to sign up for one of the dates listed below. Slots will fill on a first-come, first-served basis to faculty and staff.
- Monday, June 17 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 2 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, August 14 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Each of your contributions helps make UNT stronger and for that you have my sincere appreciation. As we wrap up the year, take the time to say thank you to someone who helped you make this academic year a success.