Dear faculty and academic staff,
President Smatresk approved UNT’s FY19 budget allocations after thorough deliberations. I am pleased to announce that we are able to strategically invest $50 million in academic affairs to further our university’s goals as a result of this year’s budget process. In the coming weeks, your deans will be sharing with you the investments being made in your colleges. While there are more needs than we are able to address this year, I am proud of the progress we are making together in advancing Academic Affairs, which ultimately will benefit our students.
Below are a few examples:
Goal: Become Best Place to Work
Continue to make efforts to continuously improve our workplace, focusing on progress in the areas of recognition of our employees’ good work and in talking about progress
I am very pleased that Forbes magazine named us as a best place to work and a best place to work for women. One of the areas we invested in this year is compensation. This past academic year, we conducted a detailed salary study using data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. While the study showed that our faculty salaries are in an appropriate market range when compared with average salaries among similar universities, the salaries of 83 faculty members were adjusted to better align with the market.
As a result of the work of our compensation task force, we increased the base and adjusted the formula for promotional raises to be more competitive with peer institutions. Faculty are provided with a flat base depending on rank or 5 percent, whichever is greater. In making this change this year, 74 faculty benefited.
Additionally, we are launching a Faculty First Flight initiative to support new faculty in their first year as they seek to become highly effective teachers. Those who successfully complete the program will receive funds to support their further professional development.
Goal: Grow Enrollment and Graduation Rates
Continue to improve our 4- and 6-year graduation rates, ultimately increasing the number of UNT degrees awarded each year
Academic Affairs will fund 38 new faculty lines, with each faculty member playing a role in advancing student success and supporting enrollment growth. In doing so, we are able to significantly reduce the faculty-to-student ratios in key growth areas.
For example, UNT Frisco is expected to play a significant role in the growth of the university. Funds are being invested to support the growth of part-time faculty, academic staff and enrollment support at UNT Frisco.
Advising also is a critical component of student success. By growing our advising staff by approximately 20%, hiring 14 new advisors will allow the advisor to student ratio to fall from 1:400 to 1:350, better supporting our students.
Additionally, we will expend approximately $25M to support the renovation of teaching facilitiesin the College of Music, College of Visual Arts and Design, and College of Science. Investment is being made to support the updating of classrooms and addition of technology to support teaching throughout the campus.
Goal: Grow Research
Targeting $68 million in federal research in the long term
Of the 38 new faculty lines this year, we are adding 23 tenure track faculty. These new faculty will advance our scholarship and allow for new areas of inquiry. And the amount of funding to supportfaculty startup grew by 60 percent, a critical investment as we add faculty in facility and equipment intensive areas. Funds also are being invested to support core research facilities.
With an understanding that competitive graduate stipends and tuition benefits are critical to attracting the strongest graduate students and elevating our research standing. We were able to make a start in increasing graduate stipends by choosing one college and one department to start and hope to make additional progress in future years.
Additionally, we have significantly grown the operating budget of the libraries by 20 percent. Having a high-quality library is critical to our path to elevating our standing as a research university. This investment will reduce the improve discovery and access to online journals, expand collections and modernize library facilities.
Goal: Grow Top-Rated Programs
Continue to increase our number of programs ranked in the top 100 with at least 75 programs hitting this mark and ensuring all of our programs make progress in moving up in their rankings
This past year, we added four more academic programs that are ranked among the nation’s top 100, bringing our total to 72 programs. Faculty are being added in targeted programs with high potential for increasing quality. We also are investing in targeted reputational marketing to ensure our peers and prospective students know about the outstanding programs we offer.
Goal: Achieve Efficient and Effective Systems
Improve customer service and satisfaction across campus while reducing total cost of services
Funds have been targeted this year to support management and operations in units that have lacked basic infrastructure such as supporting new and replacement technology. And staff have been added to improve effectiveness of administrative operations. For example, we are expanding the number of instructional designers who will work with faculty in their efforts to build high-quality online courses and programs.
I’m excited for the year ahead and I hope you are too. The FY19 budget represents a significant investment in our strategic priorities and ensures that we can help our students succeed and to make their dreams come true − enabling UNT to soar higher.