Today we — the UNT System Chancellor and Board of Regents — carefully listened to public statements made by members of the University of North Texas community who encouraged the Board not to accept Dr. Gretchen M. Bataille's resignation as president. Before the Board accepted Dr. Bataille's resignation and approved a transitional agreement, the Board gave careful consideration to the future of the university, its status as an emerging research university and other factors.
The Board decided to accept Dr. Bataille's resignation effective February 28, 2010. The Board, which is honoring Dr. Bataille's contract, thanks her for her service to the university.
In a separate action, the Board appointed former UNT administrator Phil C. Diebel to serve as the university's interim president. As many of you know, Mr. Diebel served the university for 26 years — nearly all of that time as the vice president for finance and business affairs.
Mr. Diebel's appointment will take effect on March 1, 2010, and he is expected to serve in the interim capacity for only a short period of time — 90 days or more — until an academic interim leader is identified to lead the institution during the System's national search for a new president. We're grateful that Mr. Diebel, who has extensive knowledge of the university and higher education, agreed to serve UNT during this transition.
To keep UNT on its path toward becoming a Tier I university, we believe it is important for the longer-term interim president to be an experienced academic leader with research university experience — someone who will work collaboratively with the UNT's faculty and staff members to advance the university's initiatives.
Today, we heard a good deal of praise for Dr. Bataille's accomplishments, especially for the manner in which she unified the university campus around shared goals and initiatives, and her strong advocacy for students. There's no doubt her legacy will be one of significant change and improvement.
We also heard expressions of sadness about Dr. Bataille's departure and concern for how her resignation might impact the future of the university. It's important that you know we are fully committed to advancing the mission and strategic goals of our flagship university, including the goals that Dr. Bataille put in place. The Board takes seriously the university's longstanding mission of successfully educating a diverse population of students and keeping the cost of that education affordable. We also are committed to continued excellence in academics and the arts and support for the success of our athletic programs.
We know careful planning will be needed to achieve the university's goal of becoming a Tier I research university, and we intend to support that goal through our decisions. The System staff members will continue to support the university's leadership in the completion of UNT's capital projects, including the stadium, Business Leadership Building and Life Sciences Building. We intend to do all that we can to continue to advance the university's image and reputation, which impacts the value of a UNT degree and its institutional fundraising. In keeping with the American College & University President's Climate Commitment, UNT will continue its sustainability initiatives and lower the carbon footprint on our flagship campus.
We are confident the university will continue to make progress during this transitional period. You will ensure that UNT continues to advance, just as you do every day. Thank you for all that you do to make the university and its students successful.
Going forward, your participation in preparation for the selection of a new president will be important. The System will begin a process of engagement, as soon as possible, to identify the leadership skills and administrative experience that all key UNT constituents want to see in the next president. The insights of university stakeholders — students, faculty and staff members, alumni, Denton community members, donors and friends — are needed before the search for a new president is launched. When that process is complete, the System will name a broadly representative search committee to identify prospective candidates for the future UNT president.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the university and support of those who will work to ensure an orderly transition of institutional leadership.
C. Dan Smith
UNT System Board of Regents