A transformational leader who understands the importance of positioning UNT on an international level, President Gretchen M. Bataille joins UNT as the university is poised to implement its new five-year strategic plan. The plan provides a framework for developing the university’s future.
“My charge is to move UNT beyond its identity as a regional institution,” Bataille says. “We must represent to the nation and the world that UNT is a university with an existing global influence and many nationally recognized programs led by top scholars producing high-quality graduates.
“We will be successful by working collaboratively across all campus departments to strengthen our roots and expand our reputation and quality,” she says.
Bataille says putting UNT “on a map bigger than North Texas” will strengthen the institution for future generations while improving the value of the degrees alumni hold.
“For years, we have educated thousands of students who have become active, successful contributors to society while emerging as leaders in their fields, yet it is the role of universities to strive to improve society. So, we must constantly seek greater levels of quality and achievement.”
Even in the face of a demanding array of challenges for higher education institutions across the nation — such as issues of accessibility, cost and accountability — UNT will thrive, Bataille says, while pointing out the ever-increasing strength of the university’s students and faculty.
This fall’s entering freshman class of 3,885 students is the largest in UNT history and boasts the highest average SAT score, which continues to rise at UNT even as it declines nationally. The average SAT score for UNT freshmen has long surpassed the national average, and for six of the past 10 years the UNT average has increased. This year’s freshman class also includes 10 National Merit Scholars and more than 200 other students who entered the new Honors College.
These students are joined on campus by 90 new faculty members who represent 42 disciplines and bring an array of experiences and viewpoints. More than 900 scholars are dedicated to teaching UNT’s students.
“Our newest faculty members expand our base of recognized scholars by bringing with them points of view from around the globe — many were educated outside the United States — as well as cutting-edge research agendas that will contribute to UNT’s creation of knowledge.
“Our faculty and students are UNT’s building blocks to greatness, but more than that, they are the creators of the future,” Bataille says. “We owe it to them, and to ourselves, to provide them with the best foundation we can.”
A closer look
When not dedicating her time to the world of higher education, Bataille, a widow, says she enjoys spending time with her two grown children — Marc, a commodities trader, and Erin, a former bank employee who is now a stay-at-home mother. Hiking in the woods with her 6- and 9-year-old grandsons is a favorite pastime.
Raised in Indiana with a sister and brother, Bataille says she was brought up to value people and work. While helping her parents at the family-owned soda fountain, she was taught to serve each customer with dignity and respect while always doing her best. She says those values still guide her work today.
Here are some of her insights on UNT and the importance of a college education.
1. What about UNT drove you to seek and accept the presidency?
UNT is a university poised for the next level of achievement — in teaching, research, and national and international outreach. UNT provides both challenges and opportunities, and I look forward to both.
2. What do you see as the university’s greatest strength and weakness?
UNT has been identified as a regional institution. While that is a strength in that we have a strong alumni base in North Texas, it is also a weakness in that the rest of Texas and the nation do not know about us.
3. How do you define success for the university?
Success for UNT will be measured by our students’ success — retention and graduation rates — as well as the success of our faculty in garnering federal grants, professional awards, and national and international recognition.
4. Where did your commitment to higher education come from?
As the first in my family to go to college, I know that this opportunity made a huge difference in my life and in the lives of my children. This opportunity needs to be available to all students.
Background at a glance
Bataille earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in English education from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. She received a doctorate in English from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Her scholarly work has been focused on Native American literature.
She began her teaching career at Iowa State University and went on to serve as acting associate dean of instruction at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. Bataille served as associate dean for academic personnel in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University, provost of the College of Letters and Science at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and provost and academic vice president of Washington State University.
Before joining UNT, Bataille served as the senior vice president for academic affairs at the 16-campus University of North Carolina System. For the last year, she also served as interim chancellor — the equivalent of president at UNT — of UNC’s North Carolina School of the Arts.
Bataille also chaired the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the President’s Committee for Assessment for Quality and Diversity at Arizona State University. She serves as a board member and as vice chair of the College Board.
You can keep in touch with Bataille and the progress being made at UNT through the UNT Insider, a monthly e-newsletter from the president to alumni, friends and supporters of UNT. Subscribe to the UNT Insider at www.unt.edu/president/insider.