In one of my first official acts as UNT president, I had the honor of presiding over spring commencement last weekend. More than 3,600 undergraduate and graduate students received their diplomas and are now leaving UNT ready to take the knowledge they have gained into the world. Watching them achieve that milestone cheered by family and friends showed me that the most important thing UNT does is prepare students to make a difference in their communities. These graduates join more than 326,000 alumni and represent to the world the power of a UNT degree.
In my time here, I want to make sure that UNT continues to focus its efforts to emerge as a major research university with its studentsí education as a central focus. As a major public university, we are entrusted to provide students from all backgrounds with a world-class education. I know that we can advance toward our goals this year and pledge my full efforts to that.
Iíve spent my life in public higher education, starting first as a college student. The experience has taught me that education is perhaps the last true frontier for those seeking growth and progress. Society will falter without excellent public universities filled with creative faculty and talented staff members dedicated to inspiring students and supporting their dreams.
The upcoming academic year will be an important one for UNT as we follow up on the new strategic plan for research, approved last week by the UNT System Board of Regents, and prepare for the upcoming legislative session, which starts in January. We proceed from a strong base as a strong university with a true commitment to excellence.
And, I thank the members of the UNT community who already have welcomed me warmly. In my first week, I have seen and heard many stories that have cemented my first impressions of UNT as an active, energetic university committed to excellence.
You may have heard that UNTís chief academic officer, Provost Wendy Wilkins, will be leaving in July for a new opportunity. We wish her well. She has been instrumental in helping to focus the university on a path to excellence. In the coming weeks, I will be consulting with members of the university community to select an interim provost who will keep us moving in the right direction. I expect to choose someone from within the university to ensure a seamless transition, and I will keep you informed through UNT Insider. Iím pleased to have this newsletter, which gives me a regular opportunity to tell you about the universityís progress during the upcoming year.
My nearly two decades as a public university president taught me that one of the most important things I can do as a leader is to listen. I hope you will join me at the many campus events throughout the year. I want to hear from you about how to make UNT the best that it can be.
V. Lane Rawlins