Sept. 16, 2016

Dear UNT community,

For the past two and a half years, we have worked hard to fix our core and put our university on firm ground. 

The hard work has paid off. Not only have we put our house in order, we're starting the 2016-17 academic year with strong momentum — a ranking as one of Carnegie Classification's top-tier research universities, a new enrollment record of nearly 38,000 students and plans to increase our size, impact and reach. Today, we celebrate our founding as an institution and the fulfillment of a vision that started 126 years ago. Plan to celebrate UNT's 126th birthday at the Founder's Day Picnic today in the Library Mall.

To maintain this pace of progress, we must focus on our mission and everything that goes into it. We exist to give our students a great education that will help them succeed and to build prosperity for the region, state, nation and world. We can't fulfill that mission if we don't work together as a team, united by a shared purpose.

At the 2016 State of the University, I challenged our university community to pull together as a team, to embrace new ways of thinking and to reach higher than we ever have before. That means eschewing traditional boundaries, creating an innovative and nimble culture, and setting ambitious goals to improve our research, reputation and engagement. You can read a recap of the State of the University and learn about our goals and priorities for the future. You can read my full address or watch a recording of the State of the University. You also can learn about our progress in our video, UNT's Path to Excellence.

It is time to stop thinking about ourselves as an organization made up of 10 divisions, 12 colleges and 58 departments. We're one team, one university, one community. The number that counts the most are the nearly 38,000 students who have placed their destiny in our hands.

Our students come to us with dreams to have a successful career, provide for their families and make a difference in the world, as you'll see in our video, Helping UNT Students Achieve Their Dreams.

They trust us to help them create successful futures. Every day, we have to ask ourselves, “How am I improving students' lives? How am I helping them achieve their dreams?” Many of our faculty and staff already know the answer to this question, as you'll see in our video, Building a Culture of Innovation at UNT.

This is our shared purpose. If we stay focused on that, then we'll add value to our students' lives and stand out as the institution that really cares for students.

We've come so far in a relatively short time. You can read about how we add value to the region as an economic engine in the new UNT Impact Report. I couldn't be more proud of what we've accomplished and I can hardly wait for what's next!

UNT Proud,
Neal Smatresk