Nov. 3, 2014

In the past year, students, faculty and staff in cooperation with UNT alumni and community partners have participated in university-wide discussions offering feedback about the university's Quality Enhancement Plan, which is a five-year plan to enhance student learning.

As you likely know, the plan is an important part of UNT's reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges.

Your feedback helped the QEP Leadership Team identify and guide the four finalist proposals and UNT's SACS COC Leadership Team has selected the final one. I'm pleased to announce that the plan chosen as UNT's QEP will engage students in action-based learning and give them real-world experience in the regional community and abroad.

Soar Beyond the Classroom strengthens UNT's commitment to educational excellence by allowing students to gain valuable career experience while learning. We're already doing this in many programs and many ways, but this plan provides greater focus and places more emphasis on such activities as internships or research based in the community that enable students to get essential hands-on experience. Giving students more opportunities to interact with the surrounding community, solve problems and gain valuable work experience will strengthen their critical thinking and communication skills, which are important professional development skills.

The QEP Leadership Team and I appreciate the thought and care that went into each proposal. All four were excellent and would have strengthened UNT's academic environment and enhanced learning outcomes. In the end, we chose the one that would have the greatest impact.

Now comes the fun part, as faculty, staff and students join together to develop the implementation plan for UNT's QEP, which will launch in 2016. To successfully launch the plan, we need your input and participation. In the coming months, you can learn more about the development progress on UNT's QEP website.

Finally, I want to thank the hundreds of UNT community members who committed time and energy to this important conversation. I look forward to working with you all - united - as UNT implements this plan.

UNT proud,

Neal Smatresk