Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022

Dear UNT Faculty and Staff,

As we head into the first week of the fall semester, welcoming what is expected to be our largest-ever student body, I want to remind you of the pivotal role you play in fulfilling the UNT mission of empowering students to thrive in our rapidly changing world.

No matter how large or small, each interaction we have with students makes an impact on their day and shapes their UNT experience. Helping a student find a classroom, promptly answering emails, revealing hidden gems like decadent dining at Avesta or the Union's Meditation Room, are small ways we can connect with students.

In our newest video, Empathetic Lens, a handful of UNT's caring faculty and staff including Dr. John Ishiyama from political science, Eric Green from the Career Center, and Dr. Chandra Carey from rehabilitation and health services, remind us why we work in higher education and that it is our duty to care for our students' well-being. I especially love how Desiree Padron, director of the First-Generation Success Center, encourages us to “approach students with an empathetic lens and really get to know who they are, and the intention they have for being at UNT.”

Though we all hold different roles and interface with students in varied ways, I know every faculty and staff member engenders trust and shows genuine care for our students. We want to highlight these caring stories throughout the year, and I invite you to share the ways you empower students and demonstrate care by sending a brief email to

During the Week of Welcome and all forthcoming days, please continue to put our students first and help them succeed to graduation. We have the great privilege of first listening to their hopes and fears, and then connecting them to resources and programs that can lead to solutions. I hope you will all capitalize on opportunities to instill in our students a growth mindset, and build them into resilient individuals who become alumni in a few short years.

With our caring, student-focused team of incredible faculty and staff, I know the 2022-23 academic year will be a remarkable one. Thanks for all you do.

UNT Proud,
Neal Smatresk