Sept. 13, 2019

Dear UNT community,

Today, we honor university founder Joshua C. Chilton and celebrate the incredible progress we have made since Sept. 16, 1890, when our first classes were held. In the last year alone, we have gained incredible momentum. We welcomed our largest-ever freshman class, boosting enrollment to more than 39,000 students, received reaffirmation as a Tier One research university, increased our research expenditures to $74.7 million, secured a record-high $60 million in annual giving, graduated more than 9,600 students and impressively increased student retention, nearly hitting our FY22 goals two years early. It truly is an incredible time for UNT.

We have spent 2019 focused on solidifying our brand as a caring, creative and resilient university community, listening to the UNT family and cementing our mission to help students thrive. We have developed a plan for the future that will advance our mission and support student success while remaining authentic to our identity and mission.

As faculty and staff, we have the privilege of helping students transform their lives and everything we do should be in support of our mission to help students thrive. At Thursday's 2019 State of the University, I discussed our trajectory for continued growth as a first-choice institution and outlined our five-year strategic plan to advance our mission and support student success. I shared a comprehensive, deeply layered plan full of goals, metrics and action steps that crosscut the many ways we will build student success pathways and scholarly aptitude as a university. New initiatives and partnerships with Cisco and EAB, intended to bolster our student success management system, were introduced. You can watch my address, read the transcript, or review my presentation slides to better understand our future.

Our strategic plan will require a culture of collaboration and huge investment of time and resources during the next five years. Everything we have planned is meant to help us better transform students' lives and connect them to their dreams. Implementing the action steps and moving our metrics will not happen all at once. It is not a simple task, but one that will require our dedicated team to work collaboratively to execute the steps and serve our students. We must commit the time, energy and resources to achieving our strategic goals, and not just settle for good, but become extraordinary.

I know with your dedication and commitment to our 39,000 students, we will accomplish our goals. Thank you for all you do to make UNT the caring and creative place we love. We truly are a place where faculty and staff care about helping students succeed.

UNT Proud,
Neal Smatresk