Our resilience shines in Winter Storm response — An Official Notice from the President

Monday, Feb. 22, 2021

Dear UNT faculty and staff,

Last week’s winter storm brought devastatingly cold weather to Texas, but our hard working emergency crews did an amazing job and worked tirelessly to keep our residential students safe and our campus operational. Their heroic efforts minimized damages to our buildings, and they will continue to work to repair our buildings and critical infrastructure. If you see them on campus, please take the opportunity to thank them.  

Our Housing and Residence Life staff continued to care for students who remained on campus, keeping the halls as warm as possible during rolling power outages and rendering aid when pipes inevitably burst. The Dining Services team served thousands of meals, creatively designing menus during a time when ingredient deliveries could not take place and power was intermittent.

Despite the challenges of the week, I have been so incredibly proud of what has been accomplished by staff pulling together during the harshest of conditions. Many of our most dedicated essential personnel navigated hazardous road conditions and left behind families, many without power, heat and water to serve our UNT community.

Our Facilities and Risk Management crews have been working around the clock and already have made many repairs so the majority of our buildings could be open today. But there is more hard work ahead of us. With 176 buildings and 7.5 million square feet on campus, storm recovery will take time as we continue to assess and repair damage from the past week. I ask that you pay close attention to your inbox for updates on building re-openings as our staff continues to bring more of campus back into operational status. Meanwhile, please be understanding of our Facilities teams as they continue this important work.

Even as pipes were bursting on campus and heating units were being repaired, I know many of you were at home experiencing rolling blackouts, frozen or burst pipes, and other undesirable situations. We all were tested, and some of you may spend the coming days navigating home repairs or monitoring a child’s virtual learning. Faculty will be rearranging syllabi and coordinating with students to help them address their needs and get back into the groove of the semester. Student supervisors should remember many of our students missed out on crucial work hours and should be allowed to make up those hours in the upcoming weeks. Our UNT leadership will remain flexible in the coming weeks, and I thank you for the compassion I know you will show our students and each other.

Again, please know that I am deeply grateful to all of our teams who helped keep us going this past week, including Facilities, Emergency Management and Safety Services, Risk Management Services, UNT Police, Housing and Dining Services. I’m sure there are many tales of tenacity from this past week, and I would love for you to share them with me by emailing president@unt.edu. We will share a roundup in UNT Today later this week.

Working together, our strengths shine, and we are best able to serve as a social mobility elevator that helps our students achieve their dreams. 

UNT proud, 
Neal Smatresk
UNT President