Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020

Dear UNT students,

Words cannot adequately measure the trials this year has brought to our community. If stress and anxiety have formed a permanent knot in your stomach, and you feel overwhelmed right now, I want you to pause. Sit. Take a deep breath and exhale it all out. You will get through this. We care about you more than you can possibly know, and we are here to help.

As you plan for the spring semester, I encourage you to take advantage of available time with staff before the university closes for winter break at noon Wednesday, Dec. 23. Not only are advisors here to help you reach your graduation goals safely, we also have numerous resources through financial aid, the Dean of Students office and the Student Money Management Center to help you navigate financial challenges, including anything from tuition payments to food insecurity. You have access to many resources including experts and staff who genuinely care about your success. They can try to help ease some of the burdens this year has wrought.

We have delivered more than $13.3 million in aid to students since March, and we know more is needed. We continue looking for solutions so you can finish your programs both safely and on time.

As we watch COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate across Texas, I want you to know that I have faith that we will find our way to the other side of this crisis. We successfully managed hundreds of in-person courses this fall because you carefully navigated every preventative measure in place. I know you are tired — stay vigilant. I know you are anxious — keep moving forward. We will get through this step by step, day by day. Please be safe. Continue to wear your masks and practice social distancing. Avoid large gatherings, and make smart choices.

By now, you've probably repeatedly heard me marvel at the caring nature of our community and the resilient spirit you each display. I'll never get tired of saying it because all of you have made me so proud throughout this year. So today, I invite you to sit for a moment in gratitude with me this holiday season. I am grateful for our Mean Green Family, for the things I've learned this year and the joy of watching you realize your dreams.

UNT Proud,

Neal Smatresk

UNT President