Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022

Dear UNT Faculty and Staff,

For the past three years, UNT has grown more than any school in Texas. This is an incredible achievement that should make us all proud. In addition to our strong academic programs, students come here because they feel accepted for who they are, and because of our caring nature.

While we are bringing in more students than ever, our student retention has fallen from its peak levels, and we did not achieve our retention goal — for at least 80% of Fall 2021 freshmen to return to UNT in Fall 2022. Many factors may have contributed to this, including our students' mental health, financial challenges, COVID, college readiness, and a strong job market. We are a powerful engine of transformation for our students, and we all know that a college degree has far-reaching impacts on their lives, so I am again asking for your help.

Now, more than ever, our students need our support and care. I have talked to students who are struggling with friends, family, bills, and classes. I know you are all committed to our students' success, so let's continue to lift them up and provide them with resources, encouragement, and a friendly ear. You and your interactions with students matter, whether it is for guiding them to academic and engagement resources found on the Succeed at UNT website or showing them they belong by listening and sharing stories that demonstrate your empathy for all that is going on in the world.

This year, let's continue to recognize the stresses we are facing and offer each other the support needed to be a supportive, caring community. We want our students to thrive in our UNT community, then graduate, and accomplish great things. Working together, we can change students' lives and fulfill our mission. Thanks so much for your help and for how you each support our students and each other.

UNT Proud, Neal Smatresk UNT President