System discloses UNT received more state benefits than entitled

May 29, 2014

Dear UNT faculty and staff members,

Since my arrival in February I have shared information with our community about a series of challenges with our annual budget, our fiscal records, and with excess state benefits draws. I’ve also shared my belief that while the obstacles we face are significant, they are surmountable.

We have made remarkable progress during the past few months and now have a vastly improved budgeting process that will put us on solid ground in years to come, and with the assistance of the UNT System and Deloitte & Touche, we will reconcile our financial records as soon as possible. 

In the spirit of continuing to be open and transparent with our entire community, I wanted you to hear directly from me that following an internal investigation aided by the Texas State Auditor’s Office, the UNT System disclosed that UNT drew about $83M more in state benefits than we were entitled to receive over the past 10 years. I believe an ongoing investigation by the state auditor will help UNT gain a better understanding of how and why such errors were made. Meanwhile, UNT System and state officials will discuss how this past funding imbalance can be fairly addressed in the future without reducing our academic and student success.

While we’re still learning more about how this serious lapse occurred and how the funds were allocated, it appears that the funds were used to support UNT’s educational mission, to keep up with nearly a decade of significant enrollment growth, to increase the number of graduates and to expand student support services.

We’ve taken steps to ensure that we no longer draw excess state benefits, so our current budget is not impacted by this error. Our Fiscal Year 2015 budget planning, already in progress, includes only state benefits for which we’re eligible. With our new budget process in place, and strong revenues, I don’t anticipate we will need further budget cuts.

I can assure you that UNT is financially solid and we are prepared to deal with the possible outcomes of the System’s disclosure. Given our significant contribution to closing the state’s education gap and the large number of students we graduate into the Texas workforce, I don’t believe the state of Texas intends to compromise our ability to continue our mission.

Everyone at UNT is committed to ensuring the quality of our students’ education each and every day. None of that will be compromised by this challenge and, in fact, we are more committed than ever to providing the best support, service and educational experience for our students.

Challenges often offer opportunities to make institutions stronger and more focused. Our community is strong and resilient, and I know UNT will emerge from this challenge stronger than ever.

Sincerely,

Neal Smatresk

President