Aug. 18, 2016

Dear faculty and staff,

As our anniversary celebrations came to a close this year, I marveled not only at how far we have come in 125 years, but at how much we have achieved in just the last year.

In the 2015-16 academic year, we had record enrollment, joined the top ranks of research universities and launched key initiatives like UNT's New College at Frisco and our Institutes of Research Excellence. These milestones build on a foundation established in 1890 while moving us toward the UNT of tomorrow. And they give us momentum as we head into the 2016-17 academic year. Enrollment is expected to increase, and we are expecting another strong, diverse freshman class.

In the past two years, we've made enormous progress addressing issues and making structural changes to put the university on solid ground to grow. In that time, we've had notable achievements, such as moving into the top tier of research universities in the Carnegie Classification, investing in academics and student success initiatives like the Class Concierge, and giving merit raises to faculty and staff.

Now, it's time to change the way we work, interact and collaborate across university areas to further improve academics, research and reputation while helping our students succeed and graduate at even higher rates. At this year's Planning Implementation Workshop, United by Purpose, we invited 120 internal stakeholders, made up mostly of deans and department chairs, to help us set our priorities for the 2016-17 year. We focused on three broad goals:

Communication. Collaboration. Innovation.: Build a nimble and innovative culture.

Research and Reputation: Increase research, scholarship, reputation and engagement.

Student Success: Create innovative ways to continue to deliver or develop great new programs that meet students' needs and prepare them for strong careers.

Through group discussion and voting, we identified three projects that will be implemented this year. Each project will get seed funding — much like a start-up venture. Teams of people from different areas across campus will work together to implement the projects in a networked, "Change Team" approach, which you can read more about and learn about the winning projects. You also can watch a recap of the workshop.

I will unveil the selected projects at the 2016 State of the University, where we will review our current accomplishments and our future priorities.

Join me for my State of the University address at 3 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Murchison Performing Arts Center. Doors open at 2:15 p.m.

Through the "Change Team" approach, we're recommitting to being a collaborative team that works across boundaries to achieve our goals together to advance our entire university. Our fundamental goals are to help our students get a great education and build strong careers. To help them achieve this, we must be nimble and innovative. We must embrace change. And we must work together.

Starting with the workshop and throughout this coming year, we're dedicated to developing a team mentality, united around our common interests and purpose, to make UNT the best place to get an education. We may be made up of 10 divisions, 12 colleges and schools and 58 departments, but we're one team, united by purpose.

I look forward to what's to come this year and in our future. Thank you for all you do. Let's have a great year!


UNT Proud,

Neal Smatresk