UNT's resilient, caring community pulls together — A Message from the President

Neal Smatresk

April 2, 2020

Dear UNT family,

There is no handbook for handling a global pandemic. There is no guide for navigating a world flipped upside down and inside out. We are human and with that humanity comes anxiety, vulnerability, fears, stress and selfishness. But when I look at our UNT community, those are not the traits I see. We are strong, resilient, brave, determined, creative, unified and selfless. Our Mean Green family was made to tackle times exactly like these.

I want to take a moment to share with you some of the examples of hope I’ve seen from our community in recent weeks. With less than two months remaining in the semester, our faculty halted their entire worlds and reimagined nearly 8,000 courses to find creative solutions to very unique problems. Our faculty stepped into the discomfort of the unknown because being there for our students who need to finish the semester successfully is more important. None of these herculean efforts would be possible without the support staff across the university, many of whom are tackling a variety of issues to keep our university going for our students and our community — and most are doing this from their own newly adapted home office environments. None of these changes have been simple or easy, but every single issue we’ve addressed has been to help our students succeed.

To all UNT students, you inspire us every day. You are the reason we continue moving forward. You, too, have hurdled countless obstacles and adapted to an ever-changing reality while admirably managing many stressors. You have done so with fearless spirit. Keep going. We are ready to help you climb mountains. You need only ask.

We also have hundreds of students who continue to call our campus residence halls home. To the staff who are caring for those students, feeding and housing them, protecting them, you are the epitome of the community values we hold dear. To the students, we remain sensitive to the toll this unprecedented crisis is having on you who are having to adjust not only in your learning but in many cases now are unable to work or be with your families. If you would like to show your support during these challenging times, we’ve established a special fund to help our students with immediate and pressing needs.

Our values also are evident among our alumni, who are proving that we truly are all Eagles for life. Once again, “Mattress Mack” Jim McIngvale is providing for the Houston community — this time by distributing meals to children and seniors. Lecrae has joined forces with the organization Love Beyond Walls to set up handwashing stations in Atlanta for the homeless; and fashion designer Khanh Nguyen has taken fabric she normally uses for her stunning wedding gowns to sew masks for health care professionals in Dallas.

You can read more about our alumni and some of their amazing efforts in supporting others during this crisis, as well as take time to read about university happenings in the spring issue of the North Texan magazine online. You also can find inspirational stories about our faculty, staff and students here. We will continue to post more of these online as we collect them and encourage all of you to share with us how you or someone you know has been making a difference during this time.

I continue to be amazed every day by the support, resilience and ingenuity displayed by our students, staff, faculty and alumni when every hour seems to bring more change and more necessary adaptations. Continue to care for one another. Continue to help each other through these challenges. As difficult as it may feel in this moment, we are becoming a stronger, more connected community through this shared experience. Let’s stay together in spirit and unity of purpose as the Mean Green family I am so very proud to call my own.

UNT proud,
Neal Smatresk
UNT President