May 13, 2019

Dear UNT faculty and staff,

We've just wrapped up the best year ever at the University of North Texas. Over the weekend, more than 4,800 students received their degrees, and are now empowered to enter the workforce and achieve their dreams. It was a joy to see our UNT family at Friday's Graduation Block Party. Thanks to everyone who coordinated, planned and contributed to the event, no matter how large or small your role. It was a wonderful celebration and send-off for the Class of 2019.

This past year, we set records in everything we do because of you — our incredible faculty and staff members. If you reflect back on this year, we received our largest-ever gift of $30 million from G. Brint Ryan for the College of Business, acquired Inspire Park in Frisco, and we continue to forge valuable partnerships that will extend our national prestige and academic reach.

Our reputation is growing in almost every measurable way, with 72 of our programs ranked in the Top 100, and more students and faculty earning national awards than ever before. This summer, we'll offer even more courses, and our enrollment numbers for fall are surging. Our research funding is at an all-time high, and we are having what looks to be the most successful legislative session in recent years, which should yield gains in funding that will support our academic and research plans.

It has been a big year for campus projects as well, with the opening of the new CVAD building, a beautiful new Welcome Center, a new Soccer and Track and Field Complex, and final preparations for opening Joe Greene Hall and our new Biomedical Engineering Building to welcome students in the fall. We broke ground on a new 750-seat dining hall that will further establish us as national leaders in campus dining, and our Mean Green Athletics' indoor practice facility is moving along quickly. We said goodbye to Fouts Field and will soon add 1,100 parking spaces to the campus footprint, which should meet our parking needs for the foreseeable future.

The credit for all our success goes to you — our faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly to move all these major initiatives, and provided the care and customer service that are improving our students' success, experience and retention. Thank you for going the extra distance to make a difference in the lives of our students.

To continue moving the needle, we will emphasize collaboration across all facets of our community so that we can continue to improve what we do, eliminate barriers to our students' success, and support each other better. Creating a culture of collaboration and lessening the “UNT runaround” are top priorities for UNT as we develop our 2020-2025 strategic plan. During the spring semester, Provost Jennifer Cowley, Vice President for Planning Debbie Rohwer, and I met with faculty from 56 academic departments and conducted six town hall meetings with students, faculty, staff, alumni and other community members to gain input for the strategic plan. This summer, we'll visit each of the VP areas, to solicit your input about how to make UNT a better university, how to improve our mission and hear about the innovative ideas we should support. I want to thank all of you who shared your vision for the university, and your input on how to make us better as we plan and rebrand.

Thank you for making our university strong, for making valued contributions and for helping us move into a new era as a Tier One research university.

UNT Proud, 
Neal Smatresk