Outstanding Department winner and nominees recognized at the President's Staff Sack Lunch in July

July 20, 2023

­An Outstanding Department Award was presented at the President's Staff Sack Lunch July 19, and six other areas also were nominated by their vice presidents. Read about the work of the winning area and each nominee.

Outstanding Department Award

Department of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry representatives

The Department of Chemistry was recognized for its outstanding contributions to research and UNT’s educational mission. It has led the College of Science in dollars received from sponsored project awards per tenured faculty member for five of the last seven years, and its faculty members have received a major NSF grant to upgrade the CRUNTCh computing cluster as well as grants from the Welch Foundation, American Petroleum Society, Keck Foundation, Sloan Foundation and others. They hold many research, teaching and mentoring distinctions and five are among the top 2% of scientists worldwide cited in the scientific literature. The department also has expanded its research expertise, formally adding the divisions of chemistry education and chemical biology. To further its educational mission, the department has introduced undergraduate teaching assistants, improved TA training, increased sections to cut class sizes, increased student engagement, made curricular changes to better support struggling students and expanded its online offerings, among many other student success initiatives.

Outstanding Department Award Nominees

Accessibility and Compliance in DSI CLEAR

The Accessibility and Compliance unit continues to significantly contribute to the success of UNT. Over this past year, they have strengthened their partnership with the Office of Disability Access by creating new positions focused on the support of student’s digital accessibility needs. They have actively promoted and provided accessibility resources and trainings, including producing training courses in Bridge and Canvas and a detailed website full of resources. They have conducted comprehensive compliance reviews of 233 online courses and 175 new, professionally produced engaging videos for nine of our colleges and schools. They’ve tested new learning technologies to ensure accessibility and access for all students and provided more than 75 consultations for faculty and staff on third party tool accessibility.

Annual Giving in University Advancement

The Annual Giving team partnered with colleagues across campus, as well as key alumni and friends, to organize and execute the first comprehensive UNT Day of Giving on May 3. During a flurry of activity over 36 hours, camped out in the “War Room,” the team worked to ensure that email, text, phone, video and social media messages were delivered as scheduled. Colleagues worked to call donors who were having trouble giving online, make updates to the website and manage data entry. After the campaign ended, many hours were spent reconciling and appealing gifts so that all dollars were accounted for and recorded. Team members were online after midnight and before 5 a.m. for 48 hours straight to ensure the campaign’s success. The goals of 900 donors and $500,000 were surpassed with 913 donors making 1,062 gifts for a total of $602,618 in pledges and cash. Major gift officers assisted with securing over $300,000 in challenge gifts, and the campaign included over 150 first-time donors.

Department of Anthropology

The Department of Anthropology was nominated for its many efforts to attract and retain students. The Applied Anthropology Expo the department hosts in the University Union each year showcases what anthropology students, faculty and alumni do. Alumni from across the country make presentations at this event and draw hundreds of people. Other initiatives include the First-Year Besties program, which pairs senior first-generation anthropology majors with incoming first-generation majors during the first week of the semester, and the Padawan Project, which partners undergraduate anthropology majors with graduate students. The department also created the student/faculty liaison as the representative and advocate for undergraduate students to the department. Lucky's Little Library, a departmental mini-library, promotes faculty publications and offers students access to new hard copy and digital anthropology resources as well as a comfortable environment in which to work and get to know other students, faculty and staff. Other activities, such as the annual kickball game between faculty and students, demonstrate why the department has one of the most engaged student majors on campus.

Asset Management

Asset Management staff account for all 37,653 capital and controlled assets owned by UNT in Denton and Frisco and those owned by the UNT System. Not only does this team ensure that every asset is in the right place and accounted for, but they must also help with the disposition of assets that have outlived their usefulness. They do this by sorting assets into four categories: reuse in a different area, recycle, resell via an online auction, or donate to nonprofit organizations. Occasionally an item comes to them without any information so they act as part-time detectives to track the item and help departments figure out what to do with it. Between May and July they work with faculty and staff to do a complete asset audit, which requires constant communication and collaboration. All of this is done with a staff of about seven people. Their efforts also help bring thousands of dollars back to UNT with the surplus and scrap sales they organize.

Department of Biomedical Engineering

When the Department of Biomedical Engineering was created in 2014, it consisted of an undergraduate program with a faculty of one. It has now grown to over 300 students and 13 faculty, and offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. A unique feature of the program is that 49.3% of its overall student body is female. Underrepresented groups represent more than 38% of its student population. The department has graduated more than 180 students since 2018, and its graduates are in top U.S. biomedical companies and in medical schools. The Ph.D. in biomedical engineering is the first at a public university in Texas, with a startup track. The M.S. program in biomedical engineering has been ranked 9th and 2nd in the nation by Best Value Schools and Intelligent.com, respectively. And the department is one of UNT’s most collaborative, offering undergraduate tracks with minors in other engineering disciplines, biology, mathematics and business; an M.S.-M.B.A. degree with the G. Brint Ryan College of Business; and M.S. degrees with minors in business, audiology, music, biology, chemistry and other engineering disciplines.

Facilities Auxiliary

Each year, Facilities Auxiliary embarks on their "make-ready" initiative — cleaning and fixing up the more than 4,000 resident rooms in UNT's 15 residence halls and seven sorority houses, as well as the dining halls and Welcome Center. The roughly 25 staff members in this area have from May through July to do all of this. It's one reason that their manager calls it their "Super Bowl" — a time to give maximum effort so that residents have the best conditions in their rooms when they move in. This team collaborates with Housing Custodial while focusing on maintenance, HVAC and access issues. Student employees help them keep track of the status of each building to ensure all rooms are checked and ready to go. Having students on the team also reminds staff members how their jobs impact the biggest population at UNT. Summer "make-ready" is intense — in 2022 the team repaired more than 500 door-related issues alone. The HVAC team changed 1,700 filters and checked on 3,400 units and vents. They say their work is challenging but rewarding and helps them feel closer to each other as they support UNT’s students and goals.