Carrying The Momentum Forward

Momentum has been a strong ally for UNT Dallas in recent years. It has been part of the energy that fuels our campus, and it is driven by our people, our connectivity and values. Momentum has pushed us as a university and continues to lead us to new heights. As I listened to my friend and our Distinguished-Leader-in-Residence, Michael L. Williams, during his great speech with his wife, Donna, at our commencement, he distilled the philosophy that I believe sparks our momentum.
 
“We have to be courageous when we set our sights on new opportunities that others haven’t seen,” he said from the podium as we celebrated the biggest graduating class in school history. “We have to be courageous when we take new paths.”
 
Finding the courage, purpose and inspiration to keep climbing defines the spirt of UNT Dallas for me. Our momentum is very real, and it has been our engine during this growth period. It doesn’t come without challenges as we build incrementally. As a campus community, our fledgling university continues to enrich the lives of our students, strengthen our surrounding communities and improve society. It is a credit to the commitment of our faculty, staff and students. Momentum demands constant maintenance to keep it moving, and particularly moving in the right direction.  
 
With the holidays nearly here, I’m grateful for the sacrifices all of you have made over the last year as you have envisioned opportunities that others didn’t consider and created a better university, a better – and bigger – work environment, and a better Dallas. I wish you all a very happy holiday season, and hope you get some much-deserved rest during this time off as we get ready for 2018. Our momentum is vital, but it also demands energy.

 

So, enjoy your time away and Happy New Year!

 

More than 400 Graduate in Fall Commencement

 

More than 400 students received degrees from the University of North Texas at Dallas during Fall 2017 commencement ceremonies at The Inspiring Body of Christ Church. The celebration featured husband and wife keynote speakers Michael L. and Donna N. Williams, as well as a heartfelt talk by student speaker Ruhama Tolossa.
More: Commencement Features Three Speakers, UNTD's Biggest Graduating Class

 

Power Couple Delivers Keynote Address to Graduates

 

 

The Honorable Michael L. Williams, a leader in Texas education and civil rights for decades, and his wife, the Honorable Donna N. Williams, a national leader in engineering and construction, delivered the commencement keynote address. UNT Dallas graduates were treated to stories and lessons learned from this couple of over 32 years. Both have held positions in national government, chaired impactful charitable initiatives and overseen significant business ventures. They created a $50,000 endowed scholarship to support first-year students – the Michael and Donna Williams Distinguished Leadership Endowment – with preference given to first-generation students.  

More: Power Couple Deliver Commencement Address In First Time On Stage Together

 

Student Reflected on Life Journey From Ethiopia To UNT Dallas

 

As Ruhama Tollossa prepared to address her fellow graduates, she enjoyed the chance to reflect on the village that brought her from her birthplace in Ethiopia to the UNT Dallas commencement stage as the student speaker. 
More: Tollossa thrived at UNTD all the way to commencement stage

 

Highlights From Latest Town Hall Meeting on Student Fees

 

Students and staff gathered near the end of the Fall semester for the latest in a series of Town Hall meetings to discuss the student vote on a proposed increase in fees for enhanced support services and a medical office on campus. The Town Hall was also streamed online and questions were submitted from participants via social media. Students have received the online voting link through their campus email address, and the vote continues through Jan. 19. 
MoreUpdates & Discussion: Campus Town Hall on Student Fees 

 

Professor Brings Mental Health Care to Children of Puerto Rico

 

UNT Dallas Professor of Counseling Jennifer Baggerly has returned from Puerto Rico after four days on the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria, where she worked with children, parents and trained university students there who are studying social work.
MoreJennifer Baggerly Works With Children & Students in Puerto Rico 

 

Newman Civic Fellow Karina Judith Ortega Attends Conference

 

Karina Judith Ortega, a Presidential Jaguar Scholar in her second year at UNT Dallas, recently returned from what she described as a transformative trip to Boston, where she attended the Newman Civic Fellowship Conference. Ortega is the University’s first Newman Civic Fellow, an honor from Campus Compact that recognizes and supports community-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions to challenges facing their municipalities.

More: UNT Dallas Newman Civic Fellow Returns Aiming to Make Greater Impact

 

Student Granted Wish By Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas

 

Adrian Lopez, a freshman from Dallas, humbly expressed his gratitude in a ceremony during the annual Faculty and Staff Holiday Lunch. He is an excellent student and already had qualified for a scholarship, and the additional funding of $5,000 provided by Make-A-Wish of North Texas will cover any other expenses he may have related to school. Adrian’s parents, Miguel and Alma, and his sister, Arlene, were also in attendance. Adrian has pursued his education with few of his classmates, staff or faculty on campus aware of his medical hardships. He has sickle cell disease, and as part of his medical journey in recent years, Arlene donated bone marrow to her brother to help restore his immune system. 

More: Adrian Lopez Expresses Gratitude After Make-A-Wish Ceremony

 

Student Veterans Send Packages To Deployed Military Overseas

 

The Student Veterans Association (SVA) packed over 40 boxes full of goods for the holidays and shipped them to active duty military deployed overseas. The student veterans also raised funds with an outpouring of support from across campus. Each box included a personalized letter from UNT Dallas student veterans. Carol Ruiz, a U.S. Army veteran previously deployed in Iraq, said when they came up with the plan to create holiday care packages, it was a way to say, “we know what you are going through,” and the inspiration behind each box is from a combat veteran who thought, “this is what I would have liked to have received.”
More: Student Veterans Prep & Ship Care Packages to Military In Action Overseas

 

UNTD Use of Historically Underutilized Businesses Second in Texas

 

The HUB Utilization Report was released by the Statewide Procurement Division (SPD) Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Program, and the University of North Texas at Dallas ranked No. 2 in Texas for HUB utilization by state agencies in 2017. Only the Texas Military Department outpaced UNT Dallas in the largest percentage spent with Historically Underutilized Businesses among state agencies spending more than $5 million. 
More: UNT Dallas Ranks No. 2 In Texas in Use of HUB Vendors

 

Dr. Monica Williams Graduates From Leadership Texas

 

Joining a long tradition of distinguished women from a myriad of professional and personal backgrounds who have been invited to participate in the influential yearly leadership program, Dr. Monica Williams graduated from Leadership Texas. It presents an ideal environment for high potential women leaders to build relationships, share ideas and create support among their peers.
More: VP of Advancement Dr. Monica Williams Recent Grad of Leadership Texas

 

December News & Campus Updates

 

PROPOSED TUITION AND FEE INCREASE – The Student Government Association unanimously endorsed our proposal of fee increases in a late November vote, and there were productive discussions in a series of Town Hall meetings on the subject. The university has not raised fees or tuition since 2014, but to give our students greater services and continue this pattern of growth, it can't continue that trend in the coming year. The voting continues online, students have each received a personalized link in their campus email address, and if this referendum is approved by the students, President Mong aims to bring the student fee increase to a vote and request for a 4.8 percent tuition increase to the Board of Regents in February.
 
QEP ON THE HORIZON – The QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) is a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) requirement, and the effort is being coordinated by Dr. Elizabeth Muniz. We have chosen "Workforce Readiness" as our area of emphasis. When the Spring semester starts, our QEP campaign will be a major focus on campus.
 
ACADEMIC COUNCIL – Provost Dr. Betty Stewart has created an Academic Council to improve communication and awareness among faculty in all five schools about proposals. Voting members of the Council are the deans, vice-chair of the faculty alliance, SGA VP, director of academic advising and university librarian. Non-voting members include the Provost, registrar, interim associate provost, director of admissions, staff council rep and AVP for policy, planning and assessment.     
 
COLLEGE OF LAW STUDENT WINS AWARD FROM ACCESS TO JUSTICE – The Texas Access to Justice Commission (TAJC) presented third-year UNT Dallas College of Law student John VanBukirk with the Law Student Pro Bono Award. This award recognizes a Texas law student who demonstrates a commitment to delivering legal services to low-income Texans and a passion for advocating on behalf of the underserved. Nominations were solicited from all 10 law schools in the state, legal services and law students themselves.
 
ADMINISTRATIVE OUTREACH – In November, 20 of our 22 administrative assistants – including the executive assistants, administrative coordinators and administrative specialists that are so valuable to our daily operation – met to discuss methods to improve communication around campus and at the law school. This effort was led by Executive Admin Angie Castillo, who is also participating in the Navigating Leadership program. This outreach is valuable because these administrators touch every department and staff. Their ideas could have meaningful impact.
 
PRESIDENTIAL CABINET – Our Cabinet is planning for informal leader focus groups/Town Hall meeting early in 2018. An entire university community Town Hall will follow about a month later to seek ideas and suggestions that improve the culture and engagement at UNT Dallas. Human Resources Director Gary Finney is the chair of our culture committee. His team has been hard at work, developing ideas and assigning staff members to bring their concepts to life.
 
ENROLLMENT – We continue to forecast ahead of 2017 in our Spring enrollment, both for undergraduate and graduate students. This growth is evident in total numbers and semester credit hours. We're also focused on retention and doing all we can to make our students successful.  
 
THE DALLAS COUNTY PROMISE – The Dallas County Promise kicked off in November, as a partnership between The Dallas County Community College District (DCCD), UNT Dallas, and Southern Methodist University. After Thanksgiving, President Mong addressed all Dallas County public school district superintendents at a City Club event, and outlined why UNT Dallas, as a four-year university, has invested in The Promise. The pilot year is 2018-19. Currently, 6,900 of 9,200 students across 31 campuses have signed the Promise pledge cards. A percentage of early college high school students who are graduating with associate degrees this May could be on our campus in Fall of 2018.  
 
TRIO AND PRECOLLEGIATE PROPOSALS – Nakia Douglas is off to a rapid start as Executive Director of Upward Bound, our McNair programs and high school partnerships. He has assembled his staff and has been visiting area schools, building a sense of urgency about the benefits of a post-high school education. His relationships and background in those hallways are invaluable. Currently, 37 percent of Dallas County public school graduates achieve credentials, associate degrees or bachelor’s degrees by age 25. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has set a target of 60 percent of 25-34 year olds having reached those educational milestones by 2030.
 
BILINGUAL INITIATIVE PARTNERSHIPS – Mountain View College, part of DCCD, has received a $2.7 million grant to recruit more bilingual students into careers as teachers. Mountain View approached UNT Dallas with a partnership proposal that collaborates with our Charles Butt Grant from Raise Your Hand Texas, and our efforts with another DCCD campus, El Centro College. Our Emerging Teachers Institute continues to work to create its “Bilingual Teacher Superhighway” to address the shortage of qualified, bilingual teachers in local public schools. The UNT Dallas Raise Your Hand Texas Scholarship program received over 40 applicants.

VERIZON GRANT – A check presentation was held on Dec. 8 at Dallas City Hall. Verizon aims to raise awareness and prepare students to thrive in a digital economy and discover the possibilities in STEM fields. Verizon is supporting the UNT Dallas and Paul Quinn College STEM Community. Joining in the presentation (left to right) of a $50,000 grant to each university: Adam McGough, Dallas City Council Member(District 10); April Brumfield, Verizon; Bob Mong, President, UNT Dallas; Bruce Brinson, Chief Financial Officer, Paul Quinn College;  Christie Myers, General Manager, Neighbor Up; Tennell Atkins, Dallas City Council Member (District 8).

 
DR. JAMAICA CHAPPLE NOMINATED – Dean of Students and Assistant VP for Student Access and Success Dr. Jamaica Chapple was nominated by President Mong to become a Millenial Leader. The program is sponsored by the Association of American State Colleges and Universities, and helps identify and develop future college presidents from a pool of minority applicants. Dr. Betty Stewart and Dr. Monica Williams are graduates of the Millenium Leadership Initiative.
 
BUILDING UPDATES – Construction of the Student Center is progressing, with retaining walls mostly complete and above ground construction now taking form. Key infrastructure, such as underground plumbing, is complete. The College of Law renovations downtown are continuing on schedule. The Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) satellite on our main campus is being built out, and members of our faculty and staff are planning experiential programming for students. Michael L. Williams will be heavily involved with the DEC. As most are aware due to recent phone and internet service outage issues, the Starbucks in DAL 1 is nearing completion.
 
PROMOTING TOLERANCE CONFERENCE – President Mong spoke at a Promoting Tolerance Conference, which was sponsored by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the American Jewish Committee. Held at SMU, the conference brought young thought leaders from eastern Europe to Dallas. The foundation was created after the fall of the Soviet Union with the goal of promoting human rights and democratic principles in central and Eastern Europe. President Mong spoke of the importance of regional state public universities to educate America’s under-resourced students. 

PERSONNEL MATTERS – Congratulations to Alicia Brosette, who was promoted recently to Executive Director of Research & Development in University Advancement. She has been at UNT Dallas for two years. Ashley Johnson, a fixture in marketing and communications, is moving to the UNT System Office, where she will lend her talents to initiatives as Internal Communications & Engagement Strategist. Also, congratulations to H.D. Stearman, who has retired. We also wish a fond farewell and best wishes to Sarah Davenport.   

URBAN SERCH INSTITUTE AND THE COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP ACADEMY – Dr. Larry Terry, leader of the SERCH Institute, and his team are conducting a food insecurity study with the Red Bird Neighborhood Association. SERCH held a Town Hall to update the campus on its many activities. 

TURKEY TROT – Twelve students participated in the Turkey Trot, running the eight miles with President Mong. He promised students if they joined him, he would donate $1,000 to the SGA. 

 

Thanksgiving Baskets Provided for Local Families In Need

 

Students, faculty and staff teamed with a local non-profit agency to assemble and deliver food baskets complete with holiday dinners and additional provisions to last a week to 50 grateful families across Dallas. 
More: Thanksgiving Baskets Provide For Local Families