President Neal Smatresk spoke about the university’s strategic direction for the New Year during the annual State of the University Address Tuesday afternoon at Winspear Performance Hall.
In his speech, Smatresk explained how the campus will help students develop professionally through a new program. Starting in fall 2022, the campus will encourage every student to participate in a freshman seminar, a zero-credit online course. The course will expose students to a variety of professional tips and skills, including commentary on career paths, resume writing, understanding core courses, and what employers are looking for.
“Every student should have the opportunity to explore career options, understand the market, know how to write a good CV and cover letter, how to go for an interview, how to sell marketable skills and how to negotiate a salary”, Smatresk said.
Smatresk said that students belonging to Gen Z increasingly see themselves as having multiple careers and wish to develop a new set of skills that will benefit the new generation.
“[Gen Z] students want multiple pathways and may need to be entrepreneurs, ”said Smatresk.
Smatresk also touched on the importance of taking professional internships. The campus wants to raise $ 300,000 in scholarship funds that will provide 300 students with $ 1,000 each for unpaid internships due to the growing concern of students sacrificing their jobs and income for unpaid experiences.
“We will be running a major campaign to help raise these funds from alumni and the private sector,” Smatresk said.
There are planning stages for building a new multicultural center by fall 2022. Smatresk said the new center will allow people to share common experiences and feel connected to the institution. He also said the campus will begin to incorporate a deep understanding of diversity and equity into the campus curriculum.
“It is essential that we do this because our students need to understand how [succeed] in a multicultural market, ”said Smatresk.
Smatresk also highlighted the university’s record enrollment this semester. The continued growth trend in the enrollment rate includes the highest number of freshmen in the history of the university with 5,533 students.
“We thought we were going to have an enrollment failure with COVID,” Smatresk said. “We didn’t know what was going to happen, but we got a four percent raise. “
While the student transfer rate has been stable since enrollment in the state’s community colleges has declined significantly, Smatresk said the university has exceeded expectations of 2,025 graduate students with 9,700 academics. The target for 2025 was 8,639 graduate students.
“When you walk into our campus, about one in four [undergraduate] Stellar students and graduate students surpass their strategic planning target of 2025, ”said Smatresk.
Smatresk also highlighted the Higher Education Emergency Fund which allocated a total of $ 70 million in grants and scholarships. An additional $ 35 million in grants will be distributed until the end of spring 2022.
“It’s an exciting time at UNT,” said Smatresk. “And I ask you all to help make this vision a reality and to continue our growth as an innovative new generation institution”
Smatresk concluded the presentation by presenting a Presidential Citation to Professor of Art History Nada Shabout for winning the 2020 Kuwait Prize for Arts and Literature from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science. The Kuwait Prize is known regionally as the “Arab Nobel Prize” and recognizes the lifelong achievements of Arab scholars.
“[Shabout] allowed us to examine in much more detail what really happened in the Middle East, especially in terms of the culture of creativity, and the vitality of cultures that help us understand that a truly strict culture does not is not one-dimensional, but highly dimensional, ”says Smatresk.
The selected image: UNT President Neal Smatresk delivers the State of the University Address inside Winspear Performance Hall on September 21, 2021.