North Texas Daily

A look back at the 2014 State of the University

A look back at the 2014 State of the University

September 10
00:54 2015

Linda Kessler | Copy Editor

@LindaKessler

As the second State of the University address approaches next week, UNT President Neal Smatresk revealed that the university has accomplished about 85 percent of the goals he set last year.

“We will deliver change to this campus in a way everyone can track and will be healthy for us as an institution,” Smatresk said in last year’s speech.

Smatresk said the university has had an overhaul of operations and management in the last year.

“We improved operations through the reconciliation of the budget, insurance of accounts, major IT work and the reconfiguration of enrollment management,” Smatresk said.

UNT increased revenue production through cutting costs, increasing enrollment and increasing tuition. So now the university is able to re-invest in itself, Smatresk said, noting that UNT offered $1.5 million more in pure scholarship money this year.

Assistant vice president of budget and analytics Beverly Cotton said the $1.5 million increase was made up of both merit-based and need-based scholarships.

“I’d approximate we delivered about two years’ worth of work,” Smatresk said. “[FY15] was a fixing year where we looked at financial and software systems and business processes and kind of plugged some of the gaps in the academic arena.”

Budgets and Funding

Smatresk said when he became the president, officials had little insight on the numbers, didn’t have budgets and it was hard to manage effectively.

Now, deans will manage their own hard budget every year so the university can compare how money was spent and how the department performed.

In order to better align its academic programs with its mission, the university is taking a more analytical approach to evaluating each department. As it strives to be recognized as a tier-one institution, the process of tracking performance will become increasingly vital.

“We launched a program that roughly places every department on a quadrant plot that shows whether they are performing well from an education and student perspective, as well as a research and scholarship perspective,” Smatresk said.

UNT is not yet funding departments based on tier-one evaluations, but Smatresk said it plans to in the future.

“We want to be tier-one, and we have a whole series of metrics that really compare us to our aspirant institutions,” Smatresk said. “So, whenever [a department] spends a dollar, we should know what the impact of that [dollar] is in terms of us performing at a higher level.”

Campus Aesthetics

In the 2015 fiscal year, many physical projects, including the construction of Rawlins Hall and the University Union, were planned to increase the value of campus. A Master Plan for UNT’s Greek Row has also been approved .

Last year, Smatresk said UNT requested tuition revenue bonds from the Texas Legislators for a new College of Visual Arts and Design and a building for the science department. The building for the science department was not approved, he said.

“The new College of Visual Arts building is in programming right now, which is the step before you start design,” director of facilities planning and design construction Helen Bailey said. “In programming you put together a committee of stakeholders, and they work to come up with a list of functions to go into the building.”

Smatresk said UNT opened new labs at Discovery Park in 2014 and plans to continue in the coming years.

Bailey said UNT continued to add labs at Discovery Park and, though only one or two have been opened, they have other plans to add to the research space on campus.

“One of the things we’re discussing that would happen in December 2017 would be the opening of new Applied Physics building at Discovery Park, which would have lab functions in it,” Bailey said.

Facilities has yet to start the design of the project, but the building was approved at the August Board of Regents meeting and will be 30,000 square feet. In addition to the new building, Facilities is also working on a $15 million renovation of the Science Research building’s first floor.

“It’s in the design phase right now and will be about a 15-month project once they enter the construction phase,” Bailey said. “That building will also have research labs inside.”

Another of Smatresk’s goals for the 2015 fiscal year was to upgrade UNT’s data warehouse. He wanted to put together annual comparison charts and 5-year trend lines. Smatresk said this upgrade is well under way.

“Every year, I will publish the metrics I use and a five-year trend line for how we’re doing. I’ll have what I call the green and red hot-lists that will say ‘Here’s how we got better, and here’s how we got worse,’” Smatresk said.

These trend lines and hot lists will be shown for the first time at the 2015 State of the University Address at 2 p.m. September 16 in the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Featured Image: President Neal Smatresk poses in his office on Sept. 9. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer 

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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