North Texas Daily

Chancellor shares plans, addresses concerns at town hall

Chancellor shares plans, addresses concerns at town hall

Chancellor shares plans, addresses concerns at town hall
October 20
15:30 2022

Chancellor Michael R. Williams made appearances at the university, UNT Dallas, UNT Health Science Center and more for his “listening tour” town halls.

At the HSC town hall on Sept. 12, Williams presented his final address as the HSC president, and his successor Sylvia Trent-Adams spoke about Williams’ accomplishments. Williams was named chancellor in December, and this year will be his first in the role. 

“I am excited that we will be implementing the values-based culture across the entire UNT system,” Trent-Adams said. “I think this is primarily one of the main reasons I came to HSC. The impact that Dr. Williams has had on the community, the students, the faculty and the staff is immeasurable. I want to thank you for your service, for making HSC a better place to work and we all wish you continued success in your role as UNT system chancellor.”

The Denton campus event welcomed students and faculty to hear Williams and President Neal Smatresk speak on new plans for the university system, which include values such as trust, care and creating a “people first” culture.

“We have done these exercises over the years even since I have been here,” Smatresk said at the UNT Denton campus town hall. “Prior to that, there were strategic plans, mission statements and values that were selected kind of like magnetic refrigerator poetry. Groups of people got together and threw a bunch of words against a wall, wrote them down and then forgot about them.” 

Smatresk said being a value-driven organization means saying things they believe in and following through. He emphasized “caring” as being an important word to the university at this time. 

“Every university in the country says they are a caring university,” Smatresk said. “I happen to believe that for us — that rings true.”

After the introduction from the president, Williams took the stage to address the crowd, primarily faculty members, that nearly filled the chairs in the Union Emerald Ballroom. There were also about 200 people attending the event virtually.

“The first thing that has to happen in a values-based culture is building a culture of trust,” Williams said. “I have been in the system now for 10 years. I was a board member before that, and I have heard repeatedly and felt that trust was lacking in the organization as a whole.”

He explained trust takes years to build, and it takes not just himself or Smatresk to do it, but everybody in the organization. The chancellor then shared a new vision statement.

“We’re focused on students and their families,” Williams said. “There’s an emphasis on excellence, and what I mean by excellence is excellence in the ordinary. It means that with those daily things we go through […] we stop and think, ‘How can I do this in the most excellent way?’”

Williams emphasized having open communication with all levels of faculty and staff at the university. He encouraged others to bring ideas forward and let them know how they can be helped. 

“I want to do away with ‘We versus them’ and make sure we’re all understanding that we’re here working together for the same common purpose,” he said. 

Among the questions were concerns about students being able to attend future town halls, as it took place during a time when many students have class. Williams said in the future, students will certainly be a part of it.

The audience also expressed concern about the future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion staff in the system office.

“I think [diversity and inclusion] is an important part of what we do,” Williams said. “It is not underrepresented in the system, we changed the structure and it is very important to me and to our team. I’ll also tell you from my personal experience that a values-based culture goes a long way to support the principles of diversity and inclusion.” 

He said DEI was not on their strategic plan because it was already woven through what they are doing. 

Featured Image: Chancellor Michael Williams speaks to the audience during his “listening tour” Town Hall at the UNT Denton campus on Oct. 6, 2022. Photo by Jillian Nachtigal

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Jillian Nachtigal

Jillian Nachtigal

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