North Texas Daily

State of the University address highlights new career development program and record enrollment numbers

State of the University address highlights new career development program and record enrollment numbers

State of the University address highlights new career development program and record enrollment numbers
September 21
19:55 2021

President Neal Smatresk spoke about the university’s strategic focus for the new year during the annual State of the University address Tuesday afternoon at the Winspear Performance Hall.

In his speech, Smatresk addressed how the campus will assist students with professional development through a new program. Starting in fall 2022, the campus will encourage every student to participate in a First-Year Seminar, a zero-credit online class. The course will expose students to a variety of professional counseling and skills, including feedback on career paths, resume writing, understanding core classes and what employers are looking for.

“Every student should get a chance to explore career options, understand the marketplace, know how to write a good resume and a cover letter, how to interview, how to sell marketable skills and how to negotiate a salary,” Smatresk said.

Smatresk said students belonging to Generation Z increasingly see themselves having multiple careers and want 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,” Smatresk said.

Smatresk also addressed the importance of taking professional internships. The campus wants to raise $300,000 of scholarships funds that will provide 300 students $1,000 each for unpaid internships due to the growing concern of students sacrificing jobs and income for unpaid experiences.

“We’re going to have 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 bonded to the institution. He also said the campus will begin embedding a thorough understanding of diversity and equity into the campus curriculum.

“It’s critical that we do this because our students need to understand how to [succeed] in a multicultural marketplace,” Smatresk said.

Smatresk also highlighted the university’s record enrollment numbers this semester. The continued trend of enrollment rate growth includes the largest number of freshmen in the university’s history 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 increase.”

While the transfer student rate is flat since community college enrollment around the state has fallen dramatically, Smatresk said the university has exceeded the expectation of 2025 graduate students at 9,700 scholars. The target goal for 2025 was 8,639 graduate students.

“When you walk into our campus, about one out of four [undergraduate] students and stellar graduate students is exceeding their strategic planning target of 2025,” Smatresk said.

Smatresk also highlighted the higher education emergency funds that 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.

“This is an exciting time at UNT,” Smatresk said. “And I ask all of you please help make this vision a reality and continue our growth as an innovative next-generation institution”

Smatresk ended the presentation by awarding a President’s Citation to art history professor Nada Shabout for earning the 2020 Kuwait Prize for Arts and Literature from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. The Kuwait Prize is known regionally as the ‘Arab Nobel Prize’ and recognizes the lifetime achievements of Arab researchers.

“[Shabout] allowed us to look in much more detail, what’s really happened in the Middle East, especially in terms of the culture of creativity, and the vitality of cultures that help us to understand that really strict culture is not one dimensional, but highly dimensional,” Smatresk said.

Featured Image: UNT President Neal Smatresk gives the State of the University address inside the Winspear Performance Hall on Sept. 21, 2021.

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Juan Betancourt

Juan Betancourt

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