North Texas Daily

UNT’s “Four Bold Goals” influenced by past shortcomings

UNT’s “Four Bold Goals” influenced by past shortcomings

UNT’s “Four Bold Goals” influenced by past shortcomings
January 16
10:23 2014

William Darnell // Editor-in-chief

This is a continuation of a two-part series. The first half ran in the Tuesday edition on Jan. 14.

Change on the horizon for UNT

With a new UNT president comes new ideas for the future success of the university, as was the case when the “Four Bold Goals” (FBG) strategic plan was announced on Feb. 13, 2012.

Outgoing President V. Lane Rawlins said he spoke to his successor, Neal Smatresk, about FBG, and while change may come in the future, he doesn’t think it will be drastic. Rawlins also said jokingly that even if he renames the FBG the “five magic principles,” the intent of the plan would remain.

“He’s a brilliant man, and he’s going to have some better ideas, ideas that will build on what we already have,” Rawlins said. “It would be foolish of me to say he won’t change things, because if I stayed here I would change things. Change is a part of managing for success.”

Part of that change could involve the expansion of UNT.

In an interview with the NT Daily, Smatresk said he would look to the University of Houston and Arizona State University’s multiple-campus model as a way to become more prominent in the area.“It seems to me UNT has the chance to create a really top-choice brand for the area,” Smatresk said. “Houston’s the dominant purveyor of public education in a very large metropolitan area. I feel that UNT ought to fill that role for the DFW metropolitan area.”

 Neal Smatresk chats with faculty and staff at a recent Welcome to UNT gathering. Photo by Junebug Clark / Contributing Photographer

Neal Smatresk chats with faculty and staff at a recent Welcome to UNT gathering. Photo by Junebug Clark / Contributing Photographer

However, it remains to be seen whether Smatresk’s plan would involve adding new campuses or putting a greater emphasis on the Health Science Center, UNT Dallas and the UNT Dallas Law School.

FBG replaced the previous strategic plan, which was intended to be from 2008 to 2013 and was announced when Gretchen Bataille was the president of UNT.

2008 Plan

Rawlins said the 2008 plan focused too much on reaching Tier One status, instead of focusing on the things that make Tier One universities great.

A close examination of the 2008 plan reveals several areas where UNT failed to meet expectations.

The first area where results were well below expectations is in freshman retention rate, which was projected to be 82 percent by 2013. The number for 2012 was 77 percent, or less than the 2005 percentage, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The primary goal of the 2008 plan was for UNT to attain Tier One research status — a lengthy and complicated process. Two of the main considerations for attaining Tier One status by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching are THECB (Texas Higher Education Coordination Board) restricted research funding and the number of doctorates awarded.

In both of these categories, UNT fell short of expectations given in the 2008 strategic plan.

The goal for 2013 in THECB restricted research funding was $35 million, while in 2012 the university reached approximately $16.5 million. The goal listed in the 2010 research strategic plan is $45 million for 2015 and $90 million for 2020.

That $45 million would potentially set UNT on its way to getting money from the National Research University Fund, which is a state fund of more than $550 million set aside and accessible by meeting certain THECB criteria.

According to the Texas Tribune, restricted research funding of $45 million is absolutely required, with additional steps such as awarding 200 PhDs and having an endowment of more than $400 million.

In 2012, UNT awarded 225 doctoral degrees, but not all of them were PhDs. The stated goal for 2015 is awarding 200 Ph.D.s.

UNT’s endowment for 2012 was $113 million, more than three times short of the required number.

What sets the FBG apart from past plans, at least according to university officials, is that it is not a one-day publicity stunt, but a way of thinking that, moving forward, influences every decision made on campus.

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor

Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor

Feature photo: Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor

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