Recognition Town Hall honors trailblazing grads, faculty and staff -- and calls for a school song

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UNT Dallas Recognition Town Hall

Before getting to many encouraging signs that have emerged from the record investment made in UNT Dallas over the last four years, President Bob Mong started off last week's Recognition Town Hall by emphasizing one unfulfilled initiative: "We need to come up with a school song," he said.

It's true, UNT Dallas lacks a school song, and what is more crucial to celebrating and preserving a university's pride and tradition than its school song? So, President Mong has put forth this challenge to students, faculty and staff: pen a school song that captures the essence of the university.

With that key agenda item covered, President Mong delivered a bevy of good news from enrollment eclipsing 4,000 for the first time to a continued increase in graduates -- 859 last academic year -- to the university's ongoing success to close the equity gap in higher education. He also identified several key strategic initiatives, including:

  • Keeping tuition and fees the lowest in North Texas
  • Retaining top employees
  • Launching a $2 million student success cohort
  • Introducing multi-semester registration
  • Introducing a study abroad program starting Summer 2020 in Barcelona
  • Starting an intercollegiate athletics program

Perhaps the most gratifying moment of the town hall came when President Mong introduced three UNT Dallas alumni, all local students who have gone on to take on meaningful work in nearby communities. Martha Fernandez is Senior Manager of Government Affairs at Dallas County Community College District, and is helping with the $2 million student success cohort; Star Williams is Director of Stars United Global Outreach, located two miles north of campus off E. Red Bird Lane; and Kenya Silver, Academic Manager at ScholarShot, an organization that aids the success of college students.

Next up were staff and faculty awards. President Mong handed certificates to: Cynthia Perez, Assistant Director of External Relations and Development, for her work in bringing the 826 National reading program and SparkPoint program to UNT Dallas; Traci Jones for her work on a myriad of campus projects; Arthur Lumzy, Director of Career Services, for his involvement with Chime Solutions, which offers work for students; and Essence Cleveland, Executive Assistant to the Provost & EVP of Academic Affairs, who just graduated from law school.

Faculty members Danielle Zanzalari, Paul Reynolds and Kelly Varga were congratulated for winning 2018-19 Faculty Alliance Awards.

And, finally, 18 faculty and staff members received the Outstanding Trailblazer Award:

  • Iftekhar Amin, Assistant Professor Human Services
  • Michelle Baptiste, Assistant to the Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Johnny Bullock, Director of Risk Management Services
  • Angie Castillo, Executive Assistant to the President
  • Richard Chandler, Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Program Coordinator
  • Roberto Cruz, Assistant Director of Academic and Financial Services
  • Aubrey Frantz, Lecturer of Biology
  • Michael Giallorenzo, Media Technical Manager (COL)
  • Yolanda Graham, Education Lecturer
  • Sommer Hadnot, Student Finance Cashier
  • Donna Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Chastity Hawkins, Coordinator of Student Financial Aid and Curriculum
  • Kevin Rocha, IT Manager
  • Irene Rodriguez Virgen, Laboratory Manager
  • Suma Ruth, Assistant Director of Career and Professional Development
  • Darrell Small, Crew Leader PM
  • Patsy Sosa-Sanchez, Assistant Professor of Bilingual/ESL Education
  • Myranda Staten, Senior Administrative Associate to Student Affairs, Student Life, and External Engagement