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Aug. 10: Message from the Chancellor to Friend of UNT and UNTHSC

Lee Jackson, chancellor, UNT SystemAugust 10, 2012

Dear Friend of UNT and UNTHSC,

Next week, the Board of Regents of the University of North Texas System will take up a new and interesting reorganization proposal.  I want you to be aware of this subject in advance of its consideration, and I will welcome the opportunity to discuss it with you.

Board members will consider a proposal to stud y the possibility of combining the University of North Texas in Denton and University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth into a single academic institution. The goal of this reorganization would be to create more research and academic collaboration between our two largest campuses in all health and life sciences and other closely-related programs, and a stronger and more visible university in our region, state, and nation.  Such a combined entity  has the potential to enhance the academic reputation of our programs, increase  national  and international  research  funding,  improve our faculty and professional staff recruitment and further the success of our students, faculty members, and the communities we serve.

In many states, particularly those with highly successful research universities, the functions found in health science centers have always been contained inside a public university. Texas is one of a few states to maintain health-related institutions and medical schools separate from its general academic institutions.  During the past decade, other states have considered and implemented similar mergers.   In 2006, the Medical University of Ohio and the University of Toledo merged to become the third-largest public higher education institution in Ohio.  This yea r, the New Jersey Legislature is merging its public medical school into Rutgers University. In Georgia, Augusta State College is scheduled to merge next year with Georgia Health Sciences University.

In Texas, the University of Texas System has started the development of a new medical school  in Austin which will be part of the University of Texas at Austin.  The Texas A&M University System Board voted to investigate and pursue an administrative change bringing the Texas A&M University Health Science Center under the administration of Texas A&M University. (See attachments)

There are many issues in a possible UNT System reorganization which will need to be assessed should the Board authorize this stud y.  Many of them are internal to our campuses, affecting important aspects of research administration, faculty tenure and governance processes, and budgeting.  There are a l so important community partnerships to consider in both Denton and

Fort Worth, and it will be our clear goal in coming months to pursue only those organizational options that offer clear benefit to both UNT and UNTHSC, to Denton and to Fort Worth. (This proposal will not affect the structure or programs of UNT Dallas.)

It is not expected that a reorganization would achieve significant direct cost savings initially and that is not its purpose. Many of the opportunities for consolidating administrative offices have already taken place in the UNT System over the past two years as we have consolidated over 300 employees in offices that provide purchasing, payroll, information technology, and human resource services for our three campuses and System offices.

An administrative consolidation will require changes in state law and the review and approval of the Legislature, Governor, and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.  With the Board's approval, we will begin to discuss these issues with all appropriate state offices. There are also accreditation issues and schedules that affect each institution and the programs of study within them. We will explore the steps necessary to notify accrediting bodies of this potential change.

The UNT System will continue to explore all ways to fulfill the goals of our institutions, including UNT's efforts to achieve Tier One research status and UNTHSC's plans to become a major center of medical research. Both UNT and UNTHSC play a critical role in the North Texas region and in the future of Texas public higher education. Their roles in the Denton and

'Fort Worth communities must and will remain strong and continue to grow.  Any recommended changes must be beneficial to each institution, their surrounding communities, and the state.

Any study authorized by the Board will require thoughtful planning, careful consultation, transparency, and disclosure with potentially affected constituencies. I pledge to respond to any concerns and questions you may have and to keep you informed before any final decisions are made. If this study is approved, we will plan to provide the Board an initial report by its November 2012 meeting, detailing the advantages, disadvantages, and opportunities in such a consolidation, considering institutional, community, regional, state, and national impacts, and providing a System recommendation whether or not to proceed.

I hope you will call me with any questions or concerns you may have at any time. Should the study recommend significant changes, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss those changes.

I appreciate your leadership in our region and your continued interest in and support of the UNT System. I have attached additional information on the topic for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Lee F. Jackson

Chancellor, UNT System

 

Posted on: Wed 14 November 2012

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