DSA Listening Tour

Thank you to everyone who participated in the DSA Listening Tour with Vice President for Student Affairs Elizabeth With. Below are the university and division-wide questions that were asked and suggestions that were made. If you have additional questions or comments, then you can submit them either with your name and contact information or anonymously here.


  1. University Issues
  2. Division of Student Affairs Issues
  3. Communications Issues
  4. Professional Development
  5. Salary/Merit Increases

1. University Issues

What is the university doing to increase retention?
Read about the university’s initiatives here. There is also an effort to focus on male students of color, which Melissa McGuire is involved with, and there will be a Male Success Summit on June 1.

Why is there not much storage on campus?
Unfortunately, space utilization on campus is at 99.9% capacity. We will continue to work on finding a solution to this problem.

Are there plans for opening more satellite campuses to meet the needs of the increase in students that the university wants to have? If so, where?
Gainesville, Alliance and Collin College are being considered, with New College at Frisco serving as the sample infrastructure.

Where does the university plan to expand land wise?
The only plans is place to expand outside of the main campus are in Frisco. Read more about this here.

What is the plan for Frisco campus?
See previous question.

Is there an update regarding plans for Sage Hall?
The first floor is finished. The third floor should be completed by next spring. Programming is underway for the second floor.

Would like to see improvement in connecting Frisco campus to main campus and show how all buildings (particularly residence halls) are not just buildings but vital places of support for students.
Though more emphasis will always be placed on academic buildings, we will research ways to incorporate more programming into other buildings and showcase them where appropriate.

What is the plan for the Sack and Save building?
Plans are still being discussed for the best use of the space.

What is the status of the new dorm’s construction?
It will be completed March 2019.

What is the status of the new dining facility?
Plans are being finalized and it is projected to open in 2020.

The location of intramurals at night (Peterbilt fields) is problematic with students having limited means of getting there.
Expansion and lighting opportunities are currently being researched.

There is a lack of signage on the walking bridge directing people to Victory Hall.
This has been referred to Facilities.

Can there be more signage so people without permits will not park in faculty/staff spots?
This has been referred to Transportation Services.

More bus route stops are needed for the outside perimeter of campus.
This has been referred to Transportation Services.

Covered areas for bus stops are needed.
Some have been installed and more are being designed.

There are not enough bus stops at Victory.
This has been referred to Transportation Services.

What is the status of the One-Stop-Shop?
UNT is moving to Campus EMS for scheduling and conference and event planning, which should be installed spring 2018. More information will be coming as soon as everything is in place.

Why isn’t there as much UNT merchandise out there as there is for other universities?
Unfortunately, that is a licensing issue, but any suggestions for more merchandise can be made to the Athletics division. UNT merchandise has not always sold as well as merchandise promoting other schools, so buy it and request it from retailers.

What is the future of technology and software for UNT?
The university is migrating from Blackbaud to Canvas. The Career Center is now using Handshake. The university is creating working partnerships with NetDragon that could result in new technology for the campus. Read more here.

How does the university utilize staff who speak different languages? Can a list of those staff members be created and distributed to everyone?
We are looking into this.

The card-swipe training has been linked to assessment, but how are the values of the university, division and departments connected?
This will be addressed by the new director of assessment once she starts in July.

Will staff continue to be required to come in to work on ice/snow days? Who is considered to be essential personnel?
Essential staff will still need to come in to work. Check with your supervisor to see if you need to come in. More severe weather information can be found here.

Disaster communications such as DACA are not clear or timely, causing staff to not know what to tell students.
At the division level, we share everything as soon as we have all of the details. However, we must defer to URCM for official university messaging, which we then share as soon as we receive it.

Are there discussions happening about DACA or contingency plans being made? What do we tell students who are afraid?
Assure students that UNT will do everything it can to support them. Refer to the UNT president’s official message here.

Does UNT have any messages about Donald Trump Jr.?
URCM sent the university’s official message on Donald Trump, Jr., which was forwarded to all of the directors to share with their staff. The messaging was:

Donald Trump, Jr. has been invited to participate in the Kuehne Speaker Series, which is a series supported by private donors with the aim of presenting timely and stimulating perspectives on our world as it pertains to national security, our economy, and topics that are of interest to the university’s many and varied communities. As a public university that supports the expression of differing points of view as part of the learning process, UNT welcomes speakers who represent all viewpoints, including conservative, liberal and progressive political ideology as well as all positions in between. The Kuehne Speaker Series is supported by private donors, and the speakers for the series are selected through a collaborative discussion among the series benefactor, the series donors and UNT staff.

How should departments address national issues such as the Sutherland Springs shooting? Should students be taking the lead?
Students will more than likely be the first to take action, and we should support them. Make sure you talk with them as you work with them because our relationships with our students are our greatest strengths.

Why does UNT’s higher education program require two graduate assistantships rather than one? Students must move to another area shortly after they have learned the first area.
Our philosophy is that it helps students build their resumes and broaden their scope. While more difficult on staff, we believe it’s better for the students in the long run.

Which type of campus culture are we trying to create at UNT (residential, commuter, or public transportation accessible)?
We would never want to be known as strictly a commuter school, so we are continuing to find ways to make the campus more residential (renovating existing residence halls, building a new residence hall and a new dining hall and offering more on-campus programming). Transportation Services is working to make public transportation more accessible to students as well.

Are there things staff should be preparing high school students for or warning them about with regard to college life?
Students often have a lack of belief in themselves, so remind them about what they have overcome.

Staff are trying to increase their efforts to partner with faculty in talking to students, but is there a contact in Academic Affairs who they can reach out to?
You can contact Mike McPherson, associate vice provost for faculty.

Can the amplified sound policy be modified? Events are generally held from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., but amplified sound is not allowed until 11:30 a.m.
This has been referred to Mike McPherson, associate vice provost for faculty.

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2. Division of Student Affairs Issues

What were the areas of concern that were discovered as a result of the 360?
Information wasn’t making its way down to staff in the division, and the deans didn’t know what was happening in the division. We have addressed those issues by creating more division communications (weekly In the Know e-newsletter and DSA News page) and holding Listening Tour sessions with each DSA department and dean.

How does the division fit in with the president’s disruptive initiative?
The president wants divisions and departments to think outside of the box regarding how we engage students in our programs. I encourage DSA departments to think about how you could possibly offer your services in new ways (at satellite locations, online, etc.) to meet the changing needs of students.

Will a college education become too expensive?
We are hopeful the state will allocate more money to higher education so that we can make pursuing a college education more affordable to students, but in the meantime, we need to be as efficient as possible with our resources. We are exploring ways to reduce the costs of textbooks for students.

What does the VP see as the purpose of higher education?
It is both for vocation and to learn (depending on the individual), so we need to cater to both.

What does the VP see as the next national trend with student affairs?
Right now, many universities are exploring ways to address student mental health issues. Many universities, UNT included, are also exploring what it means to be a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and a Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS). The challenge for all of us is to study the trends and modify our programs and services accordingly.

What is the VP’s vision for the division for the next five years, and will there be a major reorganization?
This will depend on the president’s vision, but we don’t anticipate any major reorganizations in the immediate future. Higher education is changing, and in order to continue to grow our student population, we will need to offer more of our services online.

Where are we headed long-term knowing that students will increasingly need our services but without an increase in funding? What does that mean for our departments and for the division?
The president talked about being disruptive and finding new ways of doing things. More academic programs will be available online, so we will need to explore how we can offer more of our services online as well.

Academic programs are moving to an online format, but what about Student Affairs?
All DSA departments are encouraged to start thinking about how they can offer more services online. For any academic program where a student can take 100% of their classes online, we offer an online orientation for them.

What support from the division will there be in expanding department’s services online or to satellite locations?
The division will continue to provide the same support. Each department should build strategies for expanding their services into their plans for the new academic year and work with the directors and senior staff on the best allocation of resources.

Could there be a Continued Flight program for upperclassmen similar to First Flight Week?
It’s the hope that the Graduating Year Experience (GYE) becomes something like this for graduating students. More information on the GYE can be found here. Students access it from the MyUNT portal (shows up when certain benchmarks are met for undergraduates and graduates).

Could there be a meeting of all of the mentorship programs so there is not duplication and the training is consistent for everyone?
Although there are several mentoring programs on-campus, OTP offers a centralized peer mentor training each semester. It’s our hope all “mentors,” regardless of term used to describe them, go through OTP’s training and then their own department’s training.

Could there be a meeting of all of the student leadership groups as well?
This is being looked into.

The job title changes have brought about issues with working titles. What can be done about that?
The VP will approve working titles on a case-by-case basis.

Will there be more inequity and diversity training across the division, especially relating to marginalized and underrepresented groups? Will leadership be participating?
We are exploring more diversity training options for the entire division.

What is the vision for esports?
We are still in the process of defining what our program looks like, but we have hired an esports coordinator, Dylan Wray, and will be launching four intercollegiate teams this fall in the games of League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.  We will compete in the National Association of College esports (NACe) tournaments and ULoL tournaments. We hope to partner with local professional teams and owners to provide our teams with the necessary tools to compete at the collegiate level. We hope to support all of the gaming student organizations for UNT. We hope to be able to provide these teams with the best equipment, practice and competition space, travel opportunities and staff support that they need to be successful. Read more here.

It is hard to showcase successes with the data staff are asked to provide, and it is difficult to show the impact on students and student success.
The new director of assessment that we are currently in the process of hiring will work with each department on this.

Where is the DSA in the process of filling the open division positions (development officer, director of assessment)?
Arigayle Head has been hired as the Director of Development for the Division of Student Affairs and will be starting in June. She will be meeting with the senior staff and directors to determine fundraising priorities for the division. The new Director of Assessment has been hired and will be starting in July. More information will be coming.

It is becoming more expensive to conduct outreach and tabling as well as hold events in the University Union with prices having increased since last year.
The new University Union director will look at event costs and scheduling structures this spring and summer.

There seems to be a disconnect between Event Planning and Facilities, resulting in items that were ordered not arriving for events. Labor bills also arrive months after the events have taken place, making it difficult to budget for future events.
The new University Union director will look at this issue, but Campus EMS should help expedite bills.

It seems that there is not enough staff in Event Planning.
It will expand with a new structure soon.

Could offices remain open until 6 p.m. for non-traditional students to utilize?
This will be a discussion with the division directors.

How does will the new orientation format/schedule positively affect students?
The new format will give incoming students more options to fit with schedules, which keeps UNT competitive with other universities.

What is the risk associated with switching to the new orientation format/schedule?
The new format will come with a higher financial cost and will require staff to work a few more days during the summer, but we believe the benefits will make it worthwhile.

What are the expectations for centers to be open during the summer with the new orientation schedule?
This information will be sent out soon.

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3. Communications Issues

Will there be a post-event survey about the retreat so feedback can be given?
A survey and the results were sent to the division last fall.

Policy changes often lead to confusion when start dates are not clearly communicated to staff.
We will inform directors of any policy changes and they will inform their staff.

Staff want to know what is going on in the DSA, and they like the idea of sharing successes, but they are concerned with receiving too much communication.
In the Know is the DSA weekly email where any successes can be shared. Successes are also posted on the DSA News page for viewing anytime. DSA Marketing and Communications is also exploring additional means of communication without being overwhelming to employees. Please let Ray Willhoft know about any successes that you have had.

There is often a disconnect with other departments when there isn’t contact on a regular basis.
Through In the Know and the DSA News page, we try to keep everyone informed about what is going on within each department. Also, updates are shared at division meetings, which are also great opportunities to talk with colleagues from other departments. The DSA Staff Development Committee is working on additional events for DSA staff to socialize and get to know one another.

It would be helpful to have resources for new DSA staff on the website.
There are resources here, and this suggestion has been referred to the DSA Staff Development Committee as well.

It would be helpful to have one DSA event calendar to keep staff informed about big events (especially helpful when planning their own events).
Departments should be posting all of their events on their websites and on the university calendar. For technical help with posting events, contact Kara Ottinger.

It would be helpful to have the deadline for submitting news, events, etc. on the website.
News can be submitted anytime to Ray Willhoft for posting on the DSA News page and should be sent by Thursday of each week for inclusion in Friday’s In the Know e-newsletter.

Could there be one communication/digest from the division to students so that they are not bombarded and will pay more attention?
As part of their class project, two UNT students are currently surveying the student body to determine which communication methods they prefer and are the most effective. Once we have the findings later this semester, we will share it with everyone and use it to modify our communications strategies.

How should staff handle questions from students about other departments without giving them the runaround?
Transfer students to the best people able to answer their questions, but always be courteous and polite and remain on the line until the call has been successfully transferred to the correct department.

Would like to get the word out more about the programs to students and other departments and bring more recognition to the programs.
Contact Ray Willhoft for help with publicity and marketing.

The nature of the work for some departments is confidential, so no one hears about the successes.
Contact Ray Willhoft to see what successes can be shared and how to bring publicity to your department.

What will be done with the feedback from the Listening Tour?
We will answer as many questions as possible and explore ways to implement the suggestions made.

Some staff are not always aware of when the directors meetings are held.
A list with the meeting dates will continue to be included in In the Know, and directors can contact Sandy Howell for the meeting dates.

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4. Professional Development

Is training kept track of and reviewed when applying for jobs?
Human Resources keeps all official UNT training on file. This can be requested by departments when reviewing potential internal candidates for open positions.

What are the Staff Scholarship details?
Details can be found here.

Professional development is important to the staff, but there often is no time to focus on that due to the work load.
The DSA Staff Development Committee is exploring new programs to be held in the summer when the work load is usually less for most departments.

Can the division create more opportunities for new employees to meet other staff members other than New Employee Orientation?
This has been referred to the DSA Staff Development Committee.

Can a mentorship program for new employees be created? Perhaps a cohort element as well?
This has been referred to the DSA Staff Development Committee.

What advice can the VP give to a new employee for him/her to build relationships and succeed within his/her department and the division?
Volunteering to serve on university, division and department committees is a great way to meet new people and gain new skills.

What advice would the VP give to a graduate assistant who eventually wants to become a VP in student affairs?
Get as many experiences as you can. Volunteer to serve on committees and volunteer to help with events other departments are hosting.

Where does the career ladder fit within the division?
Staff have to be willing to make more lateral than vertical moves.

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5. Salary/Merit Increases

Where can information on the new job classification be found?
UNT job descriptions can be found here.

Who were staff compared to for the staff compensation study?
Most staff positions were compared to those at other universities. Medical staff positions were compared other medical professionals.

How were the SMEs chosen for the staff compensation study?
Each subject matter expert (SME) was recommended by the steering committee and approved by the vice president of his or her division based on his or her knowledge of a wide range of staff positions and job duties in that area. You can find more information here.

Did the staff compensation study results affect merit increases for this year?
Employees were informed of job grading results in September and title changes and compensation adjustments went into effect Oct. 1.

What are the conversations that are happening at higher levels about salary compensation?
You can read the UNT president’s remarks here.

Will there be merit raises?
The UNT president authorized a 2-percent merit pool this year at the discretion of managers, effective Feb. 1, which was reflected in March 1, 2018 paychecks.

Will there be a cost of living salary increase?
This would have to be approved by the state legislature.

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