University of North Texas

UNT monument sign near North Texas Boulevard and Interstate 35.

New degrees, the financial impact of the pandemic, and shifting demographics are just a slice of what University of North Texas System regents are set to discuss this week.

Regents are scheduled to meet for more than 14 hours over Thursday and Friday, so the average person can be excused if they can’t find that kind of time during the week.

Below are brief overviews of just three issues regents will discuss:

New degree options

Regents are set to vote on the addition of several new degrees, all of which likely will be approved.

The Denton campus would gain three bachelor’s degrees: applied project design and analysis, addiction studies, and event design and experience management.

The UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth would gain a master’s degree in drug discovery and development.

Regents are scheduled to first take up the topic between 9 and 10:15 Friday morning.

Shifting demographics

All three of the system’s three campuses saw overall enrollment growth equal to an estimated 4% compared with this past fall semester.

The population of students who are Hispanic grew the largest in proportion to other racial and ethnic groups across UNT, UNT Dallas and the UNT Health Science Center.

Those students also belong to the fastest-growing population at UNT, according to information to be presented to regents this week.

Each campus reported that students of color make up the majority of campus enrollment, and students who are Hispanic made up the majority at the Dallas campus.

The health science center even saw a slight proportional decrease of 0.7% in the amount of white students enrolled.

Despite student demographics, people of color make up only 37% of employee population across the UNT System.

A U.S. Census Bureau estimate from 2019 showed people who are white Texans accounted for only 41.2% of the population.

UNT Dallas was the only campus close to that proportion in the employee population, according to the regents’ presentation.

It also has a higher than average share of employees who are Black, a slightly lower than proportional share of employees who are Hispanic and a roughly balanced share of employees who are Asian.

UNT’s Denton campus had the largest percentage of white employees with 65%, which represents a 1.9 percentage-point decrease compared with the previous year.

Job losses came from lower-level positions

Regents were told during their August meeting more than 500 jobs were cut or frozen at the Denton campus to mitigate budget shortfalls attributed to the ongoing pandemic.

A presentation for this week’s meetings shows 1,323 jobs total across the system were gone this quarter compared with the same time this past year. That represents a 10% decrease across the system.

The vast majority — 1,026 — of those were student jobs, which was already the largest cohort of positions across the system.

Temporary staff jobs left at the highest percentage, with 206 positions missing compared with this past year. That’s a 40% year-over-year decrease.

The system actually added 41 faculty members but cut 56 adjunct positions.

The only area with no increases or decreases was administration, which maintained 136 members across the past year.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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