Listen to Story
The university has recently announced the interim deans for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, College of Engineering and two position changes in the current administration.
Adam Fein, vice president for Division and Digital Strategy and Innovation, was named the new chief information officer, in addition to his current title. The title change comes after President Neal Smatresk tasked Fein with improving and organizing the efficiency of information technology efforts earlier this year. In his new role, Fein will continue to organize information technology efforts and will partner with UNT System IT to develop the landscape of cybersecurity and cloud computing.
During the last six months, Fein and his team have been in the process of completely redoing the infrastructure, or the wires that run beneath the university’s surface to provide wireless internet. As the current CIO, one of the big things he hopes to develop are the general assignment classrooms.
“Every general assignment classroom will go from what we call a standard classroom to an advanced meeting classroom, which means now your professors can record their lecture,” Fein said. “They just don’t have to stand [in front of] the podium all the time – they can walk around now. Your faculty can record and then put it on canvas for you, or also stream it.”
Half of the advanced meeting classrooms should be established by fall 2022 and are estimated to be available to the entire university by spring 2023.
Fein has emphasized he wants to do what is best for students and that he understands the struggles college students go through, especially when it comes to managing time, working multiple jobs, studying and completing assignments. He believes it is important to provide hybrid and online classes.
“Many students work,” Fein said. “I worked three jobs in college […] I didn’t have a choice when I was going to college, so I needed to be very careful about my schedule.”
Fein communicates with students’ needs by meeting with the undergraduate and graduate Student Innovation Advisory Board every month, where the board provides feedback.
“I can truly say that Dr. Fein definitely has the student’s [best] interest at heart,” Ramon Williams, UNT alumni and former chairperson said. “He made sure not only my ideas were heard but my voice had a seat at the table.”
As part of the USIAB, students attend board meetings to discuss topics such as digital resources, diversity, equity and inclusion. Being a chairperson, Williams was able to speak with department heads and faculty whose main concern was to provide effectiveness so undergraduate students have a college experience that is “beyond the standard.”
Michael McPherson — who was recently named the provost and vice president for academic affairs after serving as an interim — is assisting Smatresk with finding a way to focus on the well-being of students, faculty and staff members both mentally and physically.
“We are going to have a whole lot of different types of conversations,” McPherson said. “I suspect there could be some surveys, but I could imagine some focus groups. When you have nearly 43,000 students, you have to understand that our students are not this sort of block. They all need different things and it’s incredibly complicated. We won’t get it perfectly right, but if we are listening, we will get a sense of what students and staff need.”
McPherson has been a professor in the department of economics since 1992, and specializes in areas involving economics for developing nations. His previous leadership roles include acting dean of the Mayborn School of Journalism and associate vice provost for student success.
The university has also announced the interim deans for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, as well as the College of Engineering after the upcoming departures of Tamara Brown, executive dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Hanchen Huang, dean of the College of Engineering.
James Meernik, regents professor of political science and interim chair of the department of technical communication, will serve as the interim dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Shengli Fu, chair of the department of electrical engineering, will serve as the interim dean for the College of Engineering. Their appointments follow the addition of John Quintanilla, professor of mathematics, as new interim dean for the College of Science.
“The national search [for a new dean] is well underway for the College of Science,” McPherson said in a letter to faculty and staff. “Finalists will be on campus next week, and I hope to have the permanent dean in place before the start of the fall semester. National searches will soon commence for the Colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.”
Featured Image: The Hurley Administration Building stands at the end of the Library Mall on May 31, 2022. Photo by John Anderson