For graduation this year, we kicked off our new University-wide Commencement to honor the 8,300 graduates of the 2014-15 academic year as a university family. In addition to celebrating these graduates, the ceremony featured Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who chose to speak at UNT's commencement during his first year in office. His message was full of life lessons and humor.
Commencement was the perfect opportunity to launch our 125th anniversary year, which will celebrate our contributions and impacts as one of the state's leading universities. In 1890, we were established as a teacher training school on the Denton square. Now -- 125 years and hundreds of thousands of students and graduates later -- UNT is the nation's 25th largest public university and the largest in the North Texas region. Plan to join us in celebrating.
UNT's biggest impact is through our students. There is nothing more rewarding than to see them transform into college graduates and go on to become leaders, entrepreneurs and creators. As you'll learn in the essay by Whitney "Free" Smith, a UNT education doesn't just change students, it changes families.
As we look to the future, there are many signs of strength and progress. We're earning top rankings for degree programs like logistics, a strategic area we're focusing on together with plant sciences and engineering to help us on our path to be recognized as a top public research university. We're recruiting more academically talented students such as National Merit Scholars and students from the Top 20 percent of their high school class through the Eagle Advantage program. These are the things that will help UNT serve our region and state in new and important ways and claim our place among the top institutions.