Energized by our four bold goals, UNT has great momentum going into this academic year. We've welcomed another talented, large freshman class this fall after graduating more than 8,700 students in 2011-12 — our largest class to date. Both are signs that UNT's focus on providing a high-quality comprehensive education is attracting strong, degree-focused students. And we have committed faculty and staff members to help our students succeed. I'm proud to announce that UNT's distinguished faculty body now includes two National Academy members, with a third joining us in February. This gives our students more opportunities to learn from leading innovators.
Our staff members are standouts, too. They go above and beyond to give our students support and resources, and many are being recognized nationally for their service. Every faculty and staff member here is dedicated to our promise to provide students with a high-quality education and great support for a fulfilling college experience.
We're also extending our presence in the North Texas region, from remaining a pacesetter in teacher education as one of the nation's top colleges of education to opening UNT's Kristin Farmer Autism Center to provide help and research for individuals and families struggling with autism.
I hope you will join me in cheering on the Mean Green during our last year in the Sun Belt Conference before we move to Conference USA. The conference will raise the stakes for us in competition, national media exposure and name recognition.
These advances are about giving our students the ultimate educational experience, with the knowledge and skills they need to get ahead. UNT students are the backbone of the Texas workforce and economy, and it's because of them that we do such a good job of supporting Texas communities and businesses.