As another sign of our continuing momentum at UNT, I am very excited to share that we recently welcomed our largest-ever freshman and transfer classes, which helped take our total student population to nearly 39,500. We began the semester showing new and returning students exactly how we care about each of them by mobilizing the #UNTCares campaign and assigning staff to seven tents across campus to answer student questions, provide directions and help quell first-week jitters.
In this issue you will also see how the tenacity of five alumni helped them face difficult challenges in their lives but find the fortitude to continue on and succeed. At UNT, we constantly reinforce with our students that the university is here to help them succeed even when faced with very difficult circumstances.
This fall marks the opening of many truly amazing facilities, including the Biomedical Engineering Building at Discovery Park and our newest 580-bed residence hall for freshmen -- Joe Greene Hall. In our Q&A with Joe, you'll learn why he chose the University of North Texas and what career-defining moments make him most proud.
We also learned recently that 77 of our academic programs -- up from 72 -- are ranked among the nation's top 100. Read about UNT researchers working to combat air pollution and chronic illnesses, which is just one example of our Tier One research.
At my 2019 State of the University address, I discussed our path for the future and stressed the importance of collaboration as a critical component in helping us achieve our stated goals for the 2020-2025 strategic plan. Student empowerment and transformation, people and processes, and scholarly activity and innovation are the three focus areas of our plan, which will be presented to the UNT System Board of Regents in November.
We anticipate this will be another fantastic year for UNT, and we look forward to celebrating with our Mean Green family at Homecoming on Nov. 2.