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Solutions for our Future is an effort to raise awareness that higher education is one of America's greatest resources

Toolkit: Op-Eds

Our Future Depends on Education
Gretchen Bataille
President, University of North Texas
Denton Record-Chronicle
October 3, 2022

Corporate leaders tell us that 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs in our country require some college education, yet in Texas, only 13 of 100 ninth-graders will receive a college degree six years after high school.

And the United States is behind seven countries in the percentage of young adults aged 25-34 who have earned a college degree.

These realities are unacceptable, and they indicate that our future, our economies and our nation must seek to improve its education.

Indeed, the future of America depends upon education. A democracy requires the involvement of informed citizens to maintain a healthy and free nation.

If we are to meet the challenges of the modern global world, Amer�icans must be bet�ter educated than ever before.

It is the responsibility of public universities to respond to the educational needs of our communities, our state and our nation � in every way we can.

Public universities are the guardians and providers of accessible and affordable higher education and are thus the guarantors of a community�s and our nation�s prosperous fu�ture.

We must do more to reach out and ensure that everyone who wants a higher education has the opportunity to earn one.
UNT, like Texas� other universities, is working to find innovative ways to meet these needs.

I look forward to the meeting UNT is sponsoring today with the Council of Public Uni�versity Presidents and Chancellors in support of the American Council on Education�s Solutions initiative.

This program will bring together the communications experts from each of Texas� public universities and health science centers to collaborate about ways to further our collective impact and show the role of universities in changing the world.

At UNT we are doing our part to contribute to that change. I am excited about the opportunities for success that our new Emerald Eagles Scholars program is giving to academically talented undergraduates who have high financial need.

The program, which embraces the principles of hard work, creativity and excellence, is more comprehensive than other need-based programs in Texas, and is one of only about 30 such programs across the nation.

The nearly 400 freshmen who joined us this fall as Emerald Eagle Scholars are assured of four years of tuition and fees if they maintain a 2.5 GPA and complete 30 semester hours each year, which means they�ll be on track for graduation in four years.

But because earning a bachelor�s degree takes a lot more than just being able to afford the cost, UNT immerses its Emerald Eagle Scholars in the richness of university life.

We connect these students to the university through on-campus work, campus events, mentoring and other support programs. When they graduate, these students will be fully equipped with the critical-thinking, problem-solving and idea-generating skills the modern world demands.

In addition to serving our students, we recognize the importance of preparing all youth for higher education. UNT earned more than $400,000 in grants this past year to support outreach efforts that are dedicated to preparing the next generation of students for college success.

As a result of one of these developmental education programs, 13 students enrolled this fall in university classes who otherwise would not have been accepted and able to start college.

Our intervention changed the lives of these students and, in turn, will make a difference in Texas and the world.

UNT will continue to initiate creative educational programs and we will work with our partners in K-12 and community colleges to change the education landscape in Texas. I encourage business, industry, government and the general public to make a commitment to support education and our collective mission of building a better America. We can do no less if we are to fulfill our obligation to the future.

GRETCHEN M. BATAILLE is president of the University of North Texas.

Reprinted with permission from

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