Four Questions for Gretchen Bataille, president of the University of North Texas
Gretchen Bataille beats the drum for the University of North Texas.
Gretchen Bataille became the 14th president of the University of North Texas—and the first woman in the school’s history to hold the position of CEO—in 2006, succeeding Norval Pohl. Here are excerpts from a recent interview with her.
1. We understand you’ve been trying to raise UNT’s profile. How?
When I first came here I found out that we really have a huge reach, but we weren’t taking advantage of it. So I’ve been trying to get the word out about who we are on several fronts. We had a number of alumni receptions the first two years in cities where we had large concentrations of alums. We have done a lot more advertising. I also think it’s important that I get out there, so any opportunity I have, if I’m invited to speak, I go.
2. Does being a woman affect the way you approach your job?
I feel that whatever skills are necessary in leadership, they come in both genders. I’ve been around enough to know if people are going to treat the “little lady” differently or talk down to me, and I haven’t sensed that at all. I could make all sorts of assumptions, such as that women have a softer leadership style, but I don’t know that that’s true, because I’m not all that soft!
3. You’ve been very successful increasing the school’s endowment and in other fund-raising efforts. What’s your secret?
The strategy really has been to take advantage of every opportunity, and also to hire the right people and build the staff. Greg McQueen, who is senior vice president for advancement, has hired a number of new staff who understand the nuances of fundraising. I’ve hired a new vice president for research and economic development, and we’ve hired a director for Discovery Park, our research park. We’ve also totally reorganized the office of research, and we’ve been more successful at research funding. When you get the right people on these jobs, success follows.
4. What can the business community do for UNT?
We need the support of our business partners, particularly as we go into this legislative session. California’s just in a mess [economically]. Florida and New York—a lot of states that we compete with for high-quality faculty, high-quality graduate and undergraduate students, and federal research dollars—are in trouble now, too. So this is a great opportunity for the Texas Legislature to support higher education and give us that edge we need—whether it’s funding to hire faculty that will bring in the federal grants, or funding that will enable us to seriously close the gaps in Texas education.