The University of North Texas at Dallas (UNT Dallas) appointed Macario Hernandez to the new cabinet position of chief of staff back in late July, and the Oak Cliff native already has plans on how to use the local university to reinvest in his old neighborhood.
“[UNT Dallas] is what I would consider a community-centered university, so that’s crucial in our approach in bridging the gap to our neighboring cities. We want to bridge this university to tap into our community, specifically here in Oak Cliff,” said Hernandez, speaking with Dallas Business Journal.
Hernandez joined the university’s administration after a two-decade career as a bilingual teacher and public school administrator in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In his interview with Dallas Business Journal, he elaborated on his philosophy about how institutions like UNT Dallas can have a significant ripple effect throughout nearby communities.
“We don’t see ourselves as an island separated from everybody else. We see ourselves as a community-centered hub [looking] to expand the economic development of our community,” said Hernandez.
As reported by The Dallas Express, builders and contractors have voiced frustrations with Dallas’ difficult building permitting process over the past two years, claiming that it hinders such development.
“We’re building relationships with developers nearby, who have, in my opinion, really transformed the landscape near the university. Those are just preliminary conversations, but they’re getting very serious,” he stated.
Hernandez will have the opportunity to foster such relationships in his new role as chief of staff. The position was envisioned to provide critical support for the university president in developing legislative initiatives and direct connections with local communities and nearby school districts.
“One of my goals is strengthening and sustaining partnerships with school districts, community-based organizations and nonprofits [as well as] with Dallas and other cities,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to sustain the relationships we have but also tap into all these resources we’re all working on, so we can work in alignment with everyone’s goals.”
As ambitious as his goals may be, there is something humbling about the opportunity to serve your old community.
“I believe in growing your own,” Hernandez said. “I’m an example of it. I think you can make it if you also stay in your neighborhood, reinvest in it and pour back into the very community that shaped you.”