UNT to open Frisco campus
The University of North Texas is deepening its roots in Frisco with a brand new campus that aims to increase opportunities for area students and attract more companies to the city.
The university “is going to be dynamite for this city,” UNT President Neal Smatresk said.
Frisco Landing, UNT’s first permanent building for its branch campus in Collin County, is expected to open in January as the spring semester starts. Since 2016, the university previously held classes in rented spaces throughout the city.
Local leaders have struggled meeting expectations for economic development, Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney said.
“The big box and we could never fully check was, ‘How are you going to train our workforce?’” he said.
Cheney said the new 135,000-square-foot campus will help foster and drive the “tremendous economic impact” the city needs. About 2,500 students will attend the campus next year.
“It’s going to make our business recruitment easier … when we can go to the CEOs and the decision makers and say, ‘We can deliver your workforce for your business as you grow,” Cheney said. “We can actually design that curriculum specific to your needs.”
Some of the programs that the campus will house include data analytics, project design and analysis and sports and entertainment management. UNT officials are considering moving its entire hospitality program to the location as well.
The new campus sits on 100 acres of land donated by Frisco officials at no cost to jumpstart the partnership. Smatresk recognized during a tour on Tuesday that the new building resides on Indigenous Peoples land — including the Wichita and affiliated tribes and the Caddo Nation.
Other groups have also used the land, such as the Cherokee and Comanche.
In 2015, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education first designated UNT as a “Very High Research Activity” university, or R1 — a highly coveted and elusive designation.
The university ranked in the list in 2018 and again in 2022, along with about 140 other institutions across the country.
In 2020, the U.S. Department of Education also designated UNT as a minority and Hispanic serving institution.
Jason Ford, Frisco Economic Development Corporation’s president, said having a top-tier research university in the community will serve as a magnet to attract talent, companies and jobs.
“Frisco needs the energy of a campus and it needs the ability to attract really well trained students and diverse students,” Smatresk said.
Classrooms, student services and faculty and staff offices are scattered throughout the campus’ four floors in order to promote collaboration and open communication.
Jeannine Vail, UNT’s senior project architect who also teaches interior design, said designers thoughtfully chose natural elements, such as stone and light wood, throughout the building, along with the institution’s trademark green accents, to promote a sense of openness.
The campus’ first building also boasts floor to ceiling storefront windows, 69 huddle spaces, about 840 parking spaces and a balcony that lines the west side of the building, overlooking an amphitheater and lawn.
About $100 million has been invested into the facility, according to Smatresk. Construction began in the fall of 2020.
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