:: Voices ::

A New Kind of Education

When I meet industry leaders, the conversation usually turns to what kinds of skills they need in college graduates. As a university president, I want to make sure we’re preparing our graduates to be workforce ready from day one.

No matter what the industry is, corporate leaders want graduates who not only know how to do their job, but who are up to speed on the latest technologies and can communicate well.

At the University of North Texas, we’ve long been focused on making sure our graduates are business savvy, people savvy, and tech savvy—in addition to giving them deep knowledge of their field. We prepare our graduates to be leaders, problem-solvers, and risk-takers in the workplace and in life.

No matter what the industry is, corporate leaders want graduates who not only know how to do their job, but who are up to speed on the latest technologies and can communicate well.

We saw an opportunity to take that a step further by creating a location catering to working professionals and students in the heart of one of the fastest-growing, industry-rich areas in the nation—Collin County. The University of North Texas New College at Frisco is—as our tagline states—a new way of thinking, a new way of doing business, and a new kind of education.

How so?

The classes and programs at UNT’s New College at Frisco, which opens January 19, will represent a mix of disciplines, combined in innovative ways that are built to suit the corporate world. Driven by a goal to help working professionals and students gain both book smarts and on-the-job smarts, the New College will be a collaborative laboratory that meshes traditional learning and hands-on experience in dynamic ways.

UNT’s New College will be about “learning beyond the walls,” moving education beyond the confines of a specific academic discipline and out of the classroom as much as possible. The curriculum will integrate technology, communication, and industry engagement so participants get practical experience. Students will have the chance to learn from industry insiders through internships and classroom exposure. The ultimate goal of any course at the New College is to give students and working professionals the knowledge and core skills they need for success.

Driven by a goal to help working professionals and students gain both book smarts and on-the-job smarts, the New College will be a collaborative laboratory that meshes traditional learning and hands-on experience in dynamic ways.

Because of its proximity to some of the world’s top companies, such as Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Frito-Lay, and the soon-to-be relocated headquarters for Toyota’s U.S. operations, the New College will focus on industry collaboration, partnerships, and engagement. We’ll work with companies to bring their leaders into the classroom and to offer programming that fits their workforce needs. We’ll offer professional-development courses, such as social media strategy seminars and a big data analytics boot camp, to give participants a competitive edge in their careers. We also may have executives in residence and industry professionals who help teach and shape courses and programs.

Eventually, the New College will have interdisciplinary programs in areas such as big data analytics, cybersecurity, gaming, and sports media and management to reflect growth industries.

As UNT’s New College grows, so will the opportunities for students. In 10 years, we envision the New College serving as many as 5,000 to 10,000 students. We’re dreaming big.

We’re building something different at UNT’s New College, based on the excellent education we provide in all of our programs. We’re taking our creative core and adding a technology backbone to help students and working professionals become superior competitors. In doing so, we’re narrowing the gap between higher education and the high-tech and corporate worlds.

We’re dreaming big.

By collaborating with industry at UNT’s New College at Frisco, we’ll create workforce leaders and help fuel the engine of progress in this rapidly growing area.


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Neal Smatresk is the president of the University of North Texas, one of the nation’s largest universities.

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