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Universities Inc.

UNTPIC

In August, opening a University of North Texas teaching location in Frisco was an idea.

We looked at Collin County, with its thriving population, its diverse industry, and its strong concentration of corporate headquarters, and thought, “There is a need and an opportunity.”

And then we thought, “How fast can we do it?”

That’s not a question we ask ourselves a lot in academia.

It took less than six months for the University of North Texas New College at Frisco, an off-site instructional facility, to become a reality. Earlier this month, the New College at Frisco launched with classes that are the seeds of a new academic paradigm. We’re taking what we do best—education—and adding a big dose of industry engagement to serve working professionals and students and to foster the most competitive workforce. And we’ve been moving at the speed of business to do so.

UNT’s New College at Frisco is a prime example of how universities must think like a business to adapt and grow. Operating like a business—planning with an eye on the bottom line, understanding market forces, acting with purpose and accountability, and taking risks–leads to real change.

UNT’s New College at Frisco is a prime example of how universities must think like a business to adapt and grow. Operating like a business—planning with an eye on the bottom line, understanding market forces, acting with purpose and accountability, and taking risks–leads to real change.

This kind of focus can transform an organization. Using sound business strategies, we’ve managed in the past year to reach our highest enrollment ever—with a nearly 3 percent jump in one year and a record number of National Merit finalists. We’ve also set the wheels in motion to expand our reach throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In addition to the New College at Frisco, UNT plans to offer classes in the heart of the Design District in Dallas to support the area’s burgeoning design scene and an executive M.B.A. program with a logistics and supply chain management focus at AllianceTexas, a vast business park between Denton and Fort Worth. By expanding our presence throughout the North Texas region, UNT is going where the jobs and needs are, and making sure we’re the university for all of North Texas.

For UNT’s New College at Frisco, we started planning and development with two key questions in mind: what is the market and what does the market need?

We saw that Frisco and Collin County have excellent job growth in sectors such as:

  • Business and financial services
  • Information technology and telecommunications
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, and hospitality
  • Sports media and management
  • Defense and security

 

So starting in fall 2016, UNT’s New College at Frisco will offer classes and programs that dovetail with these growth sectors.

We also considered Collin County’s population, which is full of college-bound students, professionals, business owners, and executives. Each group has different needs, but as a comprehensive university, UNT can provide a diverse mix of degrees, classes, and career-development courses. So if you’re a business owner who needs a crash course in social media strategy, a mid-level professional looking to stand out with an M.B.A., or a college student eager to pursue a hot new career like cybersecurity or gaming, you’ll find what you’re looking for at UNT’s New College at Frisco.

Our market analysis gave us the confidence to offer a different kind of UNT educational experience instead of creating a mini-version of our main campus in Denton. But the New College at Frisco is built from the same high-quality academic mold as UNT and delivers the same excellent education.

Through initiatives like UNT’s New College at Frisco, we’re redefining the education landscape to deliver the workforce of tomorrow.

At UNT’s New College at Frisco, we’re creating a model that will integrate technology, communication, and industry experience into every class and program because these are vital for any career. We’re designing classes and programs with a lot of industry input so that students get hands-on experience and industry gets a strong workforce. And because we are academics, we have a think tank—functioning like a focus group—to guide the New College’s vision and development.

We’ve learned that adding a strong business sensibility to our educational mission can help UNT go further, faster. We’re meeting the market where it’s at to keep pace with changing needs and times. Through initiatives like UNT’s New College at Frisco, we’re redefining the education landscape to deliver the workforce of tomorrow.

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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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