From several vantage points of UNT's four-story Frisco Landing building, students have an eagle-eye view of the surrounding Dallas-Fort Worth area. They also have access to state-of-the-art classrooms and study spaces where they can create the vision for their future -- many working directly with industry partners who are collaborating at the campus.
The 135,000-square-foot building on the UNT at Frisco branch campus, which had its ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 12, provides the cutting-edge facilities and tools students need as they start classes and prepare for their careers. The ribbon cutting also marks a partnership between UNT and City of Frisco, which worked together to provide the first four-year institution for the booming population in Collin County.
"Like the City of Frisco, we at the University of North Texas like to dream big," UNT President Neal Smatresk said at the ceremony, speaking to a crowd of local and state officials, industry leaders and community partners. "We are on this beautiful plot of land on one of the most exciting corners of the city, a corner of the city that will be bursting with economic development -- with entertainment, recreational opportunities. This campus is ready to feed employers and support the industry and economic development of this region. … Today is a celebration of partnerships, collaboration and the incredible things that are going to happen as we open our doors here. We're going to change lives, and we need to keep Frisco the hottest economy in Texas and beyond.
"Take a look at this incredible facility and imagine what is going to be done here, imagine the things we can do."
In 2016, UNT began offering classes in Frisco at locations including Hall Park and Inspire Park. The City of Frisco provided 100 acres for the branch campus, which sits at the southwest corner of Preston Road and Panther Creek Parkway, at no cost.
Frisco Landing is the first permanent building on the branch campus and offers many of the 27 undergraduate and master's level programs taught in Frisco, and students can participate in partnerships with the Dallas Cowboys, PGA, TIAA and other corporations.
Another of those corporations is Baylor Scott & White, which is working to serve the community in a greater capacity while searching for employees, said Ryan Gebhart, senior vice president.
"Partnering with UNT allows us to creatively work together to create that workforce, to better serve the communities," he said. "That's what I'm most excited about, but when you look at UNT at Frisco, it's going to impact the community in so many different ways."
UNT continually creates new programs and designs specialized curriculum to help students be successful with in-demand careers, and the UNT at Frisco location and partnerships allow for incredible opportunities. For example, UNT at Frisco already hosts classes with partners like the Dallas Cowboys and the PGA.
Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney noted that UNT at Frisco is an "incredible economic tool for the city."
"We knew if we wanted to achieve the kind of success that we wanted to achieve as a community, to be able to attract Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies, to be able to have venture capitalists and startups happening here, we had to have a relationship such as UNT -- a Tier One, best in class-type of institution," said Cheney, noting that UNT leaders collaborate with corporate leaders to develop specialized curriculum for employees and for students. "With relationships such as UNT at Frisco, we landed our first Fortune 500 company and followed up with our first Fortune 100 company.
"And we are just getting started."
Janie Havel, community relations specialist for economic development and tourism with the Office of Governor Greg Abbott, said, "Education is such a vital part of Governor Abbott's administration, especially increasing access to education. Having the new UNT at Frisco campus is going to make education available to more Texans."
UNT System Chancellor Michael Williams pointed to the spirit of innovation and collaboration that is deeply ingrained in the Frisco culture as a premier business center.
"UNT System is planting a flag in Frisco," he said. "A flag that makes a promise to deliver an excellent education that is accessible, affordable and transformative as we work with our supporting corporate and community partners to develop a workforce that is prepared to go to work in this new economy."
The campus features space that focuses on collaboration, transparency and open communication. It includes 69 "huddle rooms" that allow for small to medium-sized groups to collaborate, as well as interactive classrooms, a makerspace filled with the latest technology, a library, fitness center and café. It even boasts an event space that can host up 300 people with seating and standing room.
"Soaring," a suspended sculpture, in a first-of-its-kind collaboration, was designed by College of Visual Arts and Design student Archit Karkare, and pays homage to the Indigenous Peoples upon whose land UNT at Frisco resides. There is also an amphitheater and a tower that will be lit green for Mean Green athletic victories and wins of other types for UNT at Frisco's branch campus.
Frisco Landing and the area surrounding it provides a space for students to learn and be creative.
"This space is much more than just a building, it is a symbol -- a symbol of how we want to serve our students by meeting them where they are, by using innovative concepts for project-based learning, corporate involvement and engagement with industry leaders, and by providing the kind of access that these students have only dreamed of having before," said UNT System Board of Regents Chair Laura Wright, who also is an alumna of UNT. "As we open this building, we also open the futures of all of the students who will be passing through these halls."