By Randena Hulstrand
University leaders have been methodical in efforts to incorporate history while developing a new round of state-of-the-art learning facilities that meet the needs of modern students.
In all, the 119-year-old campus now has 165 buildings of traditional, post-traditional and contemporary design. These include 14 residence halls, the Mean Green Village with its Athletic Center and surrounding athletic fields, and a nearly 290-acre Discovery Park research facility. The next facilities slated to open are the Life Sciences Building, the Business Leadership Building and the Mean Green’s future football stadium.
“UNT is an economic engine for the city,” says Linda Ratliff (’96), director of economic development for the city of Denton. “The university impacts Denton with the number of students, faculty and staff who spend money here. It’s the largest employer in the city. And it draws community members from the region to attend cultural and athletic events.”
Discovery Park is UNT's nearly 290-acre research facility, home to the College of Engineering and the College of Information.
UNT’s continued commitment to cutting-edge research begins with space, which faculty researchers say is synonymous with creating opportunities. In 2003, UNT purchased a former Texas Instruments facility to create Discovery Park, now home to the College of Engineering and College of Information. The 500,000-square-foot facility is developing as a business incubator and research park, with a new clean room and a unique combination of high-powered microscopes that give faculty members the ability to conduct research leading to the creation of stronger materials and smaller devices.
“We have talented faculty members and students partnering with industry leaders in many research arenas,” says Vish Prasad, vice president for research and economic development. “UNT is poised to take the lead in technology transfer, commercialization and incubation, which will give Discovery Park national and international visibility.”
“Future plans for Discovery Park will set Denton apart, because while some cities have a university, not many have research parks,” she says. “The city will be known as a leader in research and development.”
In addition to new academic and research facilities, the university has added buildings that house services catering to student needs. In the past 15 years, UNT opened Chestnut Hall, the Eagle Student Services Center and the Pohl Recreation Center, as well as six new residence halls that paved the way for the creation of Sorority Row— seven connected houses, including two added this fall. UNT has 14 fraternity and sorority houses with about 350 residents. And across campus, more than 5,500 students live in the various residence halls.
UNT’s newest construction projects are preserving the traditional campus experience while turning a page in the university’s history with sustainable building.
Last year, UNT became the first large public university in Texas to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, promising to achieve at least LEED Silver certification on all new buildings.
“We have to strike a balance with what we’re trying to accomplish with new builds and existing buildings,” says Todd Spinks(’04, ’06 M.A., ’09 Ph.D.), director of UNT’s Office of Sustainability. “‘We Mean Green’ is more than a slogan here. We want to create a sustainable university for generations to come.”