New College at Frisco

UNT’s expanding presence in Frisco provides new, innovative opportunities for faculty and students

To create problem-based learning that builds critical thinking and provides students with opportunities to work on projects alongside industry partners combined with convenient, innovative curriculum is the goal of UNT’s New College at Frisco.

UNT’s expansion into Frisco, aka Sports City, USA, and the nation’s second fastest-growing city, is expected to provide opportunities for students and faculty.

Over the last two years we have hosted conversations that are shaping what UNT Frisco will become. In March, Provost Cowley and Dean Randall hosted a visioning workshop with faculty, staff, and administrators who have been actively engaged at UNT Frisco. This group came together to imagine the next steps for the future and how we can build on our current strengths. The group sees UNT Frisco as a key partner in transforming Collin County through new opportunities and new ways of partnering. From that, we imagine we will co-create new research, new career paths, new business opportunities, and new social enterprises that lead to economic prosperity for not just our students, but for the entire region. The group imagines UNT Frisco can become a North Texas cultural and innovation destination that could be recognized as the emerald gem of Collin County. “The University of North Texas has long been focused on partnerships and inspiring students to make meaningful impacts in their communities,” Randall said. “This next step in Frisco will allow us to take what we have learned in Denton over the last 125 years and focus deeply on innovative engagement strategies between students and our partners, where students discover who they will become. We imagine people will be drawn to UNT’s New College at Frisco as a creative, dynamic, and adaptive place, uniquely taking on the challenges facing Collin County and beyond. ”

In April, more than 130 faculty and staff met with President Neal Smatresk and Provost Jennifer Cowley to brainstorm the components of a 21st century student learning experience and to identify ways partnerships with corporations can strengthen their business and UNT while promoting real-world, hands-on student learning.

In the video: In April, President Smatresk and Provost Cowley hosted a town hall meeting to discuss the opportunities for partnerships to advance the student experience.

“While we’ve been busy offering classes to students in Frisco, we’ve also been planning what comes next,” Cowley said. “UNT was founded on partnerships way back in 1890. A number of business leaders came together and Chilton said ‘Let’s get started. Let’s open over the hardware store. Let’s get going and make something happen.’ In much the same way, we have taken that kind of can-do spirit to Frisco and said ‘Let’s open up in an office park.’ What we are doing today in Frisco is a lot like being on the Denton town square all those years ago.”

“Within reach” and “Partnership-Based Education” are two of the UNT’s New College at Frisco’s complementary mottos as we provide unique opportunities to reimagine academic programs and build partnerships with business and industry. Working in tandem with leading companies, UNT is developing cutting-edge degree programs to fill high-demand industry needs, removing barriers and creating pathways to degree completion, all the while providing students with opportunities to learn from the North Texas region’s best and brightest. Ultimately our goal is to see partnership embedded in all our student experiences. From an industry and community perspective, we want to be ready to allow our community partners to engage in undergraduate and graduate experiences that support development of new innovation and that lead to better curriculum as well as enhanced economic development. “Our Frisco branch campus will be a key engine in Frisco economic and community health,” said Dean Randall.


A group of 70 gathered at UNT Frisco to participate in a workshop to imagine what can come next.
A group of 70 gathered at UNT Frisco over spring break to participate in a visioning workshop to imagine what can come next.

Meeting attendees called for all academic programs to include expert-led mentoring, design thinking, problem-based learning, and internships. When organizations encounter a problem, UNT’s experts and student researchers want to be part of the team that identifies solutions and new opportunities.

“We do great work at UNT and fulfill our mission of making our students’ lives better and preparing them for careers in the rapidly-evolving economy,” President Smatresk said. “We see that the world is changing and recognize that business as usual may not be what we need anymore. We’re committed to becoming leaders in a movement of education innovation.”

Recognizing that students, as well as employers, are seeking program-specific degrees, UNT is building new degrees to fulfill industry demand. This fall, the New College at Frisco will offer the nation’s first bachelor’s degree in consumer experience management, the first of many new degree programs being planned.

“We’re listening to what employers need and what students want, and are creating degree programs that include all the requested components — design thinking, financial acumen, and ability lead teams. We often talk about students’ ability to make critical decisions as key. Our goal is to take that a step further and teach students not only to make smart critical decision for themselves but to design systems that help others make smart critical decisions,” said Wesley Randall, dean of New College at Frisco.

“We know the key for this transformation is to make sure we understand clearly how the Frisco branch campus fits into the story of UNT. To do that we are going to focus deeply on crucial parts of that UNT DNA, in terms of partnerships and student engagement, in ways that allow us to clearly understand what is UNT, and how what we are doing at Frisco is complementary to who we are,” said Jennifer Cowley, UNT Provost.

The New College at Frisco is also establishing systems to fulfill professional development requests for certificate programs and trainings, bachelor’s degree completion for industry partners, professional education, and advanced degrees including M.B.A.s and executive terminal degrees.

Smatresk has called on faculty to begin developing curriculum that directly embraces the components of a 21st century education that were discussed during the meeting.

“I know we’ll create something extraordinary and different, that preserves our deep values, but presents them in ways that really push our students forward, supports the region, and ensures that employers of the region come to us before they go anywhere else,” President Smatresk said.

How to Become Involved

If you are interested in becoming involved in what comes next for UNT Frisco, there are a number of opportunities.

Join the curriculum shaping working group. The next meeting is on May 10 at 3PM in the complex logistics system laboratory—first floor of the Business Leadership Building (BLB) Room 150, up the steps and to the right when entering from the highland street garage. For information contact Peggy Shadduck at

We would love to have your ideas, your lessons learned, and your best practices as we prepare students to find their inspiration. Please send your ideas, any articles you stumble across that you think relevant, or any emerging research to


2010 – UNT begins offering classes at the Collin Higher Education Center
2016 – UNT begins offerings degrees at the Collin Higher Education Center
2016 – UNT opened its doors at Hall Park in January
2018 – UNT Announced plans for the new regional site in May.
Planned 2019 – Expand into UNT’s Inspire Park Frisco
Planned 2022 – Begin Construction on UNT’s Frisco Branch Campus