On Friday, for the second time in its 14-year history, the University of North Texas at Dallas inaugurated a president. Dignitaries welcomed Ronald Brown on the south Dallas campus.
The day was filled with university rituals: music and officials wearing caps and gowns. New UNT-Dallas President Ronald Brown said he intended to keep the campus growing to meet the needs of the community, students and businesses.
“We are about access to excellence,” Brown said, “and excellence that’s within reach with a tuition rate more favorable than any comparable university within our city.”
Brown’s message to help kids succeed rang true to students in the audience like Robert Washington.
“I’m a junior, about to be a senior,” Washington said. “My major is sociology with a minor in psychology. I heard they were opening up this campus when I was graduating, I graduated from DeSoto High School in 2009 and so it was new. I got accepted at UNT Denton but decided to take a chance here.”
State Sen. Royce West was among local politicians who fought for this school, which opened in 2000, in temporary quarters. He says the word has spread.
“I was addressing some high school students, about 300, from Collin County, from Mesquite, from Dallas,” West explained, “from different school districts, and I asked them this morning: 'Have you ever heard of UNT-Dallas?' About 80 percent raised their hands. Had I asked them that 10 years ago, they would not have.”
The school opened with about 100 students 14 years ago. Now, it educates a little more than 2,000. Lucious Williams says this growing campus and its new president mean a lot for South Dallas and businesses like his engineering and architecture firm.
"High technology is the direction that we are going and the universities seem to be offering that,” Williams said.
Brown says give him time. He wants to launch a school for pharmacy, nursing and sports management down the road.