For Clinton Purtell, UNT’s introduction to Frisco added an academic element that had previously been absent from the city.
The clinical assistant professor at UNT Frisco and longtime Frisco resident now works to support the strategic growth of the local UNT branch. For Purtell, when Frisco established its partnership with the school, the city’s personality began to change.
“Now, as fast as UNT is growing in Frisco, I think we’re going to continue to see Frisco become a hub for innovation,” he added. “Not only in industry, but really more so in academia.”
The school, currently occupying multiple sites in the city, is looking ahead to building its branch campus in Frisco.
“It’ll be a space that is geared towards industry partnership,” Purtell said. “It will have lots and lots of maker space for not only students but for industry to come in, either work with other industry partners and/or collaborate with students.”
Purtell said groundbreaking for the UNT Frisco branch campus had been pushed to the upcoming year. The groundbreaking had been previously slated for fall 2020. Purtell said he felt having the new campus would be the school’s first big milestone.
“But in the meantime, there’s lots of smaller critical path stuff that we can get done around building the external partnerships,” he said. “I think once we have the new campus, we’ll be at a celebratory moment where we now have enabled all the things we’ve put in motion in three years prior.”
The current focus, Purtell said, is to acquire new students, build partnerships with industry members and establish programs.
“That’s the focus over the next three years so that we’re already running when we have the new facility,” he said.
For UNT Frisco, non-traditional students are a significant part of the population, Purtell said. That includes full-time working students, adults who are returning to higher education and junior college graduates, he said.
“A number of my students that are first-generation, low-income, they found a way to get here,” Purtell said “They found a way to pay for it on their own, they’re working full time or whatever. Especially those at UNT Frisco. But they have a similar mission to all other graduates across the country in that they want to get a degree and get a job.”
Students who come to the university will encounter educational pathways that involve solving real-world problems and learning at the same time.
“UNT Frisco is kind of a pioneering trailblazing project for UNT Denton to work to establish new programs that get our students jobs,” he said.
The school is doing that by implementing degree programs that involve “cohorts,” or teams of students that work to solve problems for industry partners. As students approach solving the problems proposed to them, they learn elements of curriculum, Purtell said. As a result, the programs teach students about other aspects of work including how to interact as a team and as a leader, he said.
As UNT Frisco looks toward the future, Purtell said it looks forward to having an impact on Frisco and on the North Texas region.
“There’s high hopes of what we can do, and we have internally built great expectations for ourselves that we can lead those expectations, that we can drive such a new innovative inspirational force that companies, the first thing they think of is Frisco,” Purtell said.