By Bob Mong - published in Dallas Morning News Aug 11, 2023
As public perception of higher education slips because of high tuition and soaring student debt, The University of North Texas at Dallas has distinguished itself for its ability to provide a quality education while keeping tuition and student debt at modest levels. Now, North Texas’ newest four-year university is being recognized for its progress. We’re using a pattern other schools can follow.
Money magazine recently published its “Best Colleges in America” report, and UNT Dallas fared exceptionally well. On a 1-5 rating, with 5 being the best, UNT Dallas received a 4.5. That’s the highest rating in North Texas and the second highest statewide.
Here’s how we did it.
First, we’re growing numerically. In less than two weeks, UNT Dallas will be welcoming a record number of students who just graduated from high school. They will be joined by an increased number of transfer students and newly enrolled graduate students on our southern Dallas campus.
The UNT Dallas College of Law also recorded the highest number of applicants in its nine-year history and is enrolling a strong class for its day and evening programs.
I’m also pleased with our record number of graduates during the 2022-23 academic year, with most of them remaining in Dallas-Fort Worth for their careers and continuing education.
These rising numbers reflect our robust community outreach, along with UNT Dallas’ growing reputation.
We’re working to achieve that growth without adding to the burden of student expense and debt. Money noted our exceptional value, with average annual costs below $10,000 for in-state students, and with the option of a fixed tuition plan that allows incoming students to lock in their expenses for five years. UNT Dallas is delivering on our goal to keep expenses low so that our graduates leave with a good job and as little debt as possible.
We appreciate that Money’s analysis recognized the enormous strides UNT Dallas is making to foster upward economic mobility for our students.
We’re partnering with other institutions to create programs that match today’s job market. Among our newest academic offerings are an Aspiring STEM Principal Program to prepare local teachers for leadership positions, a new joint MBA program with the University of Southern Mississippi specializing in economic development, and a commercial banking certificate in partnership with Texas Capital Bank. All are designed to prepare students for high-demand careers in the thriving North Texas economy.
The rating also cited our investment in campus facilities, such as the student center and residence hall. The latest addition will be a new $100 million STEM building, for which we will break ground this fall.
And Money recognized the extraordinary diversity of UNT Dallas, where about half of the undergraduates are Hispanic, and nearly 30% are Black. Many of these students benefit from the esteemed Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program, offering paid summer internships at leading Dallas businesses and organizations, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Money’s report evaluated 28 Texas colleges and universities among hundreds across the country, based on three categories: quality of education, affordability and student outcomes. They studied data such as acceptance rates, graduation rates, cost of attendance, financial aid, student debt and alumni salaries.
UNT Dallas’ success confirms our formula of empowering students, transforming lives and strengthening communities. With outstanding academic programs, including 36 bachelor’s and nine master’s degrees, and a Juris Doctor degree at the College of Law, UNT Dallas offers an important combination of academic rigor, affordability and student success in North Texas.
It’s not an easy time to be in higher education. Costs are rising and potential students are questioning the value of a college degree. UNT Dallas is proud to be among the best in the nation at meeting those challenges. This is how to ensure that a college education stays an essential part of the American workforce.
Bob Mong is the president of the University of North Texas at Dallas. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.