UT Dallas' updated campus master plan addresses unprecedented enrollment growth in recent years

A rendering shows what a potential npedestrian thoroughfare through UT Dallas' athletics district could look like in the future. As of now all plans are conceptual, officials said.

A rendering shows what a potential npedestrian thoroughfare through UT Dallas' athletics district could look like in the future. As of now all plans are conceptual, officials said.

Record-high enrollment growth at The University of Texas at Dallas is behind the latest update to its campus master plan released in late February.

Over the past decade, the number of students attending UT Dallas has doubled to 28,000. Another 7,000 are expected to enroll by 2029, according to Rick Dempsey, former associate vice president for facilities management. Dempsey retired in February after leading the campus master plan rewrite, which took about a year.

The document provides a road map for how to address this growth via changes to facilities and infrastructure, Dempsey said. A complete overhaul of the plan has not happened since 2003, save for a few targeted updates throughout the years.

“These types of assessments allow you to step back and say, ‘How can we upgrade the overall efficiency of how we are operating?’” he said. “It becomes a way to look at where we are now and where we want to go.”

At the heart of the update is the desire to urbanize rather than spread out, Dempsey said. The document designates districts that, while not ironclad, provide guidance for where new buildings should be constructed—academic buildings at the campus core, housing to the west, research facilities to the north, and athletics and recreation to the south.

For the most part, academic facilities are already grouped together, but a few portable buildings put some distance between classrooms, Dempsey said. By centralizing academics, students will be able to easily walk from one building to another.

Growing pains are most evident in laboratories, where the university has resorted to scheduling some classes on Saturdays to maintain a reasonable student-teacher ratio. As a result, the plan also recommends going vertical by replacing older one-story buildings with more space-efficient alternatives.

“We are at a point that any major building … is going to have to be three stories,” he said.

Most of UT Dallas' focus in recent years has been on research and academics, Dempsey said. But the campus master plan puts an added emphasis on the “softer side” of university life, he said, with guidelines for expanding and amenitizing arts and athletics facilities.

As UT Dallas shifts from a majority-commuter campus to traditional university, the need for more spaces to gather has become evident, Dempsey said. The plan addresses this shortfall by creating two quads and several dedicated green space areas that integrate two creeks already present on campus.

Dempsey said the plan is intentionally flexible in light of some of the uncertainties surrounding the remaining swaths of undeveloped land on campus, particularly the area just north of Dallas Area Rapid Transit's future Cotton Belt rail station.

The area south of the station is now home to Northside, a mixed-use development that includes retail and housing. Dempsey said options for the north include private development, a research park, an event center or entertainment-related venues.

“We see opportunities up there, but we aren’t exactly sure what is the best opportunity,” he said. “Frankly, what we are trying to do is prevent making anything happen that would restrict us as we go forward."

Looking forward, Dempsey said there is no set timeline for any of the improvements laid out in the plan. However, what happens during the legislative session regarding higher education funding could have a major impact on how the university proceeds.

In the latest state budget, general revenue funding for UT Dallas was cut by $310,000 and core research funding by $2.3 million. The state also owes UT Dallas $46 million in backlogged funds from the Texas Research Incentive Program, which matches private donations for research activities.

A number of entities, including UT Dallas, the city of Richardson and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, have urged state legislators to issue tuition revenue bonds to help pay for construction of new buildings and renovations at the university.

“We certainly need resources to continue; we are tapped out from a facilities standpoint,” Dempsey said.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer

Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


Three candidates have filed for a place on the May 2 ballot. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Three candidates will appear on the May ballot for the Richardson ISD board of trustees

A last-minute filing means one of two races will be contested.

Create a piece of art for your home at a brush-lettered wooden sign workshop at Coolgreens in CityLine. (Courtesy CityLine)
8 Richardson events to attend in February and March

Craft workshops, a vinyl record show and an exotic animals exhibit are happening in the coming weeks.

Crews are working to create a new median on the President George Bush Turnpike. (Courtesy North Texas Tollway Authority)
4 transportation updates to know in Richardson and beyond

Construction on the $2 million Campbell Road widening project begins in April.

Most recent market data shows sales price drop in two Richardson ZIP codes

Conversely, the 75081 ZIP code saw a sales price increase.

The board approved a construction manager for the Gulledge Elementary project in September. Since then, the guaranteed maximum price for the expansion has been reviewed, clarified and evaluated. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Price goes up, but Gulledge Elementary expansion project remains on schedule

The Gulledge Elementary six-classroom addition has been approved for roughly $815,000 more in construction costs than originally estimated in August.

Hot chicken is a Nashville tradition. (Courtesy Ricky's Nashville Hot Chicken)
Ricky's brings Nashville's hot chicken tradition to Richardson

The restaurant serves Nashville-style spicy fried chicken with various heat options.

Richardson’s latest budget report shows revenue is up in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019-20. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Richardson City Council hears first quarterly budget report for fiscal year 2019-20

General fund revenue totals $42.3 million, a $4.2 million increase year over year.

Two for the Money is Dale Wamstad's latest culinary project. (Makenzie Plusnick/Community Impact)
Dale Wamstad's new restaurant Two for the Money BBQ opens in Richardson

The menu includes prime brisket, St. Louis ribs and homemade sausage.

Methodist Richardson Medical Center is renovating two of its departments. (Olivia Lueckemeyer/Community Impact Newspaper)
Department renovations underway at Methodist Richardson Medical Center

The upgrades will bring new technology to the medical center.

public hearing adobe stock image
Collin County public hearing on proposed regulation revisions set for Feb. 24

The public will have the chance to speak on the new Collin County Subdivision Regulations and Collin County Floodplain Management Regulations.

A rendering shows what the new Town North Mazda dealership could look like upon reconstruction. (Rendering courtesy VLK Architects)
Council greenlights rebuild of Town North Mazda dealership in Richardson

The new building will be double the size of the existing 15,000-square foot dealership.

An unveiling reception will be held at the Eisemann Center on March 6 at 7 p.m. (Olivia Lueckemeyer/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unveiling of first Eisemann Edge art installation set for March 6

The piece commemorates Richardson’s accomplishments and technological contributions to the world.

Back to top