The East Texan

UCD to move classes to El Centro College

Imogené Wofford, Co-Editor

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The University Centers at Dallas plans to move to El Centro College by the start of Spring 2018 classes.

By Imogené Wofford | Co-Editor

On Nov. 7 Texas A&M University-Commerce’s University Centers at Dallas (UCD) and Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) signed an agreement at a board meeting to relocate UCD’s classes to El Centro College. Discussion for the relocation began in the late summer and early fall of this year.

UCD will begin moving its classes from Pacific Place nine blocks away to El Centro’s campus for the start of Spring 2018 classes. UCD will not lose any of its programs or classes because the campus is simply moving into the classrooms of El Centro.

“This will be a great opportunity for students because we are partnering with an educational facility,” Dr. Berri O’Neal, executive director for extended university, said. “El Centro has great resources because it was built for educational purposes.”

Dr. O’Neal oversees all six of TAMUC’s extended university locations that include Collin Higher Education Center in McKinney, Midlothian Higher Education Center, and UCD.

Following this past state legislative session and the nationwide budget cuts to university departments and programs, TAMUC’s president, provost, and administrative board had to come together to determine how they could utilize the funds they received and do what is best for the students.

Relocating to a new partner worked in favor of TAMUC, UCD, and the students because the tuition will not be affected, and UCD will be able to use El Centro’s educational facility without having to lease it like for Pacific Place’s building space.

“Pacific Place was not community college owned, nor was it an educational partner, [so] the building cost the university more to use because Downtown Dallas has high property value,” O’Neal said, “and these classes will be at an educational facility like the others [in the extended university]. By this, we can make sure that we use the best facility at the best price possible while still making sure that we give the best education possible.”

UCD began in 1993 when The Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) started the Multi Institutional Teaching Center (MITC), which included the University of North Texas (UNT), the University of Texas at Arlington, Midwestern State University, Texas Women’s University, DCCCD, and TAMUC.

MITC was used before online education was introduced to have sites where students could take courses for their degrees near their jobs and homes, instead of having to drive to Commerce. On the other hand, it was also for big cities that wanted to provide a place for higher education without having to spend millions of dollars on building universities.

This will be UCD’s third location in downtown Dallas.

UCD was located in the Titche-Goettinger Building for 21 years, which was owned by DCCCD before it was purchased by UNT in 2006 to expand their law school program into the Dallas College of Law. To allow UNT to have the space they needed, UCD moved across the street to Pacific Place in January 2015.

“This will be a very positive move because both UCD and El Centro have had a very strong presence in downtown Dallas, UCD has been there for 25 years and El Centro has been there for over 50 years,” she said. “This will allow us to maximize networking with business and educational entities.”

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6 Responses to “UCD to move classes to El Centro College”

  1. Ashton on November 9th, 2017 8:02 pm

    What this story does not outline is the loss students will face. As an alumni of the program I can say the current facilities offer the greater degree of success for its students. A gallery space, filled with inspiration that also hosts networking events. Several lecture and labs rooms, verses the 4 it will be reduced down to. A prestige and appeal that reflects the internationally awarded work of its students. Common areas to meet for student organizations and group projects. Printing facilities, and equipment check out. Hosting workshops to bring in new students, graduate students, and professors.

    All of this will be lost at El Centro because the program will be stripped down to its bare essentials for function. Despite the best efforts of UCD professors, I am sure. The Pacific Place location has only been open for a short amount of time and the university invested a lot of money into bringing an appropriate facility to its students. Why undo all that work. What the students will be receiving at El Centro is university prices at community college facilities.

    In the spring I had planned on brining the presidents of the company I work for on a tour and to give a talk to students, but there will be nothing left to show them and no large lecture room for them to share their wisdom. This is not a win for students.

  2. Cora Woodward on November 9th, 2017 9:54 pm

    I am also an alumni and I agree with Ashton. This is a terrible loss for students and a dishonest move by the decision makers. The students, alumni, and also prospective students were not told about the move happening until today. Prospective students were being given tours of our facility by these decision makers even while they knew they would be moving us. The lack of transparency and dishonesty is appalling. Additionally, this space was designed for us to grow our program which we have done within a very short amount of time when we had the space for the growth; just two years and our class size has almost tripled.
    We have also utilized this space for connecting with professionals in our field, hosting AIGA events, and even starting an international connecting with Tianjin University of Technolology. Once again just in those 2 year of being in this space. Just think what we could do in 2 more.
    However, even though our program is immensely successful, the university deems their resources not worthy for use towards this our future growth or our legacy.
    Alumni from this program work at prestigious firms internationally and we show their work within our gallery space for fundraisers and as a way to encourage learning. Taking away this well earned space is to really spit in their faces.
    All the students are upset and rightfully so.

  3. Hayley on November 9th, 2017 10:28 pm

    As a senior about to graduate, the news of the program moving is devastating. Being in the space we have already provides an unparalleled “educational environment”. Losing these facilities will impact my ability to perform on the same level. I depend on access to the building at all times. I choose to live next door to Pacific Place because I do not own a car. This decision strips the program to its bare minimum to fit in to such a small space, bringing me undue hardship. I am more than disappointed and hurt. The lack of transparency on this issue has only escalated my frustration. This was not in my best interest and I am grieved on the lose of access to such an ideal space. This needs to change.

  4. Vince Sidwell on November 10th, 2017 8:24 am

    I am deeply saddened by this decision.
    I have been an adjunct at the Dallas UCD fro TAMU-C since 2004. I am also adjunct at other universities and schools around Dallas. I am a working professional with over 20 years experience and a co-founder of the local animation union.
    TAMU-C at the UCD has a unique program that I feel will be negatively effected by this move. I am not reacting based on fear of change and I have understanding and respect of the financial issues associated with supporting a remote location. However, the new location chosen by the university will reduce enrollment, reduce the quality of the student work, diminish our prestige and place our student body at risk.
    First and foremost in my concern is the security issues introduced due to its new proximity to bus stations, busy intersections, homeless / transient populations, and the parking lot which is best known from the infamous 2016 Dallas police shooting incident. This is a very busy area of town with a history of crime.
    Next, I would like to address the negative impact of loosing classroom, studio and gallery space. The elimination of available labs due to consolidation will absolutely and without doubt, negatively impact the students ability to work on projects outside of class. As classes will be consolidated, the availability of open labs will be reduced. Furthermore, the operating hours of the university will be limited further impacting students ability to work on campus and in labs. I can see no instance where this is a plus for the program or the students. I regularly see students working in the open labs, and often allow students to work during class time if I have the space availability. We currently have 3-4 classes per night. This will eventually limit what classes can be offered and and growth to the program, as well as effect the schedule of the teaching professionals like myself.
    Gallery exhibitions are a key in bringing professionals, recruiters, and prospective students to the University. It brings us attention and offers the students a venue for professional presentation.
    I also feel the optics of moving to a community college do not play well for the university. To be clear, our current space is a massive upgrade from the previous space. UCD offered spacious labs, common areas, new equipment, windows and offices for faculty. As a new student, about to commit to several years and thousands of dollars in loans, I would want a comfortable safe environment. I would not want to know that I am essentially paying University prices for Community College experience.
    Our programs strength really comes from the faculty, the proximity to the industry and the availability of professional lecturers and studio tours. Although the new location may not effect this aspect of the TAMU-C experience, the comparison of the space to other institutions is dramatic. Since our move to the current space, I have noticed a HUGE difference in the incoming students. Our enrollment is up. Our regional/national awards continue to grow and gain recognition. The work has in my opinion, become the strongest programs in the region, possibly the state. And for all of the positive growth, we are being penalized.
    I mentioned up front I adjunct at other colleges and universities. I have either taught or lectured at SMU, Art Institute of Dallas, Collin and Richland Community Colleges and Media Tech. TAMU-C is by far the strongest design programs of all of these institutions and my favorite, the one I call home. It is an amazing program, led by the driving forces of Lee and Virgil. I do fear we will be loosing momentum. And if my past experience in the DCCCD system is any metric, we will lose instructors, students and all the momentum we have built.

  5. Chris Hill on November 14th, 2017 8:38 am

    Very disappointing news. This move is not the way to grow a program. Enough said!

  6. Cindy Dial on July 2nd, 2018 1:52 pm

    UT Austin’s Dallas program is in rented rooms at UT Southwestern. Baylor’s Dallas program is in rented rooms at Cooper Aerobics. But, oh no, the absolute horror that TAMUC programs are in rented rooms at El Centro?

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