North Texas Daily

Our Tier One university needs a lot more renovations

Our Tier One university needs a lot more renovations

Our Tier One university needs a lot more renovations
April 27
09:00 2017

The Editorial Board

On Feb. 2, UNT announced its celebratory ranking among 115 top-tier research universities in the U.S. – an echelon bestowed from the Carnegie Classification of Higher Education a day earlier. Now that it is considered “one of the ‘highest research’ institutions in the country,” according to the Denton-Record Chronicle, the university reached one of the goals that UNT President Neal Smatresk set last semester.

A sizable part of his State of the University address in September 2016 discussed reaching that level of acclaim, as UNT prides itself on awarding “a large number of doctoral degrees each year.” We are certainly pleased with some of the progress that our beloved Mean Green has made over the past few years, which include the 2015 renovations to the Union and a nearly $1 million partnership with one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, the Dallas Cowboys.

However, it does strike us with wonderment as to how certain areas on campus have seen entirely new buildings, while others continue to age, wear, tear or simply appear to be uninspired.

Smatresk stated in an interview last summer that his administration has “moved mountains in regards to deep infrastructure, landscaping and physical changes to the [university] grounds.” He also said, “A lot of people don’t notice and take it for granted, but we’ve made the campus a lot prettier than it was.”

This may be the case, but why is it that Wooten Hall continues to resemble a set piece from “Lean on Me?” Why is it that the lineup from Kerr to Clark Hall touts flawed substratum, but their cousin Rawlins can boast about “neighborhood lounges and study rooms” on all of its floors? And if College Inn is fully “paid off,” why is it that the foundation has been referred to as “‘iffy’ on the east side?” Especially when it was built over 50 years ago and continues to have expensive upkeep.

Although it is relatively unknown how well UNT consolidates its money each year – and honestly, our money each year – we do know that the campus has been working on a new College of Visual Arts and Design building, and has plans to build a new residence hall behind Kerr as if Rawlins was not enough. If the UNT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction wanted to be wise, they would take their approved budget of $4.9 million and put it towards making Kerr a better place for man, woman and student kind. Or at least making Kerr’s food better.

At the same time, there is merit to building new residence halls, parking lots and buildings for the Mean Green’s different colleges. 37,299 students attend UNT as of March 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This is a 2,260-person difference from last spring’s enrollment data, and is further proof of UNT’s growing popularity among Texas universities.

Due to this, the best course of action for Smatresk and company would be to have a better balance of new construction with the imperative need for campus refurbishments. If they prioritized that balance for the next update of the Campus Master Plan, the next few generations of UNT students could inhabit a campus that actually appears to be Tier One.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

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