The Universities Center at Dallas (UCD) is a Multi-Institution Teaching Center (MITC) located in downtown Dallas, Texas. Operation of the UCD is provided by the Federation of North Texas Area Universities, an educational consortium comprised of the following institutions:
- Texas A&M University-Commerce
- University of North Texas
- University of Texas at Arlington **
The member institutions cooperate in the offering of upper division undergraduate courses and graduate courses that may be applied to programs offered by the partner institutions.
History of The UCD
The Universities Center at Dallas (UCD) was established in 1994 as the Dallas Education Center (DEC) and is located in the former Joske’s Department Store building at 1901 Main Street in downtown Dallas. The UCD was the first Multi-Institution Teaching Center (MITC) for higher education in Texas and was established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to provide access to public higher education at the upper division and graduate levels to citizens who live, work and find it convenient to take their education in downtown Dallas. The City of Dallas, the business community, and the Alliance for Higher Education partnered to provide opportunities for such access by establishing the DEC, which became the UCD.
Enrollment steadily increased from 23 students in the summer of 1994 to 2188 students in the fall of 2000. Currently, UCD enrollment ranges each semester between 1,000 to 1,200 students. The Federation of North Texas Area Universities assumed direct operations of the DEC in the fall of 1997. The Federation is a consortium of three universities that has been in business for over 30 years. Its original membership (Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas Woman’s University, and the University of North Texas) has been supplemented by four affiliate members; The University of Texas at Arlington, the University of Texas at Dallas, Midwestern State University and the Dallas Community College District (DCCCD). The Federation of North Texas Area Universities was established in 1968 to coordinate graduate programs among the three member universities and to promote inter-institutional cooperation. This is accomplished through a Federation Council, a Committee of Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs and Graduate Deans and numerous program committees.
In October 1997, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the Center’s request for two bachelor degrees, in addition to the MBA, that may be completed entirely downtown: a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science degree in Legal Information Management (now via distance education) and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.
In the spring of 1998, the DCCCD became the owner of the building and in the summer of 1998 the name of the Center was changed to the Universities Center at Dallas to better reflect the nature of the operation. Two additional degree programs were approved by the Coordinating Board at its October 1998 meeting including the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Master of Science in Criminal Justice.
In the spring of 2000, the Coordinating Board approved the Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media degree and the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree. Many additional courses and degree programs have been offered including Interdisciplinary Studies (Elementary Education), Management Information Systems, Social Work, a Master’s in Human Resource Development, a Master’s in Health Care Administration, and courses toward a Doctor of Education degree in Higher Education Administration. Additional programming includes a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. Future programs and courses have been proposed in the fields of graduate Real Estate, Counseling and Accounting.
Regarding the UCD’s technical advancement, the University of North Texas installed a university computer laboratory and a two-way videoconferencing facility in the spring of 1998 to enhance the academic support services provided to students at the Center. The UCD obtained foundation grants to install two additional videoconferencing facilities in the fall of 1998 and 1999, thereby tripling the distance education capability of the Center. Texas A&M-Commerce installed a fourth distance learning facility in the fall of 1999. When the DCCCD became the proprietor of the building, it invested $1.3 million (including $500,000 from the City of Dallas) during the summer of 1998 in the refurbishing of the exterior, the ground floor, and selected classrooms of the Center, installing a language laboratory, two computer laboratories, and an executive training center. Most recently, an additional grant was obtained in 2003 to attain wireless functionality for the building and all students and faculty members.
Four out of seven floors of the building have been refurbished. The fourth floor was refurbished in the fall of 2000 at the cost of $2.8 million (including $2.5 million from the downtown TIF). The Dallas Independent School District moved into offices and classrooms in spring 2002 to house DISD staff/teacher training. In 2004, representatives from the University of North Texas System also occupied office space on the fourth floor of the UCD. Additional faculty and staff offices will be occupied in 2006 in conjunction with several of the Federation’s member institutions. Universities Center at Dallas now has expanded to six video-conference facilities and three general access computer labs. In the summer of 2006, The Hillcrest Foundation enabled the renovation of two classrooms located on the second floor with a gift of $50,000 toward furniture and equipment. Expansion will continue as programs are developed at the Center. These are exciting days for the UCD, with further program and student population growth anticipated.