UTD Engineering school wins approval

Dallas Times Herald
Nov 1, 1986
By Mitchell Schnurman

The technology and education communities in Dallas received a boost Friday with state regulatory board approval for the establishment of a new school of engineering and computer science for the University of Texas at Dallas.

The designation by the Coordinating Board of the Texas College and University System is the first for a Texas engineering school since 1950, officials said. And it was granted only after UTD met several board requirements, including architectural planning of the school's new facility on the UTD campus and raising more than $50 million.

UTD officials, who said construction of a 50,000-square-foot building is likely to start in January, said the new school would boost the credibility of UTD's current engineering program and bolster its fund-raising efforts.

"This gives us the kind of recognition we needed," said UTD president Robert Rutford. "It shows us that the state, and a lot of other people, believe in us."

Rutford said there was considerable doubt about the prospects of creating the school when UTD and several leading Dallas area technology companies began pursuing the idea several years ago. But the movement picked up momentum in 1984 after Mayor A. Starke Taylor's high-tech task force said the school was pivotal to the continued growth of technology companies in Dallas.

That study prompted more than 100 area companies to get involved in a fund-raising campaign that so far has raised more than $20 million in private contributions.

"The industry and private foundation support were the keys to success on this project," said Kent Black, president of Rockwell International's Dallas-based Electronics Operations and chairman the fund-raising campaign for the school. "Only in the metroplex can you find this kind of support."

The Dallas area also has engineering schools at Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Arlington.

The state board approved an engineering program for UTD in July 1985 but withheld the engineering school designation until it met the following criteria:

  • UTD had to raise $52 million by 1991, and already it has accumulated about $49.5 million. Of this amount $21.5 million was raised through community contributions, largely from technology companies; $17.5 million arrived through the permanent university fund; and about $11 million was raised from UTD's own endowment-specifically the sale of surrounding land.

  • Enrollment in the program had to exceed 700 students, and UTD currently has about 745. About 730 are enrolled in the computer science program and about a dozen are in engineering, which offered its first class this fall.

  • UTD had to demonstrate that it was prepared to establish a facility for the school. UTD has had architectural plans drawn up and has designated an area on the north side of campus for the new building.