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Dallas A&M-Commerce students face potential displacement

By James Bright
On March 28, 2011


Texas A&M University-Commerce may have to move more than 700 students from the Universities Center at Dallas to an unknown location in the coming months.

The building, located at 1901 Main St., was purchased by the University of North Texas system from the Dallas County Community College District in August of 2008. Since that time, the UNT system administration has decided that the space may be better suited for administration offices or the UNT law school slated to open in the fall of 2013, according to Executive Director of the Universities Center at Dallas Berri O'Neil.

President Dan Jones and O'Neil both said all options are being looked into before moving the students and the two schools are working cooperatively. Jones said it is possible that classes may move to a new building, but it should not displace students too much.

"We are committed to staying in downtown," he said.

Although there is no concrete timetable on when the move would take place, Jones said A&M-Commerce is not wasting time in researching new locations.

"They are working with us to accommodate our needs, but the pressure on the space is now," he said.

Jones said A&M-Commerce operates like a tenet in the building with the UNT system being the landlord.

"The University Center has never owned its own classroom space," he said.

One option mentioned by O'Neil would be purchasing the upper four floors of the building.

"Currently we only the use the first four floors," she said.

This purchase could make adequate room for A&M-Commerce, UNT, the UNT system administration offices, new law school and the University of Texas at Arlington, all of which hold classes, or work out of the building. Renovation costs could stand in the way of this plan though, with construction costs at $12 million. Due to the budget cuts faced by every public school in Texas in the upcoming biennium, O'Neil said most of the money for the renovations would have to come from alumni, which could cause a problem.

"Most alumni want to donate to the main campus of UNT," she said. "Since they never went to UCD, they prefer their money goes to where they went to school."

O'Neil said the UNT system has also looked into purchasing a building diagonal from the current UCD campus. She said this building, which is already a government building, would have low renovation costs and make it easy to start a law school.

There are 1,200 students enrolled this spring at UCD of which A&M-Commerce students make up 58 percent. O'Neil said since UCD opened A&M-Commerce students have made up an estimated 80 percent of all students to enroll at the campus.

O'Neil said she is hopeful a solution benefitting all involved will be reached.

"We want everyone to have their own space," she said.

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