TWU, UNT plan further collaboration

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Specifics lacking as university officials try to quell merger fears

Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas are exploring new ways to partner in the areas of academic affairs and student life, officials with both universities announced Thursday.

Officials said they have agreed to actively pursue opportunities for collaboration. There are no specifics at this point, they said, and it may take a couple of years before anything is implemented.

“The TWU/UNT collaboration is not intended as a prelude to merger,” TWU Chancellor and President Ann Stuart and Robert Neely, TWU provost and vice president for academic affairs, wrote in their letter to faculty and staff.

Warren Burggren, provost and vice president for academic affairs at UNT, said the collaboration will be beneficial for students and the city.

“Denton is a higher education community with two great universities in it,” Burggren said.

Too often, it’s been considered the home of one or the other, he said.

The two universities already collaborate in some areas, including through dual-degree programs.

They also partner with Texas A&M University-Commerce in the Federation of North Texas Area Universities on graduate programs, including art, computer science, psychology, early childhood studies, molecular biology, special education, reading and sociology.

The federation, established in 1968, was approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

UNT and TWU have also partnered on a dual-degree program in which students can earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UNT and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from TWU simultaneously. The program was established in 2007.

A couple of years ago, the universities gave students the option to earn a degree in materials science at UNT along with a math or chemistry degree from TWU.

“It has benefited our students,” said Don Edwards, senior associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and chairman of the mathematics and computer science department at TWU.

He said even with the federations, the partnership between the universities is limited because it is restricted to the programs it supports.

Approval for this new partnership that’s forming depends on what the universities agree to partner on, Edwards said.

TWU and UNT will begin by looking at what other universities have done.

One example Edwards gave was the Boston Consortium for Higher Education, which was established in 1995 and includes 11 Boston-area colleges and universities.

With both institutions working with limited resources, anything they can do to make more options available to students is a good thing, Edwards said.

“They are going to build an inventory,” Burggren said, looking at what the universities are already doing together, how they can enhance that and what they should be doing together in the future.

Burggren pointed out that UNT has partnerships with universities in Chile, Mexico and Thailand.

“I think we can probably do it in Denton,” he said, adding that there is a “great deal of potential.”

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com .


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