RICHARDSON, Texas (Nov. 3, 2004) – As a symbol of the innovative, public-private partnership that produced the largest economic-development agreement announced in the United States last year, The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) this month will join with Texas Instruments (TI) in unprecedented simultaneous groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of two facilities expected to provide a boon to Texas’ high-tech economy for decades to come.
On the morning of Nov. 18, TI will break ground for its new $3-billion chip fabrication plant in Richardson near the UTD campus. The huge facility will build the world's most advanced semiconductors on 300-millimeter (12-inch diameter) silicon wafers. At exactly the same time, UTD will break ground for its $85-million Natural Science and Engineering Research Building, a facility that is expected to add momentum to UTD’s drive to become one of the nation’s “Tier One” academic research institutions.
TI and the university will hold a celebration breakfast and joint ceremonies on the UTD campus.
The location of the two state-of-the-art facilities in North Texas was made possible by a much-publicized, extremely complex, economic-development agreement code-named “Project Emmitt.” Under the agreement, which was announced on June 30, 2003, by TI, the State of Texas and the University of Texas System at a heavily attended news conference at UTD, TI agreed to build the chip fabrication plant in Richardson – despite some strong inducements from locations in other parts of the world -- if the state and local private sector would ensure that UTD received an infusion of up to $300 million to expand and improve its Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
Jonsson School Dean Bob Helms, who was one of the key behind-the-scenes players in making Project Emmitt a reality and who will serve as master of ceremonies of the event, said that many of the same officials who were present for the Emmitt announcement 15 ½ months ago also were expected to attend the Nov. 18 ceremonies and deliver remarks. They include Gov. Rick Perry, UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof, UTD President Dr. Franklyn Jenifer, TI Chairman of the Board Tom Engibous and Richardson Mayor Gary Slagle. Other dignitaries, including James Huffines, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, Plano Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Doug Otto and Collin County Community College President Dr. Cary Israel also are expected to attend.
UTD’s new four-story, 192,000-square-foot Natural Science and Engineering Research Building will be located on the southeast corner of Synergy Parkway and Rutford Avenue on the northern end of campus. The facility, which is expected to be completed by the summer of 2006 and fully occupied by the end of that year, will be the second largest building at the university (after UTD’s School of Management building, which opened last year). It will contain laboratories, a clean room, space for a business “incubator” and other areas dedicated to research.
Under Project Emmitt, $50 million of the $300 million UTD expects to receive is coming from the Texas Enterprise Fund, which was established to provide economic-development monies to induce companies to do business in the Lone Star State and to locate facilities here. The grant to UTD is the largest made to date from the Enterprise Fund, which was heavily pushed by Gov. Perry. (Project Emmitt was named after former Dallas Cowboys star running back Emmitt Smith, who, when the TI agreement was being considered, had just departed for another football team, the Arizona Cardinals. The implied exhortation was that Texas should not allow TI’s new $3-billion manufacturing plant similarly to go elsewhere or to be built anywhere but in North Texas).
TI has been a strong supporter of U. T. Dallas since the university’s inception 35 years ago and, in fact, three of the company’s founders also founded the research institute that in 1969 became The University of Texas at Dallas. The three, all now deceased, were former Dallas Mayor Erik Jonsson, for whom the engineering and computer science school is named, Cecil Green and Eugene McDermott. Green and McDermott also have buildings at UTD named after them.
“Because of all the attention Project Emmitt has received and the importance of North Texas’ developing a Tier One research university to supplement the internationally renowned University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, I think the Nov. 18 event will be as much of a celebration as a groundbreaking ceremony,” said UTD President Jenifer, who will be retiring soon. “Certainly, it will be for me.”
Jenifer said the new research building would be one of UTD’s “crown jewels,” and he emphasized that it would not have been possible without the “dedication, hard work and vision of literally hundreds of people, including, of course, Gov. Perry and Tom Engibous.
“We want to make sure that everyone involved – particularly the City of Richardson, Collin County, the Plano Independent School District and the Collin County Community College District, all of which made important concessions as well as contributions – knows how much we appreciate the role that they played.” Jenifer said.
“This is going to be a day to remember – a day to reminisce about – when U. T. Dallas enters the ranks of Tier One research universities. And I think that day is going to arrive sooner than many people expect.”
When construction is completed, UTD expects to fill the Natural Science and Engineering Research Building with high-level faculty and researchers, including some currently at UTD and others recruited to the university as a result of Project Emmitt. Dean Helms has pledged that the research building will be among the “best facilities of its kind anywhere in the country, on a par with similar research facilities at some of the nation’s top universities, including the University of California, San Diego, and Cornell.” According to Helms, the new building eventually will house as many as 350 faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers from the fields of electrical engineering, material science, chemistry, biology and behavioral and brain sciences, as well as provide space for small, start-up businesses, or incubators, that often spring from university research efforts.
The principal architect for the building is PageSutherlandPage of Dallas. The construction management contractor is Centex Corporation of Dallas.
The Natural Science and Engineering Research Building is just one of three facilities U. T. Dallas is adding to significantly boost its research capacity. The university also has purchased and is renovating two existing buildings located off campus, one near UT Southwestern Medical Center to house UTD’s Center for BrainHealth, the other just a few hundred feet west of UTD’s Richardson campus to house offices and research laboratories of some faculty and staff from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Together, the three buildings will add more than 300,000 square feet of research space to UTD in the next two years. At present, UTD’s research expenditures amount to about $33 million a year. Tier One institutions usually do at least $100 million in research annually.
In May, in a report prepared for The University of Texas System, the nationally prominent consultancy Washington Advisory Group stated that U. T. Dallas had the potential to achieve Tier One status, but concluded it would take at least a decade for the university to reach that level and that significant additional resources would be needed.
Jenifer and Helms both say that although it will be difficult, UTD can surpass the $100-million benchmark sooner than that.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.