Bachelor's, Master's Degrees to be Offered at New Collin College Site in McKinney
September 19, 2007 - Collin College announced today that it will partner with universities to offer junior- and senior-level college courses as well as a graduate degree program at a new site in McKinney at Bridge Street Town Centre.
The move became public following a vote that green-lighted a land donation for the future site of the Collin Higher Education Center. On Tuesday, Sept. 18, the McKinney City Council approved a development agreement in which the McKinney Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) provided a 5.5-acre site valued at approximately $1.8 million to the college at no cost. The parcel is located on the northeast corner St. Hwy. 121 and U.S. 75. In addition to the Collin Higher Education Center, the new campus would house selected administrative departments now located at the Courtyard Center in southwest Plano. The college is also exploring the possibility of including a research institute in the facility.
"This is a red-letter day for collegiate education in Collin County," said Dr. J. Robert Collins, founding trustee and chair of the Collin College Board of Trustees. "We have been deluged with requests for upper-level classes, and now we will have the capacity to bring these additional degrees to our students."
The concept will encourage students to complete an associate degree at Collin College, and complete a university bachelor's degree without leaving Collin County. The master's degree is also expected to be a hot program because more than 300,000 of Collin County's 724,000+ residents already have a baccalaureate degree.
Trustee Cindy Bauge chairs the board committee that reviewed sites for the Higher Education Center. "We worked very hard for several years to realize the board's vision. The intent was to select a site that was centrally-located within our service area and accessible to major highways. We believe our new Higher Education Center will be a tremendous resource for our students and the community," she said. Trustee Bauge also commended Thad Helsley, McKinney mayor pro-tem, for championing the project as well as the City of McKinney and the MEDC for their generous donation.
"Transitioning students from community college to four-year institutions and beyond will be key to the success of higher education in Texas," said State Senator Florence Shapiro. "Thanks to the innovative and forward-thinking ideas of President Cary Israel and the Board, Collin College will now be able to partner with four-year institutions around the state so that our students who cannot commute will still be able to earn degrees from our prestigious institutions without leaving their own backyard. This 'outside the box' thinking is exactly what Collin County and the State of Texas need to better prepare our students for the future. Collin County is setting a great example for the rest of the state, and I commend Collin College for its leadership and innovation."
According to college president Cary Israel, there are many higher education options in North Texas, but commuting time is a major obstacle for busy, working adults. "University centers have been successful across the country, and our Higher Education Center will offer convenient access to quality degree programs. I would like to thank our Board of Trustees, the City of McKinney and MEDC for seeing this through to fruition. Also, I am very grateful to Senator Shapiro who helped strategize on this collaborative partnership."
For local officials, the announcement has economic impact as well. "Having a four-year education institution in McKinney and Collin County will benefit our residents for years to come," said Helsley. "Through our strong public-private partnership with Collin College, we are expanding the educational opportunities for all area residents."
This fall, enrollment at Collin College exceeded 20,000 credit students. In total, the college served about 44,000 credit and continuing education students last year. Because the demand for college degrees and professional programs is expected to continue to grow in Collin County, strategic plans of several area communities call for a four-year public university to have a local presence.
"These additional educational opportunities add to the list of reasons to live and work in McKinney. Collin College started here and this announcement shows our city's commitment to continuing education," said McKinney Council Member Bill Cox. "This project is unique in Collin County and will give McKinney businesses yet another advantage when recruiting and retaining top talent."
College leaders say they will avoid duplication of service when planning the facility. "We will be sensitive to UTD and SMU because they are nearby," said Israel. "We will be seeking partners to deliver the new coursework. Certainly, we will give the first opportunities to our university partners that have worked so closely with us in the past."
Those partner institutions include Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University (College Station), Texas A&M-Commerce, Texas Tech University, Texas Woman's University, The University of Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas.
However, Israel said, the college will give some exclusivity in terms of majors and programs. "We will not have multiple MBAs from different universities at this site, for example."
The Board of Trustees will continue to work with the president and his staff to develop a strategic plan and university partnerships for the center. The college expects to break ground on the facility by February 2008 and open the doors by spring 2010.
"With its fast-growing, education-minded population, Collin County will certainly be a location where a university center can thrive," Israel said.