The University of Dallas is known for its small campus, relative seclusion and the “bubble” those things create.
What many students do not know is that UD is much bigger than it appears.
Whether it is the wooded plot next to PDK, parcels around the old Texas Stadium site or fields across State Highway 114, UD is far more than its campus on East Northgate Drive.
Each piece of land plays a role in what the university’s world will look like in coming years.
A University News analysis of parcels outside the main campus shows that UD has plenty of opportunities to shape that world, depending on how, when and to whom it sells its land — or whether it sells at all.
Lately, the rumor mill has focused heavily on the woods next to PDK — a piece of property that the administration expects to sell to make way for a new residential development project that could become a home for professors not far from the apartments and dorms where students live.
During a recent sophomore Town Hall, a student asked what the university was going to do with the woods by PDK.
Some students had heard that a school would be built there, others that it would be sold to build apartments, and some believed that the property actually belonged to PDK.
During the meeting, student government representatives explained that part of the property had already been sold, and that the rest would soon be sold too.
According to the administration, that is not quite accurate.
The wooded parcel is up for sale, but no part of the land has been sold, according to associate vice president for administration Patrick Daly.
“If the buyer goes through with the deal, we’d close sometime in June,” Daly wrote in an email. “There’s always the possibility that the buyer could change his mind and not complete the purchase, but at this point all things indicate that he will go ahead and buy the land.”
For now, the 20.85 acres is under contract, Daly said.
For years, students have used the PDK woods for parties, bonfires and other fun.
But if things turn out as administrators expect, that land will become an upscale residential neighborhood, likely of single-family homes.
Daly hopes it might even be a place where UD staff and faculty choose to live.
According to Daly, the city of Irving is playing a hand in this as well. As part of the vision for the future, Irving officials would prefer single-family, higher-end properties on the space.
Of course, that little plot is only one of several holdings that UD maintains near the main campus.
The massive old Texas Stadium site does not belong to UD, but its future will affect land the university does own nearby.
If that site becomes a hot development property, as Irving officials hope, the university may reap a windfall by selling its smaller parcels to developers who are interested in the area.
Meanwhile, land behind the UD DART Station could also become valuable development property. There are two parcels between 114 and North Walton Walker Boulevard. The first is about 15 acres and the other around 20 acres. The former is valued by the Dallas Central Appraisal District at $376,890 and the latter at $201,210. This land is not developed, rather just kept up with a plan to sell it later. To the north of these is another plot of land that is almost 7.6 acres and valued at $77,570.
Just north of that plot, there is land along the Trinity River that has in past years been used for Groundhog celebrations. This parcel is valued by DCAD at nearly $9,000,0000 for the 90 acres.
This area has a long tradition and history of Groundhog celebrations, but to Daly, it is better suited for other city projects than for the school’s use. According to Daly, the university has been talking with the city of Irving about using the land for a trail system, which he believes would be a better option, as the land is a floodplain.
“But that’s up to the [university’s] board to decide,” Daly said.
All of the land might make some students ask whether UD plans to expand its campus for future generations.
“That’s not the vision,” executive vice-president Robert Galecke said. In a fitting UD way, he divides the land into “core” and “non-core” properties.
“The core is the main campus — the heart of what UD has been for so many years. The non-core properties away from the main campus are unlikely to ever be used for expansion of the campus,” Galecke said. “The university will always stay a small school.”
The school’s ideal undergraduate population, as outlined by President Thomas Keefe, would hover around 1,600 students. While this would mean a bit more development, it is not too far from the current number of students at the school.
The administration has been consistent on this idea, according to Galecke. And the additional land the university needs isn’t necessary to accommodate the ideal number of students.
Through all the presidents Galecke has worked under, they have all been clear in what they want: to make the core properties nicer, but not to expand any further. Certainly, to the administration as a whole, the university should remain what it has always been: a small liberal arts college.
Even if the world around it changes, UD will remain, at least in size, much as it is now.
“I call it an oasis,” Galecke said.