Getting to know Dean Randall

Clinical Associate Professor
Doctor of _____

Dr. Randall content here.

If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?

Be able to sleep soundly on demand. Set the clock and not wake up until eight hours later. If you are like me and you’ve always got the hamster wheel going - worrying about things you can’t control anyways - that would be high quality of life for me.

I have heard you are into cars. In your opinion, what is the best or your favorite car(s) ever created? Why?

That’s a tough question. If it was what car I would just love to have, then it would probably be what they call a Chevy Nova 2. It’s like a 1960s Nova, but have it built as a pro-street drag car. I would hit the North Star Raceway. The other one for driving is the new Corvette. It remains to be seen, but it's different. It has a mid-engine like a Ferrari so it looks cool and it will be interesting to see how it will deal with road racecourses. For the amount of power and capability, its relatively affordable.

What are any hobbies you have picked up during quarantine?

t would be spending more quality time with my wife. We are quarantined together - you would think we would drive each other nuts, but not at all. I’m fortunate that I married my best friend. We have known each other since high school. We have been figuring ways out to spend time together. We did some gardening which is something we’ve never done before.

As the Dean at UNT Frisco, what are some challenges you face day-to-day? How do you deal with those?

In this case with what we are trying to accomplish at Frisco, we are trying to scale up and see if we can figure out smart, new ways of doing things. The biggest challenge is attempting to build a foundation where the people we hire feel safe and empowered to come up with a better way of doing things. Right now, we are trying to constantly grow enrollments so that when we open a new building, we have students that are ready to come to school. It means that we must try new things.

At main campus, folks know what they are doing, and they do it well. At Frisco, we are trying to figure out new things. The bulk of my time is spent advocating for the resources to enable us to achieve our lofty goals, or secondly, it's to truly help people realize they can study a problem, make a decision, and if it doesn’t work out – that’s okay. It’s okay to fail but fail forward. That’s a different mindset we have. We are curious about failure in the context that we aren’t holding people accountable but learning what won’t work – what can we learn from that. Or what did work; what exceeded our expectations – what can we learn from that.

You have gone from military to civilian to scholar. How was that process? What factors led you to become a professor and then a dean?

For me, I always knew I wanted to do higher education. I believe deeply in education because it's something that you can’t lose, and it can’t be taken from you. It’s transformative and I knew ultimately this is where I wanted to be. Having an impact and being able to work with students to provide an education to help folks change their life was something I wanted to do. At UNT, I love it. At Frisco, we are trying to come with new ways of reaching students who may come in as adult learners or transfer students who want to learn certain things. We are figuring out a way for them to explore their passions and convert that into career ready skills.

What is on your post-quarantine bucket list?

We were supposed to go to Granada with my brother and his wife at Christmas. Probably get together with them and head to the Caribbean.

I have heard about UNT Frisco acquiring a few dozen acres of land. What does the future hold for UNT Frisco? What plans, news, or changes do you have in the works?

We have a grand scheme. Let’s talk about the deal to begin with. UNT decided that the area of Collin County and the city of Frisco is a great place to be. My predecessor, Brenda McCoy, did an amazing job with not a lot of help to get something up-and-running. She demonstrated that this is something real and something that UNT could double-down on.

The city of Frisco came to us and said “hey, we really would like to you to consider putting a branch campus here at Frisco.” We did some studies and brought people together to look at it. Frisco is the fastest growing city in the U.S. and McKinney is number two. So, that bit of land between Preston and Panther Creek is right in between the two. If you were going to build a university anywhere in the U.S., that land is where you would want to build one.

So, we made the deal, and our agreement is that we will break ground and put down building number one up. At the same time, we have a master plan that should take us all the way to 25,000 students. We will take parts from the main campus that are very much career-ready and collaborate with them to help students get ready for the next industrial revolution.

"Frisco has “live, work, play” and we are going to add the “learn.” It’s a great partnership and it really works out well."

What are your favorite aspects of your duties at UNT Frisco? Is there anything(s) incredibly fulfilling?

In general, what I love about UNT, especially with our students, is that we are a minority majority - Hispanic-serving. There’s a lot of first-generation students. It’s the coming demographic, right? It is America right here in our student population. That is awesome.

The other thing that is fulfilling - there’s a guy named Adam Fein said the two most burdensome words in higher education is “some college.” What I enjoy most is that we are able to help adult learners with some college – who haven’t finished and are being burdened. It’s a weight on their soul. What we are doing is trying to give those students the credit they deserve and move them forward without giving them the third-degree.

"That is the most fulfilling thing. To see someone who thought they would never finish and sit them down and say, 'it may be more doable than you think.' We get it done and get them back into the workforce."

With a history in aviation and logistics, what skills from that background in your professional life now? Any specific advantages your experience lends to you?

I think it is the appreciation for complex problems. Everything at UNT Frisco we are trying to do is scaled-up because we are trying to grow dramatically. The kind of innovative ways that Americans transformed in the military through the 90s and early-2000s - the idea of being agile, being flexible, being adaptable and being able to figure out complex problems by studying them deeply and then pulling back to find a simple solution. That perspective of seeking an answer to complexity that is rooted in simplicity. We take things in higher education and find simple solutions.

What is something about you that is unexpected or surprising to others? A fun fact.

I am trying to learn the drums - and I am terrible. It’s kind of awesome because it's this love/hate relationship. Maybe one day it will click, but right now it appears I have almost no skill. It’s probably good for me because it is humbling. I’m just hammering on it, but there’s something that is fundamentally good for me. I think it makes me a better person or a better teacher. Something isn’t clicking but I know that there are folks who feel the same way with statistics or calculus. It’s not you, it’s the way you are being taught. It’s kind of my Moby Dick, but there’s something that is good for me.

Did we miss anything? Anything you want to add, or you think people should know about you or UNT Frisco?

The only thing I want to say - what is cool about Frisco is getting to see the whole thing working. We get to manage all the aspects of what is going on in this college campus. It’s a really cool opportunity to see how the whole enterprise works deeply. I work with Hope Garcia and it’s awesome to work with a partner who understands everything about everything. She understands the whole enterprise deeply and we work to ensure good outcomes for the students. It’s a really cool way to work. You can see how things can go better and lead to long term benefits to students.

About the Author:

Mallory Cammarata is a senior at the University of North Texas with a major in journalism and a concentration in public relations. She spent her first two years at UNT studying photojournalism and taking photos for North Texas Daily, the student newspaper. At the beginning of her junior year, Mallory decided to pursue her passion for writing and switch her concentration to public relations. She is currently an intern at AgenZ PR where she writes blogs, produces marketing materials and takes photos. After graduating in December 2020, Mallory hopes to apply her new PR skills at an agency or nonprofit organization.