The University of North Texas at Dallas has been a beacon of promise in Southern Dallas for years—by nurturing aspiring educators, combatting food deserts, offering pitch competitions, helping to attract developments that could “rewrite perceptions” of its local community, and more.
Then came Tuesday, when the university dedicated a literal beacon. The 180-foot Ryan Tower is visible for miles in every direction and is meant to serve as “an icon of the university, a symbol for higher learning, and a prominent symbol of the community it serves.”
UNT Dallas broke ground on Ryan Tower last year. The lighted tower includes a water feature, a donor wall, masonry seat walls, and a lighted pedestrian plaza. Located at the heart of the university, it’s the latest structure to be added to the 264-acre UNT Dallas campus.
You can see a cool timelapse of the tower’s construction here.
Amanda and G. Brint Ryan donated $2M to fund the tower
The tower was dedicated by Amanda and G. Brint Ryan—major UNT benefactors who donated $2 million to fund it—and is named in their honor. The couple helped cut the blue ribbon in a ceremony attended by UNT Dallas President Bob Mong, State Senator Royce West, university students, and other members of the UNT Dallas leadership team. (The Ryans are seen at center above, to the right of Mong, who’s wearing light-colored pants.)
G. Brint Ryan is the founder, chairman of the board, and CEO of Ryan LLC, the Dallas-based global tax services and software provider. He’s an alumnus of the University of North Texas in Denton and a past chairman of the UNT System board of regents.
“I believe education is the most powerful catalyst for change that there is. It lifts people out of poverty and gives them the opportunity to enjoy the full freedom that is the promise behind the American Dream,” G. Brint Ryan said in a statement. “Amanda and I have shared our success here because we believe so much in the mission of UNT Dallas.”
‘Symbolizes the heights’ the school’s students will attain
UNT Dallas President Bob Mong has viewed the tower’s progress since its groundbreaking last year, and sees it as a lasting metaphor.
“Every time I see the tower, I am inspired,” he said in a statement. “Without exception. For me, it symbolizes the heights our students and our future students will attain. I’m grateful to the Ryan family for believing in UNT Dallas and its students, faculty and staff.”
The university says the tower will be a location to establish UNT Dallas Trailblazer customs and traditions. But UNT Dallas Student Government Association President Jessica Armstead sees the tower in her own way.
“Walking on campus and seeing Ryan Tower shows that UNT Dallas is growing and that the community is standing behind us on our way forward into the future,” Armstead said in the statement. “The light that shines from it makes students feel empowered to become a beacon, not only in their lives but in their homes and communities.”
Ryans gave $30 million to UNT in 2019 to establish a business school
This may be the tallest, but it isn’t the only mark the Ryans have left on the UNT System. In 2019, the couple made a $30 million commitment—at the time, the largest gift in UNT’s history—to create the G. Brint Ryan College of Business and support efforts to make it one of the top business schools in the nation.
“My experience at UNT transformed me,” G. Brint Ryan said when he and his wife made the 2019 commitment. “It opened my eyes to a world of incredible possibility. The skills and lessons I learned at UNT enabled me to build and lead a fantastic team of people to the top of the global tax services and software business. I’m thrilled to be able to share some of that success with UNT business students and faculty.”
Ryan earned a combined Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in accounting from UNT in 1988.
VAI Architects and others behind the tower’s construction
VAI Architects created the conceptual design for Ryan Tower, UNT Dallas said. A design-build team performed the design and construction, led by the Post L Group as the construction contractor, with TreanorHL as design architect and Vaughn Construction as a construction partner.
More scenes from Tuesday’s ribbon cutting
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