Mavs Move-In Day

Jazmine Price wasn’t sure what to be more excited about on Monday: her first day in a college dormitory or the opening of her new home, the University of Texas at Arlington’s Vandergriff Hall.

The sleek 500-room residence hall is one portion of the final phase of UTA’s College Park housing and retail development that opens this fall.

“It’s nice to have everything so close by,” said Jazmine, 18, of the upcoming shops and restaurants that will open within the next few months. “I like a more homey environment. That’s really important to me.”

The Cedar Hill economics major said she chose UTA for its academic rigor. But she and her family also said there’s no better time for her live in Arlington, only 30 minutes from home.

“The City of Arlington is growing and it’s drawing a lot of students here because of this new development,” said Walter Price, Jazmine’s uncle and a 1985 UTA graduate. “This is high tide.”

UTA kicks off its academic year this week by celebrating the completion of the school’s College Park, a 20-acre development on the campus’ eastern boundary.

A slate full of welcome-to-campus events will lead up to classes beginning on Thursday.

The smell of new carpet and fresh paint added to Monday’s university-wide move-in day excitement at the new Vandergriff Hall dormitory as UTA rolled out the welcome mat for two new student living spaces. The Lofts at College Park apartments also opened this week.

The dormitory, named for longtime Arlington Mayor and Tarrant County Judge Tom J. Vandergriff, and apartments connect to a new downtown parking garage, also a part of the College Park area.

About 5,300 students will live on campus this fall, with another 775 students living near the northwest edge of campus in new, privately developed student complexes along UTA Boulevard.

Vandergriff Hall students marveled at their new digs, complete with state-of-the-art washers and dryers, gaming center and plump chairs with seating areas overlooking the College Park Center arena.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and UTA President James Spaniolo helped with the unpacking and eased first-day jitters by carrying students’ belongings and visiting with families.

“It’d be great to live here and be in the middle of everything,” Spaniolo remarked as he walked through one of the dorm’s hallways, taking in the view of College Park Center out the window.

Spaniolo called students taking over the completed building a gratifying payoff for the school.

“It’s a great day to be a Maverick,” he said.

Mayor Cluck praised the new development and the energy throughout the complex.

“UTA is no longer a commuter school,” Cluck said. “That whole perception has changed.”

The annual MavsMeet convocation will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday in College Park Center. Students then will gather at The Green at College Park, just south of the center, for games, food and music at the MavsMeet AfterParty.

More than 33,500 students are expected to attend UT Arlington this fall.