City of Edinburg applauds approval of $196M to construct new Valley university

City of Edinburg applauds approval of $196M to construct new Valley university
MGN ONLINE
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Thursday, November 14, 2013 - 4:00pm

A major first for Edinburg, City officials proudly support the approval of funds for a medical school building on the existing University of Texas-Pan American campus, as well as an additional science building.
The structures will be part of the University of Texas System’s newest institution in the Valley. The UT System Board of Regents approved allocating a total of $196 million to further develop the historic effort in the Valley at its meeting in Austin today.

Currently known as Project South Texas, the endeavor promises to be a catalyst for change in the region as it brings a new university with an integrated medical school. The regional institution will be the product of a merger between UTPA in Edinburg and the University of Texas at Brownsville. It will also include a component in Harlingen.

Today’s vote by the UT Regents allocates money as follows:

• Project South Texas academic campuses: $142 million
     UTPA science building - $70 million
     UTB facilities - $72 million

• University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio:
     Edinburg Medical Academic Building - $54 million

Until the Valley medical school achieves its own accreditation it will operate under UTHSC-SA.

The 88,000 square foot medical academic building in Edinburg will be adjacent to the existing medical research building near the intersection of Sugar Road and Schunior Street, according to UT System Facilities Planning and Construction Committee documents. The current facility is part of the Regional Academic Health Center.

The new building will include a student lounge, lecture halls, classrooms, an auditorium, a digital library, a clinical skills center and an anatomy teaching facility.

This is the first time Edinburg will benefit from Permanent University Fund money. The significance of obtaining PUF money lies in the fact that, previously, no University of Texas institution in the Valley had access to the pool of state money. This changed with the approval of a new Valley university.

Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza Jr. was in Austin for today’s meeting to show the City’s enthusiasm regarding the prospect of new university facilities here. “This is an exciting day for Edinburg and the Rio Grande Valley. I applaud the expedited efforts of the UT Regents and look forward to working with them as we move toward making this a reality.”

Garza is the liaison for the UT system on behalf of the City of Edinburg and Hidalgo County. Careful master planning with input from the City are part of the ongoing process.

Mayor Richard H. Garcia, a strong proponent of the effort for the regional university, welcomed today’s news saying “This is a whole new era. This will change everybody’s way of life for the better. This is the platform the region needed to reach its full potential.”

Meanwhile, the science facility is an addition of some 120,000 square feet for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) studies and will offer instructional, research lab and classroom space.

Additionally, the City of Edinburg is pleased the Board of Regents further upheld its commitment to develop a world-class research institution in the Valley. The board approved $1 million in PUF support for the UT System Research Incentive Program.

The money will provide one-time matching funds to help selected universities. They will use the funds to help leverage private gifts for enhanced research productivity and faculty recruitment pertaining to capital and equipment items as stipulated in UT System documents.

On Monday, the UT System released five suggested names and logos for the new university.
UT System Chancellor Cigarroa is once again slated to visit the Valley on November 20. He recently delivered an update regarding the project on October 24 at UTPA.
 

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