The University of Texas-Pan American and The University of Texas at Brownsville united at the Texas State Capitol in Austin recently to garner support for a new university and medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.
The Rio Grande Valley' s voice echoed loud and strong throughout the rotunda and halls of the Texas State Capitol as more than a hundred students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni from UTPA and UT Brownsville and the Valley's legislative delegation gathered to round up support for a new university in South Texas. The group was also joined by members of UTPA's award winning Mariachi Aztlan and UTB's Guitar Ensemble. Both troupes had a unique opportunity to showcase their talent and more importantly, take part in an historic opportunity that would significantly improve higher education and boost economic development in the region.
Erick Hernandez/UTB Guitar Ensemble Member, "It's just a really great feeling to be a part of all this. It's such a great thing that's happening and I'm just really honored to be here."
As part of RGV's Higher Education Day, the supporters formed teams and walked the halls of the Capitol visiting legislative offices. They passed out information and made brief presentations urging the passage of legislation that would merge UTPA and UTB and create a medical school. This unification would allow UT system administrators to form what their calling a "university of the 21st century" and make it eligible to receive funding from the Permanent University Fund estimated to be in the billions . The bill requires a two-thirds vote from both the house and senate to become a reality.
Dr. S.J. Sethi/Represents UTPA, "I have worked for Pan Am for over two decades and this is going to be such a historical opportunity. I am so excited."
Terry Thompson/Represents UTPA, "To see the transformation of our university into this new century and a new beginning it's very exciting for me and for all of us who are here."
To celebrate the day's events, Verizon sponsored an evening reception near the capitol.
Robert Nelsen/UTPA President, "They didn't know how large we are in the Valley, they didn't know our needs and when our students went and talked about that and they saw, you know hearts were touched today, it was very, very powerful."
Richard Lawson/ UTPA Foundation Board Member, "Having this contingent come up here kind of spend a day in the capitol, have the wonderful Mariachi play and kind a give a lot of publicity to the needs in the Valley, it’s just a necessary and wonderful event and Verizon was very happy to be able to sponsor it and help make it happen."
I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.