On November 14th, the Chancellor for the University of Texas System, Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, asked the UT System’s Board of Regents, in Austin, for a total of $124 million in new funding in order to create a new Science Building at UT-Pan American for $70 million, and a UT Medical School Academic Building, in Edinburg, for $54 million.
These projects are to help launch the construction and expansion of a regional UT Medical School, which was approved by Texas lawmakers a few months ago. A major campus is slated for development in Edinburg, near the UTPA.
The UT System’s agenda was posted online last November 12th, and can be found at: www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/meetings.
The new medical school and the merger between UT and Pan American, creating a regional higher education system in South Texas, will enable access to money from the Permanent University Fund (PUF), usually targeted for major state-based construction projects by the UT and Texas A&M Systems.
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, is the author of the legislation, which is considered one of the most relevant advances in higher education, health, and economic development in the Valley’s history. This legislation is sponsored by Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and recognized by institutions like Edinburg City and EEDC Board of Directors, and personalities like Rep. Armando “Mando” Martinez, D-Weslaco, Rep. Robert “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, Rep. Óscar Longoria, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission, among others.
Cigarroa made a presentation on the new initiative where he explained the major goals of the new project. Students from South Texas will benefit from a new local university Science Building in Hidalgo County. The creation of the new facility will be possible thanks to the allocation of $70 million coming from the UT South Texas Project, and will be located on the existing UT-Pan American campus.
The construction of around 120,000+ net assignable square feet for science, technology, engineering and math is expected to be partially financed by funds coming from the new allocation. The new Science Building will provide educational opportunities for all students of the new UT System.
The creation of the new building will feature a UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville collaboration, focusing on new educational technology able to deliver instruction to both campuses at the same time. Interactive technology will play a primary role in the endeavor, regardless of physical location.
At first, the revenue will pass through the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, where the UT Regional Academic Health Center, in Edinburg and Harlingen, is administrated, however, once the new UT university is finally created, the UT Medical School will be ruled by the Valley university.
The UT Medical School Academic Building will serve as a teaching facility, emphasizing multi-professional education and simulated patient cases, and promoting student interaction. The project should be finished in time for the first medical school class in the Summer/Fall 2016.