Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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Plans for new South Texas university take a bold step forward

The Texas House of Representatives today unanimously approved House Bill 1000, which authorizes the creation of a new University of Texas institution in South Texas.

The initiative would include the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Texas Pan-American and would create a new medical school to serve South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.

“We are so thankful for the strong support we received today from the House of Representatives and earlier this month from the Texas Senate,” said Gene Powell, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. “It is gratifying to know that lawmakers and leaders across the political spectrum have come together to give students of South Texas access to a first-class education.”

Powell also expressed appreciation to the entire Rio Grande Valley community, including mayors, elected officials and residents who have all worked to make a South Texas university a reality.

“This has been a team effort from the start, and we are thrilled to be one step closer to bringing this dream to fruition,” Powell said.

The House approved the bill 149-0, and last week, the Senate passed a companion bill, Senate Bill 24 with a vote of 30-1.

“We are very grateful to the members of the Legislature, and especially to the Rio Grande Valley delegation for supporting our vision for South Texas,” Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said. “We are not there yet, but we’re on our way to forever transforming the educational and health care landscape of the Rio Grande Valley.”

At this point, the House and Senate bill sponsors will have to decide whether to push forward HB 1000 or SB 24 because they are not identical bills. A committee hearing will follow, and then either the House or the Senate will need to approve the bill, depending on which bill is moved forward.

It likely will be mid to late April before the bill goes to Gov. Perry for approval.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2012 enrollment of roughly 216,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state’s health care professionals annually. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $13.9 billion (FY 2013) including $3.1 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 87,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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