The University of Texas System and Texas Southmost College have finalized property agreements in anticipation of the separation of the campus that TSC and UT Brownsville have shared for the past 20 years.
The property agreement between UT Brownsville and TSC physically defines both campuses and marks the first time in 20 years that each institution will have its own identity. Under the agreement, which follows a letter of intent signed in July 2013, the institutions exchanged, sold or leased both property and buildings.
UT acquired about 51.5 acres from the joint campus; a long-term ground lease of about 18 acres from the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission; and the University Boulevard Classroom Building, the University Boulevard Library and the Student Union Building. TSC students will continue to have full access to the library.
As part of the transaction, UT conveyed to TSC the former National Guard Armory Building as well as the Science, Engineering and Technology Building, which was constructed on land leased from TSC. TSC also received a payment of just more than $29 million.
Additionally, UT is leasing several TSC buildings to serve as interim teaching and related facilities, while TSC has leased space in UT Brownsville’s Life and Health Science Building. The agreement also calls for cooperative use of parking lots and other ancillary agreements.
It is an agreement in which both campuses benefit, said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. The two higher education institutions that now adjoin each other along Ringgold Street near the Texas-Mexico border will always share the history, challenges and higher education successes in the lower Rio Grande Valley.
The UT System is in the process of establishing UT Rio Grande Valley, which will combine the assets and resources of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American and establish South Texas’ first medical school. UTRGV is expected to open in the fall of 2015, and its medical school is expected to open in 2016.
“I am personally grateful to President Julieta Garcia and President Lily Tercero as we navigated through the details of the property agreement,” Cigarroa said. “Furthermore I am personally grateful to President Garcia and UTB’s administrative team for providing my office counsel to successfully complete this important transaction. The University of Texas System is committed to a vibrant and growing presence in the Rio Grande Valley, and the close of these negotiations signal the beginning to a promising future for both TSC and the new UT Rio Grande Valley."
Cigarroa went on to say that Garcia demonstrated exemplary leadership and vision during UT Brownsville's 20-year partnership with TSC, and her commitment to serving the students of the Rio Grande Valley has left an indelible mark on the region.
"President Garcia’s guidance of the UTB/TSC partnership will leave a lasting legacy,” Cigarroa said. “She always puts students first, and I am grateful for her wise counsel over the past two decades and in the years ahead.”
TSC and UT Brownsville will continue to collaborate with each other and will offer joint degrees until both institutions receive independent accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
“This is all about the wisdom of the TSC Board of Trustees to enhance opportunity and improve services in the communities we serve,” said TSC president Lily F. Tercero. “This is a long-awaited historic event, envisioned and pursued by the TSC Board – and led by Board Chairman Francisco G. Rendon – to bring back TSC as a fully comprehensive community college. Because of the Board’s quiet courage and unyielding commitment, Cameron and Willacy Counties are now being served by a much needed, open-door, affordable community college. As importantly, the Board’s vision of having a premier community college, and a first-rate university, both on the same campus, is being fulfilled.
“On a personal note,” she further stated, “it has been a pleasure to work with Chancellor Cigarroa, Executive Vice Chancellor Pedro Reyes, and the UT System staff, in accomplishing the Trustee’s vision. I believe it will always remain a highlight of my professional career, as the president of TSC, to be a part of this remarkable and lasting change, to the benefit of our college, university and all the communities in which we serve.”
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 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. 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.
Originally established in 1926, Texas Southmost College currently offers the first two years toward a bachelor’s degree, along with career and technical education leading to certificates and associate degrees, college preparatory studies to prepare students for college-level work, workforce training, and continuing education. TSC is in the process of terminating a 20-year contractual arrangement with the UT System and became independently operational in the fall of 2013.