AUSTIN – University of Texas System academic and health institutions in the upcoming legislative session will seek statutory authorization and state funding for approximately $1.9 billion for new buildings and significant renovation projects following action Thursday by the UT System Board of Regents.
Officials noted that the most critical need and highest priority facing the System ahead of the 84th Legislature convening next January is support for capital construction across the 15 campuses. All told, the System’s academic institutions will ask the Legislature for support for $1.397 billion in projects, much of which will be for construction and renovation of buildings for the STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The system’s health institutions are seeking $591 million for construction, repair and renovation projects.
It’s been nearly a decade since lawmakers last approved funding for classrooms, laboratories and research facilities at System facilities. Since 2006, student enrollment system-wide has grown by more than 27,000, with significant increases in the science, technology and engineering classes that require laboratory space. The Texas Workforce Commission says the state’s higher education institutions need to produce 9,000 new engineers a year over the next decade just to keep up with the state’s high-tech engineering needs.
“New classrooms and laboratories to provide the technologically sophisticated education demanded by today's employers is critical to the continued growth and expansion of the Texas economy, particularly in those industries and fields that will keep the state on the cutting edge of innovation and development of new knowledge,” said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.
The projects at academic institutions include teaching labs, classrooms, lecture halls and office space. Projects also include new construction for the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses of UT Rio Grande Valley, which was authorized during the last legislative session, and, when operational, will include many of the programs and facilities of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American, along with a new School of Medicine, also previously authorized by state lawmakers. The projects at health institutions support teaching, research and administration.
In addition to the requested state funding, each of the projects will be supported from other institutional funds and gifts. These projects are in addition to projects funded through the Permanent University Fund, which provides support for capital projects in the UT and Texas A&M systems.
A complete list of the projects is posted on the UT System website.
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 2013 enrollment of more than 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 $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.